Posts Tagged ‘Biosphere’

No Beasts, No Cry

May 1, 2016

The Kenyan government burned 100 tons of seized elephant ivory. Meanwhile in France, the environment minister outlawed the trade of any ivory object younger than 1947.

We hear from animal activists everywhere that animals should not be hurt anymore. Then they hop on a plane, and produce lots of biosphere killing CO2. How do we teach those fools that biocide is a greater crime than the suffering of a particular organism?

So let’s push the logic of the whiners to extremes. Say that, on January 1, 2017, the trade or exploitation of all and any animal part is forbidden. How much good would that do?

Africans, For Some Reason, Prefer To Enjoy Life Rather Than To Feed The Beasts. Because Villagers In Niger Were Gulped Down At An Unsustainable Rate, The Army, Well Trained By Hunting Jihadists, Was Called In.

Africans, For Some Reason, Prefer To Enjoy Life Rather Than To Feed The Beasts. Because Villagers In Niger Were Gulped Down At An Unsustainable Rate, The Army, Well Trained By Hunting Jihadists, Was Called In.

What will happen? OK, a few hundreds of millions of people would die relatively soon from malnutrition. But let’s neglect this inconvenient truth. Anti-speciesists tell us that humans are no more worthy than insects.

What would happen to the animals? Well, they would have no more economic utility. They would also present some inconvenience: forget swimming in rivers full of giant lampreys, crocodiles, or seas full of sharks and sea-going crocodiles.

Africans kill wild beasts, because wild beasts are dangerous. I have seen villagers kill venomous snakes. Even In India, land of the beasts, villagers can get tired, when a single leopard kills more than 200 people. Such attacks still happen. Elephants too can be dangerous. Videos are out there, where an elephant will attack and gore, and throw in the air, and then again and again, and finally tramples… a calf.

Still, right now, national parks are reasonably safe. I have come across large ferocious beasts in my life such as various bears (several of them threatening), lions, leopards, boars, etc. They all fled in the end, except for a charging cow which nearly got me, and a wild horse which kicked me (don’t ask).

But ferocious beasts dominate their natural ferocity and inclination to destruction, mostly because large ferocious animals are wise, clever, and completely aware of the power and cruelty of Homo. And were taught that way by their parents and fellow ferocious beasts.

If one removed that psychological factor, things would change. Ferocious beasts would start to see Homo as dinner, or an irritation.

Respecting other animals, and conceding the planet to them would make our lives very uncomfortable. Vegetarians from India may object. However, last I checked there were only a few thousands tigers there, and less than 300 (Indian) lions. 300,000 years ago, lions were the most frequent large animal (because they ate anything, from rabbits to elephants: the European and American lions were significantly larger than present African lions).

It has been suggested that Homo was prevented to penetrate the Americas, for millions of years, by Arctodus Simus, the Short Faced bear, a huge, nightmarish carnivore. Arctodus was extremely carnivorous, extremely fast (70 km/h). Only advanced weapons, 12,000 years ago, were able to master the beast… into extinction.

So are we willing to have ferocious animals around, just to look at them, and fear, and flee, for our lives, which, should we turn pacific, would become short and brutish?

I think not.

To preserve the animal kingdom, it has to manage, and even economically exploited. I am for the reintroduction of (genetically re-engineered) lions, rhinoceroses and mammoths in Europe, grizzlies in California, jaguars in Arizona (there is at least one, eating immigrants, probably). However, the animals will have to be managed. So they have to pay for their own maintenance.

One can persuade Africans to tolerate elephants, if they bring enough cash to tolerate all the problems they do, and will, cause.

On the coast of New England, in some places, thousands of seals bask in the sun. Sharks, great white sharks, will follow. Then what? Will the secret service swim around the president if he dared to stop golfing, and took a dip in the sea?

That animals had formidable rights, long neglected, was a music to the Nazis’ ears. It is actually hilariously terrifying to read the 1933 law on animal protection signed by Adolf Hitler, November 24, 1933.

That animals need more rights is fine. However anti-speciesism is a delicate concept: a mosquito is not as sentient as a parrot. Nor is a sheep as sentient as a wolf. (And certainly a Nazi should not be viewed as being as sentient as those children it is sending to the oven!)

The Nazis (deliberately) pursued their inhuman agenda by hiding it with their loud obsession for animal welfare. Some variants of present day anti-speciesism often embraces, or even go further, than the Nazis did.

I am, of course, a human supremacist. I entertain no illusion on the goodness of animals as somehow superior to that of Homo.

Once I was on narrow mountain path, on the very steep flank of a mile high mountain, in a French national park. There were sheep around. The sort that shepherds release for summer. Big, fluffy, white wholesome wooly live sheep skins. The largest of them all, it seems, a stupendously enormous beast was spying on me with its beady eyes on the path. I stopped, wondering what could such a stupid beast think about. We looked at each other, the super predator, and the . Finally the living comforter appeared to have taken a decision, and I marvelled at the fact it could take one. It aimed straight, and tried to push the super predator off trail. I did not quite fall.

Animals, in the wild, are very smart. Homo can outsmart them, but it takes some concentration. Animals, out there, eat and kill each other, for many reasons. Once I was in a Senegalese national park, on top of a cliff. In the broad river, below, 200 crocodiles were basking in the sun. An hyppotrague (an antelope like bovid, large, powerful and ferocious), to escape an enormous lioness, charged across the Gambia where it was narrow. The lioness followed: damn the crocodiles! Both prey and predator took a calculated risk, because they knew how to take decisions, in seconds, and fiercely. (Yes, I swam in that river.)

The call of the wild is not the call of madness. It is the call of the mind, embracing the universe.

All what the call of harming no animal brings, is the disappearance of species. Many species survived only because they were useful. Even cattle, if not used, tends to disappear: see the case of the formidable Aurochs, and present day Gaur.

If an industry of cutting systematically the horns of rhinoceroses, and selling them, for cash, had been set-up, long ago, no rhinoceros species would have disappeared. And no harm would have been made to the rhinos (they like humans to scratch their backs, if they have determined them to be friendly).

The extermination of species is a higher form of immorality than the persecution of individual animals. To see this, one has to go at the root of morality, which is sustainability: a behavior is moral, if it is sustainable. Biocide, killing the biosphere, is as unsustainable as it can get. Homo has evolved into, and with, and managed, the biosphere, for millions of years. To declare that we will not manage the animals anymore is a dereliction, not just of duty, but of evolution itself.

The day wool and leg of lamb will not be needed at all, sheep will disappear. Philosophers will not be charged by sheep in the wild anymore. Much mental stimulation will be lost.

If we want to honor and love the animals and their species, the wealth of the biosphere our species evolved in, we have to accept all they can offer to us. Yes, including ivory. Grow up.

No beasts, no cry. Yes, there is suffering, so what? The day crying will be lost, much soul will be gone.

Patrice Ayme’

Stellar Flybys: New Way To Life’s Extinction

March 2, 2015

DO STAR NEAR-MISSES MAKE SUPER-JUPITERS FALL?

How fragile is life?

Very.

Many disasters can strike a biosphere.

A famous “equation” the Drake equation, is meant to estimate the probability of life in the galaxy. It overlooked many factors. One of them is interstellar near-misses. It is not a question of stars colliding, but of the disruption of solar systems.

A star zoomed through our Solar System just 70,000 years ago, astronomers have just discovered.

Scholz's System: I Zoomed By, Therefore I Scare

Scholz’s System: I Zoomed By, Therefore I Scare

http://iopscience.iop.org/2041-8205/800/1/L17/article

No other star is known to have approached this close to us.

The international team of astronomers found that the intruder came five times closer than our current nearest neighbour – Proxima Centauri (at .8 light year whereas Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light year away).

The star, a red dwarf known as Scholz’s star, cruised through the outer Oort Cloud, a region not as much stuffed with comets as the inner Oort Cloud. Scholz’s Star is 8% of the mass of the Sun, and it is accompanied by a brown dwarf which is nearly as massive (6% of Sun mass). It goes without saying that going through the comet cloud would have adverse consequences for advanced life on Earth. But worse could happen.

(Brown dwarves just miss the mass necessary mass to have enough heat and pressure to get fusion going in their cores).

Something struck me when extrasolar planets were discovered. How frequent were the super-Jupiters grazing their home stars? Of course, there was a detection bias (with the technology used by the French Corot, and the more recent USA Kepler, the probability to detect a super-Jupiter close by was overwhelming).

However, a question loomed: how do you get a gas giant that was obviously formed far from the home star, so close to the home star? One could imagine a cloud breaking the planet, but that makes little sense (as cloud and planet have similar angular momentum, and the planet would suck the cloud).

What’s left?

Collisions. Or more exactly, near-misses.

Previous work suggests that flybys within 0.25 pc occur infrequently (~0.1 Myr−1).

Sedna, a dwarf planet, whose orbit varies between 70 (seventy) and 1,000 (thousand) Astronomical Units (AU, the distance between Sun and Earth). Maybe a remnant from a near collision (torn from a Red Dwarf clutches).

In any case, Scholz’s star came within 52,000 AUs of the Sun. And it passed very fast (the slower the pass, the greater the disruption).

If it had passed within 100 AUs, the disruption would have been considerable (Neptune is at 30 AUs; at 90 AUs, the pull from a passing star, in the worst case would 1/10 of that of the Sun, and would make the orbit of Neptune ellipse, significantly eccentric)

So what happens if a gas giant gets a severely eccentric orbit? Well, it can cut through the others’ orbits, and the whole system becomes unstable. A few large collisions and near misses later, one could get some gas giants to graze their suns, as observed.

As usual, I just suggest the idea. Others can figure out the details, program their computers, and check… ;-).

Let’s make a little computation. Suppose that the probability of a star coming within 52,000 AUs was once every 100,000 years (a probability tellingly estimated BEFORE it came to be known Scholtz’s star zoomed by).

Let’s consider the disruption radius to be 100 AUs. The probable number of near-misses disrupting the inner system during the past extent of the Solar System would then be:

1/25,000)x(10^4)x5 = 2.5.

That’s quite a bit… And, now that we know about Scholz’s Star’s recent flyby, no doubt that the probability of near misses will skyrocket. All the more as the Sun is presently in the pretty empty zone, the Local Bubble, 300 light years across.

I have explained in the pat that life depended not just upon having a planet in the Habitable Zone (the Water Zone), but also in the Radioactive Belt.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/life-giving-nuclear-earth-reactor/

Many are the causes of disasters on the way to advanced life, as I have enumerated in:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/40-billion-earths-yes-no/

Being lucky with stellar flybys is another factor to consider: a nudge to the outer gas giants, and it’s curtains for advanced life. Bacteria don’t count. I am suggesting that, in star systems long established, star near-misses is a much serious problem than rogue asteroids or comets.

Patrice Ayme’