Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pro Life Agenda

No, not that pro life. The life I am talking about is every living being on the planet: all animals, plants, insects, bacterias and everything else that is alive. My agenda is to maximize the amount of biomass on earth and net primary productivity (NPP). Instead of just allowing nature to take its course, the pro life agenda attempts to manage the earth in a way to make it as hospitable as possible for life.

To maximize life, all land and ocean area should be made as productive as possible. This graph ranks different types of ecosystems by their productivity. To maximize life, we want as much land as possible in the most productive areas of estuaries, swamps, tropical rainforests, and temperate forests. This means that we should minimize as much as possible the cutting down of forests to replace with cropland, or removing swamp land.

The prolife agenda is also anti desolate areas like deserts, arctic regions and barren areas of the ocean. We should attempt to make these areas more hospitable for life. If we can bring nutrients (in the form of fertilizers) and water to deserts areas to allow them to maintain more life, that would be a good thing. If we can "fertilize" the oceans so more plankton can live, and therefore support more animals that feed on them (and those higher up on the food chain that feed on them), that would be good. If we can build artificial reefs which allow for more sea life, good.

The pro-life agenda is obviously against those things that destroy life such as fires, and volcanoes. It is also against concrete and other human settlements which take up land that could be used to grow grasses, trees or other forms of life.

The pro-life agenda realizes that not all life is equal. Measuring total biomass by itself is not enough. You mush also look at biodiversity and biocomplexity. Having more species is a good thing. Having complex and intelligent life is a good thing. So there is some trade-off between biomass, biodiversity and biocomplexity. How exactly do you make the trade-offs? I am not sure.

For example, so called dead zones exist in oceans where fertilizer has runoff. There is actually abundant amounts of micro-life in dead-zones, but they grow so fast they use up the oxygen and kill larger beings like fish. How do you compare the life of millions of bacteria and plankton with those of a few fish?

Using pesticides kills small bugs, but it allows more food for humans. Is this a good thing? We are allowing more complex life (in the form of humans) to exist. In general, should we try and limit the amount of NPP that humans use? How do you measure the trade-off between more 150lb humans or more animals? Do we want to maximize the amount of humans on the planet, or do we want to limit it at some point to allow for other forms of life to exist?

I also, don't understand the impact of having more layers in the food chain. If you add an extra layer of carnivores in the mix (going from grass->cow->bear to grass->cow->bear->man), does that decrease the total amount of biomass on the earth? I would think so, but I am not sure. And even if it does decrease the total biomass, does the added diversity these species bring make it more valuable then the biomass we are giving up?

The agenda is positive toward nuclear, wind, and wave energy and other sources which create electricity without any impact on life. That energy can be used to create hydrogen which can be used to create fertilizer, which can be used to increase life. The pro-life agenda is positive towards solar panels if you put them where life has a hard time living (like the Sahara desert). If they replace living grasses or other plants, then this is anti-life. Better to have plants or bacteria capture the energy of the sun.

In general the agenda is neutral toward machines, but if they take energy that could be used for living beings then it is anti-machine. It is pro integration of life into our machines. The more we can use bacteria and other forms of life to create our electricity, such as this, the better:

What if you could power your house with sewage? Or run your pacemaker with blood sugar rather than a traditional battery? Scientists hope that microbial fuel cells -- devices that use bacteria to generate electricity -- could one day make this vision a reality.
There are conclusions that draw from this theory that I am not sure I agree with.

It is anti bio-fuels. Bio-fuels take energy away from living things and give it to machines. The corn or switchgrass that is converted to ethanol to be burned in our cars' engines could instead be used to support horses, humans, or other forms of life. From a pro-life agenda it is better to use grass and horses for transportation than switchgrass being converted to ethanol to fuel a non-living car.

The pro-life agenda is pro fossil fuels. Fossil fuels give us energy to live our lives without needing bio-fuels. Fossil fuels can also be used to create fertilizer which allows plants to grow faster, thereby creating more life.

The pro-life agenda is pro global warming. Increases in CO2 in the atmosphere allow plants to grow faster. Warmer weather allows vast stretches of land in Canada and Russia to be much more productive. There may be a level when increasing the temperature is no longer pro-life, but most estimates point to increases in NPP for the next century due to increases of CO2 and global warming.

The pro life agenda is an attempt to manage the earth in a way that makes it most hospitable for life. It looks at total biomass and NPP as measurements of life. It finds that the most productive type of land are estuaries, swamps, tropical rain forests, and temperate forests and tries to conserve these. It sees desolate types of areas like arctic regions, deserts and barren parts of the ocean and attempts to change them to increase life. It realizes that besides biomass, biocomplexity and biodiversity are important, but there is no simple way to quantify trade-offs. It attempts to capture energy in any way possible and convert it into fertilizer to create more life. It is neutral toward machines, but attempts to use life substitutes whenever possible. It is anti biofuels that are used to run machines when they could be feed to living beings instead. It is pro fossil fuels, increased levels of CO2 and global warming to the extent they increase life on earth.


Wes said...

I think ethanol is the way to go in this country similar to how brazil is currently close to becoming totally energy independant and a complete selection of ethanol or gas at the pumps. I know the U.S. has a totally differet economy, size, and infrastructure but I do think we can use brazil as a model for the right direction to go in. I think corn growers are eager for government support as they have excess suply and have already taken steps to convert into ethanol and sell. E-85 and other alternatives are exciting and I hope perhaps with a change in administration we can move in a new direction.

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Anonymous said...

Ok Wes you obviously are not that well read because if you were you would know that our country can only produce enough corn to supply 10 percent of our countries gas consumption. Secondly what kind of effect do you think it will have on the rest of our economy if many of our farmers switch to growing corn. ALL food across the board will go up in price. Try not to be so short sighted and buy into the media hype of ethanol. The solution is not that simle.

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