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Old December 21 2013, 08:34 AM   #107
Rhubarbodendron
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Location: milky way, outer spiral arm, Sol 3
Re: Mars One - Unethical?

*bangs head on keyboard* Argh! What an ingeniousely simple solution! Oh dear, I really need that vacation!
I think you'd have liked matrix He was an interesting poster, sometimes a bit controversial but always up to a good discussion. Very nice kid, though at times a bit hotheaded (but hey, so am I and I'm ancient).

So, returning to the point where we initially disagreed: destruction of the planet.
That was perhaps phrased a bit too general on my side. But can we agree that humans are doing a great deal of harm to the ecosystem?

I'm admittedly very partial because in my job I am confronted with these things every day: people in our (somewhat poor) neighbouring country heat with cheap brown coal which contains a horrible lot of sulphur. When you burn it, it forms sulphur dioxide which evaporates with the smoke. It then connects to the moisture in the air and you get sulphuric acid rain. In consequence our forrests die slowly but surely.
Apart from the reduced oxigen production and Carbondioxide uptake, there are other consequences: the forrests are like a sponge and store water. The groundwater level has fallen dramatically in my area over the last decades (while the water use has actually gotten less - we save wherever we can. Example: average German uses less than 10 gallons per day; average US citizen uses more than 30 gallons per day; industrial use not included in these figures).
When the forrests die, the soil doesn't get held in place by roots anymore: our mountains turn to deserts.
This makes the rain (and avalanches!) come down a good deal faster on the villages and towns. Floods come quicker and much higher than they used to.
The microclimate is affected as well since the forrests kept the wind off. We get worse storms than we used to.
And those are merely the consequences of using the wrong fuel for heating in my area (not even globally). And only the consequences for humans. The native flora and fauna is affected much worse than we are.

The problem is that this is no isolated phenomenon. On a planet everything is connected. We are dealing with equations with zillions of unknown factors. This way we can hardly predict the consequences of what we are doing. But I think the example shows that the consequences can unexpectedly get terribly huge.

When I go out with school classes, we play a game: everyone gets a card with an animal or a plant. We use a ball of wool and everyone holds the thread and throws the ball to a person who has a plant or animal that interacts with their own one. After a few rounds you have a huge spiderweb Now we extinct one animal or plant. The kid with that card drops his threads. And the whole web breaks down.
I love that game because it visualizes the connections so well. A kid that once played it will always have an understanding for the connections in an ecosystem.
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