Lungfish petition

| 58 Comments

There is now an online petition to save the Australian Lungfish (you can read more about the threatened lungfish here, here, and here). Take a moment and put your name on it!

Also, it's not just the lungfish—as Monika Dieker reminded me, there's also the Mary River Turtle at risk.

58 Comments

Online petitions are worth the paper they aren’t printed on. They’re just too easy to fake tons of signatures to.

If you want to be noticed, send a letter. A ten-page, handwritten letter. Nobody’s going to fake that!

Maybe it is just me, but I find it ironic those who frequent a site devoted to evolution who, presumably, appreciate what the theory implies, would support measures to conserve and/or protect a given specie. Here’s my thinking: evolution indicates that should a species get wiped out do to man’s activities, the niche created will present opportunity for another specie or many species.

Don’t get me wrong - I realize the impact of man’s activities exceeds that of other natural disasters, however, our existence is (in truth) a natural activity and as such, our impact is governed by the same processes and laws as all other impacts to life on this planet. I don’t wish to sound heartless or uncaring (believe me when I say that contrary to my statement here, I tend to go way out of my way to “save” even the smallest organisms I find in distress), but it does seem to me that such activities imply either a misunderstanding of evolution or a complete lack (dare I say the word?) faith that evolution will ultimately accommodate our impact.

Maybe it’s just me…

My bad - “species” not specie. Sorry.

My bad - “species” not specie. Sorry.

“Maybe it is just me, but I find it ironic those who frequent a site devoted to evolution who, presumably, appreciate what the theory implies, would support measures to conserve and/or protect a given specie.”

Don’t worry, I’m sure there’s PLENTY of creationists who would agree with you.

There is a certain irony there, which has amused me from time to time.

However, what it boils down to is, what kind of world do we want to live in? Our knowledge of science tells us what world will result from our current practices: the world will be reduced to a number of low-diversity habitats.

Look at modern cities. They are environments with their own ecosystems, food webs, and, yes, evolution. Some species will thrive in the world we create, just like cockroaches, gracles and rock doves (aka. pigeons) do now.

But low diversity environments aren’t really stable and aren’t very aesthetically pleasant from the perspective of someone looking for nature. A world covered by same doesn’t appeal to me. I want to keep our high-diversity environments.

measures to conserve and/or protect a given specie[s]

These are human activities that are just as “natural” as the ones that endanger species, so your argument is quite hollow.

misunderstanding of evolution or a complete lack (dare I say the word?) faith that evolution will ultimately accommodate our impact

The misunderstanding is yours; evolution is a mechanical process that is neutral in regard to human preferences. Why bother preventing human disease, starvation, war, genocide, etc., if natural processes will continue on, populations will recover, etc.? Because one has nothing to do with the other. People want to preserve the lungfish because they want lungfish around; and they want to prevent loss of biodiversity generally because they recognize the value of biodiversity to human interests. So what if the coral is destroyed, or the seas are overfished, reducing the supply for consumption and resulting in farm-raised fish with higher concentrations of toxins? Evolution has no concern with human interests, and will proceed even if every single human interest is thwarted. The fact of evolution is no reason at all not to preserve the lungfish. The reasons for preserving the lungfish are given in the petition: “As a ‘living fossil’ it provides the only opportunity to study the development and physiology of the aquatic predecessors of all land vertebrates, including ourselves”. Evolution doesn’t care what we study, and no amount of “accomodation” will undo the described loss.

called get this…lungfish

Here’s my thinking: evolution indicates that should a species get wiped out do to man’s activities, the niche created will present opportunity for another specie or many species.

Of course, the death of an individual human also creates opportunity for another human individual.

That, of course, doesn’t mean we should run around killing people to make more opportunities.

These other Australian animals are no longer endangered thanks to other petitions, on-line and paper based:

1) The Swan River Anus Pig 2) The Southwest Australian Kidney Kangaroo (always given birth to in pairs) 3) The Desert Liver Plant (unfortunately cannot regrow after pruning), and 4) The Tasmanian Pancreas Devil (native to Queensland)

These other Australian lifeforms needs YOUR support to survive for at least the next four years and requires paper-based petitioning:

1) Members of the Australian Labour Party

Extinct Australian lifeforms no longer requiring petition assistance:

1) The Australian Democratic Party, and

We need petitions to make these lifeforms extinct, Australian or otherwise:

1) One Nation Party 2) Family First Party 3) Kent Hovind 4) Dembski and co. 5) Reality television.

Thank you all for your attention.

ARRGH! “DUE to”, not “do to”!

“AAARGH!”, not “ARRGH!”

Thanks for the comments/criticisms, in particular to Michael Suttkas who most eloquettely defined the difference between the a given natural law/process and what we choose to do within that context. Thanks Michael. I’d note Popper’s ghost, however that criticism would have been more effective had you simply put - The fact of evolution is no reason at all to either preserve or ignore the lungfish; the reasons for preserving the lungfish are given in the petition - such would have been more than sufficient to make me think about my question. Regardless, I appreciate the response and all other statements.

I’d note Popper’s ghost, however that criticism would have been more effective had you simply put - The fact of evolution is no reason at all to either preserve or ignore the lungfish; the reasons for preserving the lungfish are given in the petition - such would have been more than sufficient to make me think about my question.

So a truncated paraphrase of what I wrote, which you extracted from what I wrote, indicating that you fully understood what I wrote, would have been “more effective” than what I actually wrote? That’s not logical. What you apparently really mean is that you found offense in what I wrote and might not have found offense in your paraphrase – well boo hoo.

P.S. I wrote about your “misunderstanding” to throw your words back in your face:

either a misunderstanding of evolution or a complete lack (dare I say the word?) faith that evolution will ultimately accommodate our impact

Perhaps you would have been more effective by not insulting everyone who wants to preserve the lungfish and other species and showing off your own shoddy and shallow thinking. Or perhaps insulting people was your effective strategy for eliciting strong responses.

[does anyone know why PT’s server sucks so badly and when it will stop sucking?]

Actually, the rewrite of the one relevant statement in your comment serves to demonstrate two points:

1) That conservation of words more effectively conveys a thought in such a medium,

2) That your ability with written English leaves something to be desired.

Oddly enough, none of the other posters who responded indicated that my question was insulting. The fact that you chose to be insulted by my piece is, I think, indicative of your particular take on Internet discussions - e.g., that such are forums for arguments and insults rather than for the exchange of thoughts and ideas, and that you want to argue for the sake of it. That you use a pseudonym in such a forum further indicates that you tend towards such an adolescent expression mode.

The fact that you overlooked my entire comment about saving numerous organisms makes your second response rather moot. But no matter; a single anonymous ruffled poster of dubious authority stating I’m a shallow and shoddy thinker in the midst of board of many others, most of whom appear to be gifted intellectuals, does not bother me. In fact, I would have been surprised to the contrary.

Robin Lee-Thorp said:

“Oddly enough, none of the other posters who responded indicated that my question was insulting.”

Well, I wouldn’t say I was insulted but I did think your first post was a bit daft. Hence my reaction.

Maybe it’s just me…

I certainly won’t deny being daft at times, or that the thinking behind my post didn’t come from left field. Thoughts from outside the mainline acceptance of “what we should be doing” sometimes lead to the deepest and most honest inspection of cognative theories though, and that was what I’d hoped to gain here. It seems Mr. Suttkas was on the same page at least (maybe it isn’t just me, eh?), but I do appreciate that there are likely a lot of Creationists who’d like the world to think that what I proposed is what ET implicitly points to. I figured such would be moot on an Evolutionary proponent site. My bad.

Yeah, Robin, it was just you. :-)

Maybe I should elucidate what I find ironic.

I find people all too often make the mistake of assuming what nature is is good. That is, we should preserve forests *because* they are natural. We should save the lesser red-breasted European crested barn warbler (differing from the greater red-breasted European crested barn warbler by two yellow feathers and a half inch of average length) because it’s natural.

But extinction is natural. The human/nature dichotomy is a false one. We are an animal species. We are doing what every species in history has done: Consuming resources without concern for its effects on other species. You think atmospheric pollution is something new? A few billion years ago, cyanobacteria evolved and released tons of the deadliest poison in history, a gas called oxygen, into the atmosphere! Environmental devestation on a global scale resulted. A few freaky species managed to adapt to the stuff. They were sorta successful in the long term, but they weren’t anymore careful.

History is a record of extinction; species wipe each other out with casual aplomb. What we’re doing is as natural as what happened with rodents first invaded Australia (Hint: It was millions of years before humans arrived and it caused massive extinctions).

Eventually, nature recovers. That’s what she does. Won’t do us any good, of course, but there you go.

Any species that we wipe out has lost the game. Extinction is the fate of all species sooner or later. Those we’re driving under went sooner than some, later than most!

Now, one could be a bitter cynic and say, “Oh well, so sorry, lesser red-breasted European crested barn warbler, you didn’t make it. You weren’t worthy. We don’t really need you. We’ve still go the greater red-breasted European crested barn warbler, and, HEY! It looks like it might last until at least 2020. We don’t really need it either, of course.” This would be a fairly “natural” philosophy, and yet, the very people who are most concerned with nature, most likely to slap the label of “Natural” on their ideas, would be the first to condemn it.

That’s the irony.

I choose to oppose such an idea not because I’m concerned with what’s natural but because I just plain like the species that we have. We’re not going to drive ourselves to extinction if we pave over the rainforests no matter what the radical environmentalists tell you. I’m not really worried that we’ll happen to lose a cancer cure.

I just like rainforests. I even like the lesser red-breasted European crested barn warbler, and I just made him up.

As I said, we are the only species on the planet capable of deciding what kind of planet we want to live on and making it so. I don’t want to live on a world where the closest thing we get to nature is McDonald’s.

The problem is, people who don’t like evolution confuse the term ‘evolutionary proponent’. They dislike the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ because they think it’s immoral. We ‘proponents’ of evolution are not proponents because we LIKE evolution, we simply observe it. We don’t see the zebra’s being munched on by hyenas and go “YAY, HYENAS!”. Whether it occurs naturally or is guided by the dude upstairs makes no difference - it happens anyway. And we no-more draw any kind of moral standing from it than when we observe boiling water.

And yes, it is possible for believers and non-believers alike to see the harsh side of nature (expecially if the cause is anthropogenic) to make a moral choice and try to change things because, well, they just like their rainforests and lesser red-breasted European crested barn warblers just they way they are. :-)

Michael Suttkus, II

we are the only species on the planet capable of deciding what kind of planet we want to live on and making it so

Can I put in an early request for the lemonade springs and the rocks from whence the alcohol trickles*?

(* From the hobo-jungle tune “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” which some of you may recall from O Brother. I’ll forego the cigarette trees, though…)

I second that. Me likes lemonade and vodka (don’t laugh) when not on the beer.

For me, the argument for preserving species that otherwise might go extinct due to human activities boils down to humility. Who are we to decide what species stays or goes? Especially since the extinctions usually happen as a result of ignorance (the dodo) or greed (passenger pigeon) or both. (Can’t say that I mourn Smallpox, though)

What always amazes me, though, is the attitude of many of the religious conservatives who constantly fight against environmental or conservation initiatives. Doesn’t it make sense to try to preserve God’s creation? How dare we bring ruin to it.

I have heard, in recent months, more arguments by Christians that we should do just that, so perhaps there’s hope there.

By the way, I’m still holding out for a world with bear volcanos and flaming tigers.

That conservation of words more effectively conveys a thought in such a medium

If simple statement would have been sufficient, then you wouldn’t have displayed such incredible stupidity in the first place. Since it was impossible to know what would be effective with someone so dense and thick-headed, I attempted to several different points on the hope that one might get through to you.

That your ability with written English leaves something to be desired.

I have found that those who presume to lecture others on the web on their style are among the most pathetic creatures. I would be quite satisfied to be much more intelligent and informed than you, but I think that my writing abilities are just fine too.

I typed quickly and left out a couple of words. That, of course, does not make Ms. Lee-Thorp any less of a silly goose.

That you use a pseudonym in such a forum further indicates that you tend towards such an adolescent expression mode.

In this thread alone, we have “Darth Robo”, “Paul”, “Anonymous_Coward”, “fnxtr”, “GvlGeologist”, and “Popper’s Ghost”. You singled out only the last – why? Because you’re a deeply dishonest person. You are also ignorant of the many reasons why people might choose to use a pseudonym, and your inferential abilities generally, whether it is from petititions to preserve lungfish or the use of pseudonyms, are very poor.

I certainly won’t deny being daft at times, or that the thinking behind my post didn’t come from left field. Thoughts from outside the mainline acceptance of “what we should be doing” sometimes lead to the deepest and most honest inspection of cognative theories though, and that was what I’d hoped to gain here.

Yeah, right, your daftnness was part of a paradigm-busting strategy. Kinda like ID, I suppose, or any other crackpot notion.

I do appreciate that there are likely a lot of Creationists who’d like the world to think that what I proposed is what ET implicitly points to. I figured such would be moot on an Evolutionary proponent site. My bad.

Yes, this silly strawman is your bad. It has nothing to do with Creationists, and everything to do with your own foolishness, and the absurdity of your accusing people here of misunderstanding evolution or failing to appreciate that “evolution will ultimately accommodate our impact” – whatever that moronic phrase is supposed to refer to; evolution is an algorithm and our impact is just another set of contingencies, no different from any other in respect to evolution.

GvlGeologist Wrote:

Who are we to decide what species stays or goes?

I’m not aware that we do. After all, the species we’d most like to drive to extinction, like the black rat and the various cockroaches, remain despite concerted effort on our part to be rid of them. :-)

GvlGeologist Wrote:

(Can’t say that I mourn Smallpox, though)

Speciesist!

GvlGeologist Wrote:

What always amazes me, though, is the attitude of many of the religious conservatives who constantly fight against environmental or conservation initiatives. Doesn’t it make sense to try to preserve God’s creation? How dare we bring ruin to it.

Genesis 1:27-31 effectively gives man “dominion” over the Earth, with God telling us that everything around was for us to consume. We rule. Yay. Concern for the environment, according to these types, puts nature in dominion over man, defying God’s will on the matter. It doesn’t help that environmentalism ended up on the liberal list in the seemingly random allotment of issues to sides in the US political system.

Besides, Jesus is going to return any day now, right? What’s the point of preserving the environment for a non-existent future? It’s all going to be paved over for New Paradise soon anyway, lambs laying down with lions and all that. Lions will go back to using their powerful teeth and claws to chase down wild bananas, just like God intended from the start.

Creationism: Once you get down to the details, the stupidest idea ever, with the possible exception of breatharianism.

GvlGeologist Wrote:

I have heard, in recent months, more arguments by Christians that we should do just that, so perhaps there’s hope there.

They’ve always been there, but the media, in their need to maintain the “two sides” model of reality finds it easier to keep them separate, with the “Christians” in the Republican anti-environmental camp clearly delineated from the Democratic environmentalists.

M. Suttkus wrote:

Yeah, Robin, it was just you. :-)

:-P

M. Suttkus wrote:

The human/nature dichotomy is a false one. We are an animal species. We are doing what every species in history has done: Consuming resources without concern for its effects on other species. You think atmospheric pollution is something new? A few billion years ago, cyanobacteria evolved and released tons of the deadliest poison in history, a gas called oxygen, into the atmosphere! Environmental devestation on a global scale resulted. A few freaky species managed to adapt to the stuff. They were sorta successful in the long term, but they weren’t anymore careful.

Eventually, nature recovers. That’s what she does. Won’t do us any good, of course, but there you go.

Your elucidation is quite good (lesser and greater red-breasted barn warblers aside) and while I think you might be right in many people’s association of nature = good, I’ve found that there are a number of folk out there who make the opposite association - that nature = bad and it must be tamed, controlled or destroyed. Personally I’m less fond of it than nature = good, but such is irrelevant since they are both variations on the false human/nature dichotomy.

That nature eventually recovers is the point I was driving at in my observation of irony in conservation activities. It’s worth looking at in order to define the value we find in organisms in contrast to how nature defines value. As you said:

M. Suttkus wrote:

we are the only species on the planet capable of deciding what kind of planet we want to live on and making it so.

I think that examining the implied irony provides a useful constrast between understanding that our activities effect the environment and understanding that we can make choices concerning that impact.

I like this other irony you pointed out:

M. Suttkus wrote:

Now, one could be a bitter cynic and say, “Oh well, so sorry, lesser red-breasted European crested barn warbler, you didn’t make it. You weren’t worthy. We don’t really need you. We’ve still go the greater red-breasted European crested barn warbler, and, HEY! It looks like it might last until at least 2020. We don’t really need it either, of course.” This would be a fairly “natural” philosophy, and yet, the very people who are most concerned with nature, most likely to slap the label of “Natural” on their ideas, would be the first to condemn it.

That’s the irony.

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I can see where that thinking could come from.

I’m with you Michael - I choose to act in the preservation of some things (forests habits and coastal sea life are my thing) because I like those things. I can’t think of a better reason to nurture, protect, and preserve something besides liking it. That and I’m not much for McDonalds.

Robin Lee-Thorp Wrote:

Your elucidation is quite good (lesser and greater red-breasted barn warblers aside) and while I think you might be right in many people’s association of nature = good, I’ve found that there are a number of folk out there who make the opposite association - that nature = bad and it must be tamed, controlled or destroyed. Personally I’m less fond of it than nature = good, but such is irrelevant since they are both variations on the false human/nature dichotomy.

I favor nature=nature myself. There are a large number of people who associate “natural” with chaotic, untamed, and dangerous, but I think it’s clear that the opposite view has cultural dominance, at least to the public. Just look at how often you hear products being advertised as “all natural” as if that was somehow a meaningful selling point.

Robin Lee-Thorp Wrote:

That nature eventually recovers is the point I was driving at in my observation of irony in conservation activities.

Keep in mind that this recovery could take thousands of years (longer, depending on the type of damage). From my selfish perspective, that’s just not fast enough!

That nature eventually recovers is the point I was driving at in my observation of irony in conservation activities.

Nature does not “eventually recover” since nature was never ill in the first place; your “observation” is actually an anthro-centered fallacy. Where nature ends up eventually is dependent on numerous contingent events; nature may never get back to a state like the original one, or a state that we humans like – certainly not in our lifetimes. This sort of thinking is just plain wrong, the point you were driving at is wrong, and the irony is nonexistent. Damming the lungfish’s habitat will lead to the end of lungfish, and lungfish will never recover. Nor is it likely that a species like the lungfish will ever arise again, since the conditions in which it arose won’t be repeated – and if they are repeated, it’s not likely to happen for millions of years. That the planet will continue its impervious existence and that the process of evolution will continue is tautologous, despite your conceptual errors. Evolution is not generally a cyclical process, and this notion of “recovery” is an erroneous generalization based on such instances as habitats “recovering” – but they only “recover” because the same species are extant and the same conditions prevail, and so those species repopulate an area that was once inhospitable but no longer is.

By “recover”, I meant “restore the diversity the environment could support.”

By “recover”, I meant “restore the diversity the environment could support.”

The context is damming rivers, destroying the lungfish’s habitat. The diversity the environment can support will quickly “recover”, as plants take root in the newly uncovered ground. This doesn’t seem to have much to do with R L-T’s “should a species get wiped out do to man’s activities, the niche created will present opportunity for another specie or many species”, which seems to suggest that the absence of the lungfish (rather than the rivers it lives in) will provide opportunities for new species, or old species developing new traits – new inferred from the claim that we all misunderstand and lack “faith” in evolution.

M. Suttkus wrote:

I favor nature=nature myself. There are a large number of people who associate “natural” with chaotic, untamed, and dangerous, but I think it’s clear that the opposite view has cultural dominance, at least to the public. Just look at how often you hear products being advertised as “all natural” as if that was somehow a meaningful selling point.

It is an interesting dichotomy. Speaking of irony: how many people do you know who use “natural” products to discourage, trap, or kill pests (ants, wasps, weeds, mildew, etc…)

I think that some people see “natural” products as more in harmony with the environment and that therefore these products will have few side effects and a lesser effect on other parts of the environment. Take fertilizers for instance. A lot of folk want pretty lawns, but with all the news lately about how the use of such gets into runoff and destroys river and bay water life, some people look to other, supposedly biodegradable and less impacting products. Such efforts strike me as not all that different from your intentions (or mine) in preserving certain species and enviroments we like, but in many cases they only look at the marketing and not the actual chemical interaction. I sure that many of my “well intended” preservation efforts had issues and problems associated with them that I was ignorant of. But, I do recognize that I cannot have my cake (nice grass) and eat it too (not impact other aspects of the environment).

M. Suttkus wrote:

Keep in mind that this recovery could take thousands of years (longer, depending on the type of damage). From my selfish perspective, that’s just not fast enough!

I know, I know…sigh

I would love to be able to “live” for 100,000 or maybe a million years (with no life support requirements of course) and see a forest or coastal environment evolve. Sadly, if we are lucky we can appreciate the world around us for a scant 60 or so years (subtracting out the 15 or so years of childhood and adolescence when most of us have no appreciation for the world around us in any scientific sense) and we are not going to notice any kind of recovery in that time.

Sure, people should go ahead and use chemicals that they believe are toxic to their pets, children, and themselves because Ms. R L-T is sure that there are issues and problems associated with them that she’s ignorant of, and therefore people not using those chemicals is “ironic” … somehow. This seems to be the Alanis Morissette school of irony:

“Is the ironic thing about ‘Ironic’ that it’s not actually filled with ironies?”

Oops, that should be “because Ms. R L-T is sure that there are issues and problems associated with the alternatives that she’s ignorant of”. How ironic that I made that mistake.

And for the really really slow … what would be ironic is if substitutes for pollutants actually were shown to be worse for the environment than the pollutants themselves, but that has not been shown in the case of, say, trapping mice instead of poisoning them. A real case of irony is how decades of prevention of fires by the forest service led to disastrous huge fires because of the accumulation of undergrowth. The forest service learned from that and changed their ways.

There is now an online petition to save the Australian Lungfish

Have no fear.

Recent scientific findings have shown that the Australian Lungfish has converted to Christianity en masse and are now SAVED-ah!

Hallelujah!

(Unknown to anyone, Jesus is currently gathering up all the Lungfish to perform a new batch of fish duplication miracles for his next coming.)

It is good that you point out that Natural does not always equal good. Many people that eat “Organic” veggies don’t realise that the “Organic” products may be more harmful then the products they are replacing. For example corn that is naturally resistant to pests can contain more carcinogens then corn that requires the farmer to spray pesticides on his crop.

There is a Berkeley professor that came up with a commonly used test to messure carcinogens that says “Don’t eat organic vegitables because you think they are better for you. Eat them because they taste better”. His name escapes me right now but I’ll dig up his name and the test that he devised later today.

I’m not pro anything here but just like to chuckle when uninformed people make assumptions about issues because of the PR spin that has been placed on the issue.

Yep! “Organically” grown (I hate that term, all food is organic! Stop stealing perfectly good words to represent nonsense!) fruits and vegetables are attacked by more insects than food covered with “bad” man-made pesticides during their growth. As a result, they do what plants have always done when attacked by insects: Fill their cells with as much poison as they can stand.

The kicker is, man-made pesticides wash off. If you treat your produce properly and wash it before eating it, you don’t get any of those nasty man-made pesticides in your system. The all-natural, organic pesticides? You can’t wash them off! Their inside the cells!

Mind you, the pesticides aren’t all that harmful, but if you’re using “pesticides” as a reason to “go organic”, think again.

Re “Yep! “Organically” grown (I hate that term, all food is organic!”

Yeah, that misuse of terminology bugs me, too - is there such a thing as INorganic food?!? Nope - didn’t think so! :rollseyes:

Henry

What a pile of pathetically ignorant blithering. Is this what you guys learn in the Church of Monsanto every Sunday morning? Corn quite obviously has not evolved the ability to produce carcinogens in its kernels when pesticides are withheld, nor to suppress carcinogens in its kernels when pesticides are applied. And why would it? The corn kernel is a seed, and it’s perfectly fine, from the genes’ POV, for the kernels to be eaten. But it isn’t so fine for the farmers, which is why they use chemicals that keep the crows away. I’ve got a fig tree in my yard, and if I don’t cover it with bird netting, they’ll eat the figs the moment they turn purple. But I’m not using chemicals … OMG, I’m going to get cancer from eating those figs!

How effing stupid can you get?

Yeah, that misuse of terminology bugs me, too - is there such a thing as INorganic food?

Railing against strawmen bugs me. The term is not “organic food”, it’s “organically grown food”.

Perhaps you guys think that global warming and second hand smoking are harmless too. Don’t believe everything you read at junkscience.com just because the name sounds right and it attacks some junk science – it’s run by a crackpot and funded by oil companies.

To reiterate, this statement:

“Organically” grown … fruits and vegetables are attacked by more insects than food covered with “bad” man-made pesticides during their growth. As a result, they do what plants have always done when attacked by insects: Fill their cells with as much poison as they can stand.

is shockingly wrong and stupid from every aspect of biology, and it’s embarrassing to see it at PT. Plants do not inject poison into their fruits as a result of those fruits being attacked by insects. Much though we consumers don’t like such attacks because we don’t like bugs in our fruit, they don’t bother the plant and are even sometimes part of the germination process. Next you’ll be saying that the plants inject soap into the fruit so it doesn’t get dirty when it falls on the ground.

Plants do develop, through the evolutionary processes, not the mere presence or absence of insecticides, poisons in their limbs, roots, and seeds (e.g., cyanide in apricot and almond kernels) that prevent insects from killing the plant or the seed. But bugs eating fruit does not endanger the plant.

The kicker is, man-made pesticides wash off.

Yep. Right into the food chain.

Alas, everything is connected to everything else. Any thing we do, has an impact somewhere else. If we are to protect it, we must protect every part of it, and that will require far-ranging social, political, and economic changes. That is what makes ecology such a radical science.

It’s also why, deep down inside, despite all the talk, the US really doesn’t want to do anything about protecting the environment. As a society, we simply are not willing to do what would need to be done. Instead, we prefer, collectively, to salve our conscience by “buying organic” – a nice gesture, if utterly useless.

Being bugged by the way a word is used is not “Railing against strawmen”.

Henry

Being bugged by the way a word is used is not “Railing against strawmen”.

Are you being intentionally dense, or is it just your nature? Being bugged about the use of the phrase “organic foods” when that phrase is never used is a strawman. You asked “is there such a thing as INorganic food?” – no, but there is such a thing as “INorganically grown food”. Duh.

And for the folks both too dense to understand the meaning of “organically grown” and too inept to look up what is already obvious to any non-dense person:

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/food/organics.htm

“Organically grown” food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., biological pesticides) may also be used in producing organically grown food.

Popper’s ghost,

Why do you go out of your way to make people angry at you?

I expressed some dislike about the way a term gets used - that is not a reason for you to go into attack mode.

Henry

I expressed some dislike about the way a term gets used - that is not a reason for you to go into attack mode.

Dense and dishonest. “organically grown foods” does misuse any term.

make that “organically grown foods” does not misuse any term.

Suttkus wrote “Organically” grown (I hate that term, all food is organic! Stop stealing perfectly good words to represent nonsense!) fruits … … are neither of you sufficiently familiar with the English language to understand that “organically” modifies “grown”, not “fruits” in that sentence?

Dude.

Come on, Popper’s ghost.

Try to make your point without getting angry for once.

You may be correct, but you’re the one getting nothing out of this.

Always trying to prove yourself to be right.

Drop the anger.

Learn some tact.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

What a pile of pathetically ignorant blithering.

That’s the way to start a rational discussion!

Popper's ghost Wrote:

Is this what you guys learn in the Church of Monsanto every Sunday morning?

What’s a Monsanto?

Popper's ghost Wrote:

Corn quite obviously has not evolved the ability to produce carcinogens in its kernels when pesticides are withheld, nor to suppress carcinogens in its kernels when pesticides are applied.

Obviously. Thou hath declared it so, so surely it must be, thy will being the source of the implicit functioning of the universe. Reality can just stuff itself.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

And why would it? The corn kernel is a seed, and it’s perfectly fine, from the genes’ POV, for the kernels to be eaten.

Um… Popper, old chap, this may be news to you but eaten is not eaten is not eaten. Seeds are designed to be eaten by different animals. Peppers are hot because they contain a chemical to dissuade mammals from eating them. Peppers prefer bird consumption. Pepper seeds aren’t built to survive intense mammalian digestion, but pass just fine through less intense bird digestion. Conversely, many seeds need to be scarified by intense mammalian digestion before they will germinate, being eaten by birds wastes the seed.

Insects are quite another matter entirely. To my knowledge, there is not a single seed in the world spread by insects. Pollen, sure, but not seeds. I may have missed something, but I doubt it. Most seeds aren’t small enough to be eaten as a unit by typical insect. Large insects tend to be leaf consumers (lubber grasshoppers), detritivores (most of the larger beetles) or they don’t eat (luna moths). None of these is spreading seeds. Conversely, seeds small enough to spread by your typical insect don’t bother: They’re wind blown. Any insect transport is incidental and transport by digestion of seeds this small borders on ludicrous.

What insects eat corn? Caterpillars. Now, THERE is an animal suited for spreading seeds! Not only does it sit on one plant and never go anywhere, but it takes multiple bites to fit the seed into it’s digestive system. How well do you think seeds work when cut up into bits, PG? Tell you what, go down to your local organically grown produce market and get some corn. Pop it off the cob, then run it through the blender on puree. Make sure none of the kernals sneak through intact, they certainly won’t get through the caterpillar that way! Plant the resulting goop and tell me what happens. Yes, seeds just LOVE being eaten by insects.

So, you’re absolutely right. Plants have NO reason to stock up on pesticides since insects are invariably friend to fruit. Apples consumed by worms are just as attractive to seed spreading mammals as perfect ones. Certainly, plants never worry about insect borne disease as a reason to discourage insects from chewing on them. Nope!

I notice you didn’t even bother to address the part about the vegetable portion of plants stockpiling pesticides as well. What’s the matter? Couldn’t think of a spin for it?

The fact remains: “organically grown” plant material has a higher rate of “organic” pesticides, pesticides that cannot be washed off the fruit or vegetable. If some mythical total avoidance of pesticides and carcinogens is a goal (above and beyond the actual danger limits set by the EPA), then “organically grown” food should be avoided.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

But it isn’t so fine for the farmers, which is why they use chemicals that keep the crows away. I’ve got a fig tree in my yard, and if I don’t cover it with bird netting, they’ll eat the figs the moment they turn purple. But I’m not using chemicals … OMG, I’m going to get cancer from eating those figs!

Where did we leap from insects to birds?

And, no plants filled with these pesticides aren’t particularly carcinogenic. But then, neither are the plants grown with “non-organic” pesticides. It’s all paranoia. It’s just hypocritical paranoia which amuses me.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

How effing stupid can you get?

I don’t know. Let me know when you reach some kind of limit and tell me.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

Railing against strawmen bugs me. The term is not “organic food”, it’s “organically grown food”.

The term? THE term? You get to define the entire industry? Let’s google for for the terms and see what we get:

“organic food” 9,920,000 hits. “organically grown” 1,740,000 hits.

Yeah, we’re CLEARLY reaching here and sticking a strawman term on an industry that NEVER uses it.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

Perhaps you guys think that global warming and second hand smoking are harmless too.

Oh, but WE are making strawmen. Get over yourself, PG.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

Don’t believe everything you read at junkscience.com just because the name sounds right and it attacks some junk science — it’s run by a crackpot and funded by oil companies.

I’ve never even been to junkscience.com, but if you oppose it I might have to look into it.

Popper’s Ghost,

I think for now I’ll decline your generous offer of a flame war.

Henry

As Michael points out there are problems with Popper’s comments.

First a plant that is not sprayed with pesticides will not produce more “natural” toxins then the same plant that is sprayed.

The problem is that its farmers that are effecting the natural toxins. Farmers being farmers they want crop that actually makes it to the market and is not eaten away by insects. Thus farmers choise crops that are naturally pest resistant if they are not going to use other pesticides.

In the wild over many generations plants that don’t have pesticides applied to them will build up more toxins then those plants that do have pesticides applied to them because it makes them more fit. IE the ones that aren’t getting their seeds destroyed by pests are the ones to actually make it to the next generation.

So when farmer John goes to buy his corn seed he does not just go down to the local DIY warehouse and ask for twenty thousand packets of sweet corn seeds and plant them. He goes and investigates what lines of corn will produce the greatest amount of crop at the end of the season taking into account his plans for fertilising, irrigation, length of season, expected weather, use of pesticides, etc. If farmer john does not want to use pesticides because he believes it will make him more money when he harvests his crop he’s going to go for a line that is naturally resistant to pests that threaten his crop. This natural resistant comes from that line essentially producing something that is “bad” for the pests within its cells.

If you think “natural” and “organic” = good then I can point you to a few “natural” and “organic” poisons that will have you in a coffin very soon after consumption.

Henry J Wrote:

Popper’s Ghost,

I think for now I’ll decline your generous offer of a flame war.

My problem is I’ve *never* had this kind of smarts. :-)

Wayne Francis Wrote:

As Michael points out there are problems with Popper’s comments.

First a plant that is not sprayed with pesticides will not produce more “natural” toxins then the same plant that is sprayed.

Well, if that was the case, it would be a problem with my comments, not PG’s.

However, it’s not the case. Plants attacked by insects produce pesticides in response. This is no more surprising than that humans produce more white blood cells when sick (experiencing an attack of germs). I remember reading about a study on potatoes probably last year, but I haven’t been able to track it down right off.

Wayne Francis Wrote:

The problem is that its farmers that are effecting the natural toxins. Farmers being farmers they want crop that actually makes it to the market and is not eaten away by insects. Thus farmers choise crops that are naturally pest resistant if they are not going to use other pesticides.

There is little doubt that this is also a factor.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on August 7, 2006 10:43 AM.

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