1. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    Orangutans may go extinct in as little as 5-10 years.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by gigantes, Jun 28, 2008.

    ...meaning extinct in the wild, which is the true measure of their existence IMO.

    i hadn't realised how precarious their situation was until recently catching an episode of "extraordinary animals" on animal planet. orangutans' original habitat of various locations across asia has dwindled to only the islands of borneo and sumatra. apparantly there are only 50,000 or less animals left, with deforestation proceeding at a rate which will render them extinct in as little as four to 10 years depending on the science org.

    the orangutan diverged from our common ancestor about 14 million years ago and was long thought to lag well behind the chimp in intelligence. recent evidence has painted a different picture, however- orangutans outperformed all other apes in a key deception-oriented intelligence test and one particular subject previewed in the AP show outperformed a group of humans at a symbol memory and matching test.

    anyway, i am gutted to hear the news about the impending extinction of orangutans. while i hate to see any plant or animal go extinct due to the hand of man, this particular case hits home in a very personal way. orangutans, along with us, are the only four members of the great apes (chimps and gorillas are the others). these animals are genetically our cousins and like us, are remarkable creatures. i would think a single visit to the zoo is enough to demonstrate this to an observant person.

    yes, i am frankly ashamed of my species right now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangutan
     
  2. Darthgumby
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    Darthgumby Member

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    The true question is, what is the true value of a creature? Now orangutans are cute and they have a lot of human features we can relate to, but they are no more human than a dog or a fish or a llama. Eventually, not all creatures can live forever. The world is constantly changing, new things grow and old things die. Man uses up resources, and sometimes those consumptions have negative effects on the environment. But imagine how many times you enjoy a cup of coffee, or a sandwich. Think of how much you enjoy using paper and driving in cars. Think of how much you appreciate electricity, shampoo, and furniture. Most modern conveniences come at the expense of something else. Sometimes even people are used up as resources to get us cheaper things. It's not right, it's not honest, but it's convenient, it's cheap, and it is gratifying.

    But this is the world we live in. The world us people in a whole have chosen to create. If not this, then something else would be endangered. It is a sacrifice we make for progress.

    In my opinion, the loss of the orangutans is no more a shock then the loss of some species of bird in the arctic. The intelligence of one species over another, while some are impressive, still does not justify in my book one life of an animal to be valued over another. Just because an orangutan can tell orange from blue, and find the letter A, that does not make it anywhere close to human and can not earn my sympathy over another creature. I believe the loss of this creature in the wild might be a shock, but it is not the worst problem on our agendas.
     
  3. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    darthgumby, thanks for being brave enough to reply in a clear and rational way.

    the ideas you express are part of the foundation of western religion and civilisation- that we are essentially 'better' than animals. that animals are not very much like us. that they must make way for what we consider 'progress' (ie, 'sad, but that's the way it goes').

    there is so much self-interest, hubris, lack of critical reasoning and lack of spiritual and temporal awareness in these ideas that it is difficult to know where to begin as a response. quite likely there is no need to since human civilisation is currently headed towards total collapse, and a lot more quickly than we thought just a couple of decades ago. sadly, this is not some kind of apocalypse-complex that i personally have going on, but what all our major science orgs are telling us.

    what i really wonder about is, if the last remnants of humanity do go under or simply become irrelevant, what will the next dominant, intelligent lifeform on the planet think of us? (we're talking at least a few millions of years, of course)

    will the next race find enough of our remains to learn from our errors or will they fall into the same mistakes when they presumably reach their techno-industrial age? will they treat the planet as badly as we do, fouling their own nests to extinction so to speak, or is their hope for intelligent life? on a side note- is this why we haven't encountered other intelligent life yet, because their civilisations routinely collapse under their own weight?

    it's times like this i wish i could be an eternal sort of disembodied entity, able to follow the history of our planet to see how the book ends. ...altho it would probably just leave me depressed and yearning for a cup of coffee.
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am, quite frankly, proud of my species!

    In all of Earth's history, more species of plants and animals have come into existence, and gone extinct, than we can count. Paleontologists continue to amass records of such former unique forms of life. In my brief tenure on Earth (60 years), only a handful of species have vanished, yet, during this time, mankind reached a point in their own social evolution that we now resist mother nature's ongoing effort at evolution. Our motives are noble, as we use our knowledge and resources to protect diminished species. We have breeding programs and protected environments for such animals. Here is an excerpt from just one such conservation program in Australia:

    "Priority Species Breeding Programs - Includes rare, vulnerable and threatened species

    Tasmanian Devils
    Wombats
    Echidnas
    Red Kangaroos
    Asian Small-clawed Otters
    Queensland Womas
    Death Adders
    Rusty Monitor
    Canopy Goanna
    Yakka Skinks
    Reticulated Pythons
    Burmese Pythons
    Australian Green Pythons
    Sea Snakes
    Black Cockatoos
    Jabirus
    Curlews
    Saltwater Crocodiles"

    http://www.australiazoo.com.au/conservation/conservation/programs_priority.html

    Not all these animals are endangered by human exploitation. And...in the entire history of Earth...only humans have developed the awareness and capability to pursue an effort at species-conservation. It is to the great credit of humanity that we evolved to our current level of compassion and scientific recognition of the importance of all species to the overall ecosystem. Why would anyone be "ashamed" of that?

    .....NaCl
    Proud human!

    People who engage in sensational speculation about the impending demise of mankind, fail to recognize or give credit to the MANY people who support changes for improving our ecosystem. Whether it is fighting global changes that industrialization might influence, or passing laws to restrict "whaling"...humans ARE making a difference and we ARE capable of building a better future. Pessimism only breeds failure. Good things happen when people stop whining and get to work building a better future...I remain a proud human (and good conservationist).
     
  5. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    that's simply not true. we are currently in the midst of one of the greatest extinctions in history. the particular timeframe you mention includes the most accelerated die-off of all (ie the last 50 years):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction_event

    certainly there is much to laud in the actions of some humans. the extreme irony, however, is that without our presence most of these animals wouldn't have needed to be saved in the first place.

    unfortunately, what we accomplish as a race overwhelms what a few of us are doing here and there, 'noble' or not, well-intentioned or not. even as we struggle to save a few species which catch our eye, more become critically endangered or more simply pass our of existence due to our effect.

    i agree to this extent- you can't live your life productively out of shame. life is a rare, precious gift, and it's up to the individual to get the most out of it before they pass into non-existence or a different existence.
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Southern California has such a demand for water that the once mighty Colorado River barely reaches the ocean in Mexico now, its water diverted to SoCal. The SoCal water agencies also suck enormous amounts of water out of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River delta to supplement their Colorado River water. When the pumps are turned "on" they draw so much that the San Joaquin River actually flows backwards! The Delta Smelt is on the endangered species list directly as a result of the pumps. Baby salmon and Steelhead trying to reach the ocean after being born in the upper reaches of the local rivers, are being diverted into the pumps. All this, so the natural desert called Southern California can offer world class golf courses, green lawns and a wide spread swimming pool culture.

    In Northern California, we are presently entering a serious drought. I am being asked to cut back on my water usage. Okay, I filled in one area of lawn with decorative rock...no more water needed. Atta boy! But, what about Southern California? Will they cut back? NO! They are now planning (not talking...actually planning) to build a "peripheral canal all the way up to Washington State to start sucking water from the huge Columbia River!

    Well, our government is FINALLY thinking about the problem in realistic terms. Lawsuits have been filed to protect the Delta Smelt...by the way, if the Delta Smelt had NOT become "endangered", we (environmentalists) would not have enough power to stop the SoCal Water monopoly. But, a judge used the Endangered Species Act to cut the SoCal water delivery by a whooping amount.

    My point is, progress is being made. I have four kids who are all eco-knowledgeable, and long after I am gone, they will continue the fight to build a better world. Frankly, they're tough! They will probably do a better job than me. The future is bright!

    .....NaCl
     
  7. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen Senior Member

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    Makes me think of Chinatown. Anyway, I pretty much agree with NaCl.

    Gigantes, yeah we've messed up, but we're working on it. It could be worse, much, much worse.
     
  8. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    WP doesn't have to have an agenda on this matter because it already more-or-less reflects the body of current scientific reasoning. the holocene extinction is not something that some net-head or a few crackpot scientists came up with. if you don't trust WP on this matter then you are free to look at and present whatever sources you like, altho one would hope that you lean towards peer-reviewed work and consider the body of opinion as opposed to what individuals or small groups are saying.

    also, saying that there is quite a bit of scientific disagreement over the holocene extinction is like saying that there's quite a bit of disagreement over what the ideal shade of red is. sure there is, but most non-colorblind people can at least agree that red is red (ie, something is happening).

    that is exactly as it should be given good science.

    proper scientific method is to always include a margin of error. proper scientific method is also to avoid speaking in absolutes. these kinds of things are precisely why science has driven the technology of our modern world- because the method is to sample, test, take the available evidence, build a peer-reviewed working hypothesis, and leave the door open for future modification and improvement. that, far more than anything else, is why we've come so far so quickly (as well as helping to make overpopulation so possible).

    there is no need for any religious-like movement when you have an overwhelming body of evidence. you don't need to believe al gore, richard simmons, the liberal fringe-element or whatever your bogeyman of choice is.

    cut to the chase and listen to what NASA, the NAS, the AAAS or every other major science org in the world is saying- that man is 99% certain the cause of global habitat loss, global pollution of air, water, land and earth orbit atmosphere, current species depletion, and global catastrophic climate change (often called "global warming" in a loosy-goosy kind of way).

    as the man said- go ahead, i double-dog dare you:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/wonderingmind42

    ...

    in conclusion, i like the sound of what you are personally doing, mister salt. i can think of few goals more noble or worthwhile than environmentalism. whether or not people like you, i, or your kids actually change anything is open to debate, but it's the effort that counts IMO.

    i also appreciate the updates on what's happening locally. given time i'd like to follow up on those and ask you more.
     

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