merits of this discussion
e.c.apling at btinternet.com
Tue Nov 11 16:55:07 MST 2003
I find much to commend in the contributions to this discussion by Melvin P,
dms and Charles Brown, and would like to add my "penn'orth":
I do not know who Jack Weatherford (quoted by Louis Proyect a couple of days
ago) is, but he was way out in suggesting human epidemics only arose with
the introduction of cattle herding and other forms of animal husbandry. On
the contrary micro-biological infections are, and always have been, endemic
to all forms of animal and plant life - they are an aspect of the
all-embracing competition between different forms of life on this planet.
Until not much more than 150 years ago they were always ascribed just to bad
air (mal aria) as such lowly forms of life as the activities of bacteria
were unknown (even though they had been studied by the great microscopist
Leeuwenhoek [1632-1723] - and viruses were recognised only during the 20th
Which leads me to consideration of the reactionary nature of most talk of
"running out of resources", "population explosion" and so much else of the
anti-science (or at least non-scientific) doomsday threats so much talked of
Known resources, of petroleum, or anything else, are a "variable feast",
reflecting merely the economic and technological condition of the time.
Henry VIII was so worried about England running out of oak (for building
warships !!) that he required brewers exporting beer to Flanders to enter
into a bond to import an equivalent number of oak staves to replace the
barrels the exported. But now England probably has more trees than well
before his time.
All this talk of running out of resources is part of western fears of the
inevitable development of countries like China, and indeed the whole of the
"third world", where a rise in the standard of living inevitably requires
more energy use - and also threatens the overwheening power of western
By extension I also suggest that much of the environmentalist agenda, the
concentration on the "threat" of global warming, the attacks on new methods
of plant breeding (GMO foods), and the fad for "organic" farming have
essentially the same reactionary, anti-scientific basis.
Of course, the earth is finite - but in human terms it is to all intents and
purposes infinite, it is so vast. Of course, too, in entropy terms
everything is winding down - and eventually not only the earth, but even the
sun will cease to exist - but it is not worth worrying about such events in
the far distant future....
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