's Forum Archives - Non-Cycling Discussions

Archive Home >> Non-Cycling Discussions(1 2 3 4 )

Earth From Above-a human and ecological testimony(18 posts)

Earth From Above-a human and ecological testimonyAllisonHayes
Jul 12, 2002 6:52 AM
Check this out, the photographs are magnificent...

A photographic portrait of our planet by Yann Arthus-Bertrand who spent 3000 hours of flying-time by helicopter visiting 100 different countries to provide a record of the world's environment.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand developed a passion for aerial photography while doing a photo-report on a pride of lions in Kenya. Aerial photography adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of our planet's evolutionary pattern. These photographs are taken from a height of 30 to 3,000 meters and provide an incredible provide a greater sense of awareness not achievable through other photography.

i "In views ranging from spectaculor panoramas of vast geographical formations to intimate glimpses of small-scale features of the landscape, these photographs give a remarkable view of cities, desert oases, forest, grasslands, tundra, mountains, islands, coastlines, rivers and people in an extraordinary composition of light and form."

i "What kind of Earth will future generations inherit? How can we preserve the heritage of natural abundance that we share with past generations? The impact of population growth and technologtical progress on the natural equilibrium of the planet has been dramatic, particularly over the past fifty years, and the world's landscapes have been transformed as a result."

This exhibit is currently showing in Chicago

(IMG src="")

(IMG src="")

(IMG src="")

(IMG src="")

(IMG src="")
Jul 12, 2002 6:56 AM

You'll <i>love</i> this site!Tig
Jul 13, 2002 2:35 PM
Jul 13, 2002 6:06 PM

What an incredible jewel. This is a very special gift. Takes my breath away. I love it! Wow!!!

This will become my favorite photo ever.

Thank you so much for sharing,

The eye of the hurricane.AllisonHayes
Jul 14, 2002 7:21 AM
Did you notice the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico? Pretty amazing!

Do you know when this photo was taken?
The eye of the hurricane.Tig
Jul 14, 2002 6:30 PM
August 25, 1992 by NOAA GOES-7 Hurricane Andrew. There are sis pages of hurricane photos starting here:

Here's the description associated with the photo below:
"The aftereffects of Tropical Storm Gabrielle are visible in this SeaWiFS image captured on September 17, 2001 off the coast of the southeastern United States. Near the coast the ocean is browner than normal because increased rainfall has washed a higher than usual sediment load into the sea. The brown water is most evident along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. Farther offshore, wind-induced wave action has resuspended sediments from the underlying continental shelf turning the water a milky green color all the way out to the shelf break.

Tropical Storm Gabrielle became a Hurricane briefly after she left the area on her northeastward trek."
Jul 12, 2002 7:17 AM
Nice photos.

To address the subject of the author you reference, I'd ask, "Are changes to the Earth caused by humans any better or worse than changes caused by nature?"

For example, an asteroid wipes out almost every living thing on Earth. Is that evil?

Natural forest fires destroy thousands of acres of trees. Nonetheless, they return, sometimes stronger than before. In fact, for some species the cycle is necessary to propagate. Humans might be doing the wrong thing by *preventing* these fires.

Death Valley must be the most godforsaken place on Earth. It is barren, ugly, smelly, and hot. Yet, we turn it into a national park and preserve it. People flock there to look at it. Still, if humans had *caused* a place like that to exist, they'd be villified as rapists of the Earth. I don't get it.

The Earth is apparently extremely resilient. Maybe we over estimate ourselves to think that we can permanently harm it, or that our changes are any more or less "right" than natures.

I don't to condone toxic waste dumps. We shouldn't be killing ourselves. That's not what I'm talking about, though. I'm talking about cutting trees, converting raw land to farm land or urban use, building dams and lakes, etc. It seems some people view any changes to be harmful (not necessarily anyone here). I don't understand that.

another metaphysical question?AllisonHayes
Jul 12, 2002 7:30 AM
He goes on to say that in the last 100 years, modern society has caused more adverse changes to the earth than all of mankind combined. In addition, we are adding 1 million people to the earth each week. (Including you and spinchick--heeheehee.)

He is also saying that 4/5 of the people on the planet are in underdeveloped regions and that the remaining 1/5 (you and me) consume 80% of the the resources and contribute 90% of the waste.

To your point, how about the forest fires we are experiencing. These fires are the result of a hundred of Forest Service (mis)management policies wanting zero fires, only to result in the creation of a mammouth tinderbox. What is natural; what is unnatural?

I am not condemning nor condoning anything here. But, I am concerned that our days of wine and roses may be near an end and that our progeny may not have as nice a planet as we have today.
Jul 12, 2002 7:42 AM
As to the 100 years issue, so what? When there are more people, there are going to be more changes. The author seems to assume that this is inherently bad. (BTW, having one child, or even two, means that you are merely replacing yourselves.)

The 4/5's argument is equally vacuous. Would they feel better if everyone consumed equal to us? I don't understand the, again, inherent assumption that this is bad. I would note, however, that the remaining 4/5's of the people on Earth don't appear to object when we offer then food, medicines, and technologies to help them avoid mass starvation and plagues. They are demanding help with HIV right now, aren't they? If not for our "consuming" ways, we'd not be in a position to help, now would we? Which way do we want it?

I think it might be wrong to assume that "different" is automatically "worse", with respect to changes to the Earth.

replacing yourself, hmmmmmtber
Jul 12, 2002 8:24 AM
Remember the old shampoo commercial where 'if you tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends, etc'? Well say John and Jane have 2 kids when they are 20yo and each of those kids have 2 kids when they are 20yo, etc. To account for the fact that it takes 2 people to have a kid, let's just say that each 2 kids are a boy and a girl and they have kids with each other (hey, just to make the math easier!). If John and Jane live to be 81, they leave behind 8 human beings - a bit more than just replacing themselves!
Faulty reasoning...Wayne
Jul 12, 2002 8:48 AM
there are still only two humans per generation, and at some point John and Jane will die, as will their kids, etc. Let's say to keep it simple every 20 years the eldest generation dies. Consequently there is zero population growth!
oops, yeah, I see it nowmtber
Jul 12, 2002 9:04 AM
I didn't allow for the initial buildup of people. After 8 people are reached, the 'population' would remain at 8. But still, looking around at all the sprawl of late in this country, it is hard to say that we don't have an overpopulation problem, even, here.
I think your logic works because inbreeding is assumed.AllisonHayes
Jul 12, 2002 9:14 AM
Perfect redneck recipe. Those things never die off. As was stated in Jurassic Park, "Life always finds a way." Although I do believe that rednecks grow at an exponential rate though.

Don't know if that was your intention but you nailed it--that's where we are headed, a planet of inbred rednecks. l LOL:)
When I went to Belgium/Holland this winter...Wayne
Jul 12, 2002 10:25 AM
I was impressed how their different use of land made for a much better landscape. It's not that we have too many people, it's that we use the land in a poor way. It's Suburbia that's ruining it, everyone has to have their little quarter of an acre that is in a little mushroom cul-de-sac with a large/cheaply contructed house about 10 miles from where stores and work is located. So it's not more people, it's a decrease in density of those people in urban areas and the associated reliance on the automobile to get anywhere.
In Europe, outside of the cities, people seemed to live in definable villages surrounded by fields. Around where I live surburbia has pretty much destroyed any concept of "town" in three of the four directions. It just blends from business areas to housing divisions seemingly randomly!
Its the same where I livemtber
Jul 12, 2002 10:54 AM
As you drive down the HW, you see the same pattern of housing developments like you describe, interspersed with the requisite assortment of Applebee's, Circuit City, Bennigan's, Olive Garden, Walmart, Costco, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc, ad nauseum. It was not too long ago that traveling to another part of the country allowed the traveller to experience new and different food and shopping experiences.

What you say sounds good, although most Americans think that planned, more concentrated cities/towns are a good thing, they, themselves would prefer to live 'out in the country', but not too far from work, hence we end up with suburbs. Do YOU really want to live in the city? Me neither.

Another way to go is to do what Boulder, CO did - buy up all the open space surrounding the city to create a 'green belt'. Hence, in this time of sprawl, Boulder is a nice town of ~100,000 nestled up against the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mtns, and NOT surrounded by the sprawl described above. Sounds nice, but the avg home price in Boulder is in the range of 1/2 million dollars and you can't even get a condo for <$150,000. Add to that the fact that the people who WORK in Boulder can't afford to LIVE in Boulder and you get a nasty rush hour traffic situation. Now people cry that the housing situation in Boulder is unfair and elitist, etc (I personally think that the people who bought homes in Bldr in the 70s and 80s have every right to take the necessary steps to make life in their town more enjoyable and its tough luck for those (including me) who missed the boat!)

No easy solutions.
In college alot of my friends were...Wayne
Jul 12, 2002 7:50 AM
environmentalists (and still are, although most have mellowed with the wisdom of age). I had numerous debates with them that the only sound arguement (and the best) for environmentalism are selfish human ones. We want a nice, clean, beautiful planet to inhabit and pass on to our children. Most of them though seemed to believe that "natural" and clean was somehow preferred by the EARTH. As if the earth was an entity that cared! It rolled on for the first billion-plus years with nothing but a single-celled blue-green algae inhabiting it, if we nuked ourselves into oblivion tomorrow and killed off every large-bodied plant and animal, life would go on. In a couple hundred-thousand years there would be new forms of life that we can't even envision!
Environmental changes due to human occupation aren't evil unless they significantly decrease the quality of life of a large part of humanity! Extinction isn't evil, it just is! What could be construed as evil is the shrinking of natural habitats that lead to extinctions, because this represents often a poor management of natural resources and it may come back to bite us in the ass in the long run!
History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of128
Jul 12, 2002 9:50 AM
men. Oh no, there goes Tokyo, go go Godzilla
on a related note:weiwentg
Jul 12, 2002 11:30 PM

report to be released tomorrow by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) predicts the world will be depleted of resources by 2050. Studying figures and trends from 1970 to the present, the study finds that the world's resources are being depleted at an alarming rate, and that already one-third of the world's wildlife has died.

The study examined the effects of the deterioration on 350 species of animal, including humans. For example, the population of cod in the North Atlantic in 1970 was an estimated 264,000 tons; in 1995 that number had shrunk to 60,000. African elephant populations dwindled from 1.2 million in 1980 to half a million today, and black rhinos went from 65,000 to 3,100. The corn bunting, a British songbird, has seen a 92% fall in population since 1970, and the rainforests have shrunk 12% in 30 years. It is difficult to ascertain how many animals have already been lost because an animal must not be seen for 50 years to declare it officially extinct.

The report also describes the basic ability of an ecosystem to sustain life by building an index. Using 1970s statistics as the baseline for the world and assigning a livability value of 100, researchers today give a value of 65. Humans' consumption rate has doubled in 30 years, and seems to grow at a steady pace of 1.5% a year.

All eyes now will be on next month's Earth Summit in Johannesburg. Rumors abound that no agreements will be reached, and that U.S. president George W. Bush will not attend. Last month's preparatory conference for the summit was filled with disputes between richer and poorer, developed and undeveloped countries. The U.S., represented by 300 delegates at the conference, has been accused of blocking important initiatives on energy use, biodiversity, and corporate responsibility. Matthew Spencer, a spokesman for Greenpeace, summarizes: "There will have to be concessions from the richer nations to the poorer ones or there will be fireworks."

The WWF study indexed nations with a consumption footprint, representing how much grain, fish, wood, and fresh water it consumes, along with its emissions of carbon dioxide from industry and cars, and describes how much land is required per individual to sustain the country. The U.S. footprint was 12.2 hectares per person; the U.K. came in at 6.29 ha, while Europe as a whole requires 6.28 ha. The lowest score went to Burundi, requiring a mere half hectare per person.

These findings have led the WWF to predict that by 2050 the world's resources will be tapped, and mankind will have to colonize other planets to survive. Furthermore, by that time humans will most likely require two planets, at the current consumption rate.

Martin Jenkins, senior adviser for the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, a group that worked on the report, said, "It seems things are getting worse faster than possibly ever before. Never has one single species had such an overwhelming influence. We are entering uncharted territory."

Before you guys give me a hard time, I want you to know I went straight to the cupboard for a can of salt before I read this article. I don't think I'm so naïve that things like this easily influence me; however, disbelieve all you want, but there is some truth to this.

The consumption rate in the U.S. is disgusting. There's really just no excuse for it. Believe me, I'm not going to point fingers because I am just as guilty as the next, but we are despicable. I live in a "tree-hugger" community, though I grew up in a very "ah, go ahead, toss it out the window" city for most of my life. I am annoyed by people who preach recycling, and by a lot of that whole movement, but the fact is we must get some sort of grip on our consumption. Are we going to have to move to Mars by 2050? I doubt it. But it can't be that much longer before we run out of the resources we use right now.