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Environmentalism

Posted by: pudman - Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:53 pm
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Environmentalism 
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Space Station Commander
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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:51 pm
As an addendum, I've found an article that I think may be your "Canadian study": Polar Bears and Seals in the Eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: A Synthesis of Population Trends and Ecological Relationships over Three Decades, Ian Stirling, Arctic VOL. 55, SUPP. 1 (2002) P.59-76.

The author does indeed mention an increase in populations over the past few decades, as a result of us stopping to hunt the polar bear to extinction. The population has recovered since, but it's impossible to tell whether it is back at the old levels, higher, or lower, since there is no data from before hunting was severely limited by various treaties in the 1970's. The data in the other paper I mentioned uses only more recent data, and therefore does not show this effect.

Of course, none of this data is relevant if the polar ice cap continues to disappear, since a situation where there is a suitable habitat isn't representative for a future in which that habitat is gone. That's also mentioned in this paper, and is the main argument for the IUCN to classify the polar bear "Vulnerable".


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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:21 pm
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Quote:
To someone that enjoys rocketry and anything high tech, the militancy of most environmentalists drives me nuts.
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I think this is the part of your argument that I take issue with. The militancy of MOST environmentalists is not clear to me as either true or supported by your opinions. Replace "most" with "some" and I think we could all agree.

I think that many people consider themselves, as you do, to be "non-militant environmentalists." It seems likely that this flavor of environmentalist would be common. Mainstream, even.

I am puzzled why some people are traumatized by the word "environmentalist". If research supports conclusions based on strong methodology and evidence, we should listen. Including whether or not we are negatively impacting the biosphere. And if we find we are not, then we should listen to that too.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:18 pm
Fair point and well taken. I withdraw my comments attributing militancy to "most environmentalist."

It was a rather knee jerk reaction to be environmentally minded myself, but classify all others in the same league as the tree spikers and Luddites that are covered so extensively in the media.

Lourens makes an excellent point about the bias of research based on the motivations of the researcher or those using that research. His point was that those wishing to drill for oil would want to minimize the implied impact of their activities. The converse is also true. Those opposed to the use of oil would wish to maximize them. Somewhere in the middle is reality. Thanks for the citations. The first two I have not read (but will now). The third does, as you note, contribute to my opinion.

Speaking of comparitive environmental impacts of different technologies, does anyone have a good reference that shows the comparative energy content of the different rocket fuels. I'm specifically interested in how liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen stands up against the hydrocarbon options. Aside from the greenhouse gas content in hydrogen ash, LOL, it seems a perfect environmentally sound rocket fuel. Is it just the expense and difficulty with that level of cryogenics that makes it unpalatable for AA? Considering that LOX is cryogenic, is LH significantly harder to handle?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:35 pm
Lourens,

One other thing. Polar Bears do have a history of adaptability to climate change. Reading over the following link, I found a lot of "maybe's" but all based on the premise that sea ice disappears in their habitat. Also, it considers the vulnerability as heavily influenced by hunting. Aside from limited hunting by Alaskan natives (by race not birth) it's illegal to hunt the bears in the U.S. I know that that isn't so in other countries, such as Canada and Russia, but my point is that there is a far closer correlation to a hunting threat than a man-made climate change threat.

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22823

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:19 am
Actually, from what I read the Russians apparently prohibited hunting long before anyone else, in 1956, and there's an international treaty (just about the only one successfully negotiated during the cold war apparently) prohibiting the hunt of polar bears. The treaty isn't implemented in law, but it does seem to be doing something given the rise in abundances since it was created.

As for the habitat shrinkage, it's no secret that the north polar ice cap is melting. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (hadn't heard of that one either) has some nice trend graphs.

As for political interventions, the IUCN looks to me like a pretty independent scientific institution, and most governments have their own environmental protection laws with separate lists. What goes on those lists is the result of a political lobbying process, much more than the Red List. But then the Red List doesn't have any official legal status (the policy makers I've met unofficialy do take it into account though!). This does make some kind of sense: whether a species is threatened with extinction is an independently verifiable fact. Whether it is worth saving is a policy decision. So, two lists.


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Post Re: Environmentalism   Posted on: Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:15 pm
While I can appreciate the necessity of manipulating the environment for our benefit, its something that always needs to be carefully weighed up. Adapting to change worked for nature, and it can still work for us. Consider every option. There's definately cases where the environment can't take it. Biodiversity hotspots for instance. We're at risk of losing great sources of knowledge and wonder before we even knew they were there. Let's not forget that this is the only known place that life exists. The fact that it is literally common as muck shouldn't detract from its intrinsic value.

There's also the human cost of economic activity. I like my modern lifestyle, but I don't want it to come at the cost of someone else's hope of ever living one. I'm sure our species deserves a good few more generations yet.

Here's to the success of getting off this rock and finding a few decent resources out there. That'd take a load off I hope.


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