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Thread: Why don't we dump nuclear waste in Death Valley?

  1. #101  
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    You're right, Pong, but even if the microbes could migrate, it's not going to destroy any ecosystems. A high radiation field generally kills microbes, which wouldn't affect any other organism.

    What if the radioactive materials were not buried but were scattered all over the surface of the ground? Still no destroyed ecosystem. That's what happened at Chernobyl, where the surrounding area is practically a wildlife sanctuary.
     

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    For a lot of people, change = destroy. It's an unfortunate world view, because things have to change if they are to get any better.

    Either way, we don't have much choice in this matter. We will have to destroy an ecosystem or two at some point in the future over this problem. It would be good for us to choose that ecosystem strategically. The question to ask is which one has the least life in it? The question is not: "which one has no life in it?" If you ask that question, the answer will be : "Absolutely nothing anywhere."
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    We will have to destroy an ecosystem or two at some point in the future over this problem.
    I don't understand what you are saying. Do you mean the organisms that would be destroyed by a high radiation field in the immediate area of the nuclear waste? That would only be a few acres. We pave over ecosystems that size every day.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    We will have to destroy an ecosystem or two at some point in the future over this problem.
    I don't understand what you are saying. Do you mean the organisms that would be destroyed by a high radiation field in the immediate area of the nuclear waste? That would only be a few acres. We pave over ecosystems that size every day.
    That's the really funny part of it, isn't it? For some reason, people object to doing the same thing with radiation that we do with concrete. Same scale, same everything. Underground ecosystems are a real thing, but they are very very sparse. Without sunlight reaching it, the only way food energy reaches a deep underground cave is by critters carrying it down there, because you can't have plant life without photosynthesis.
     

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    I had a wild though. Someone tell me if it has merit or not please.

    We take the waste that has been encapsulated in the glass for, what was it? Started with a "v"... Anyway, as we reach the limits of an undersea oil reserve, we pump them down at a slow rate with the water we use to displace the oil. I would think they would have a very deep grave to never cause us harm again. Even is we keep pumping oil from such a reserve, they should stay deep. Any possible radioactivity absorbed by the hydrocarbons should be very short lived, and small.

    Am I wrong about any of this?
     

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    A fair amount of oil does seep up naturally. The liquefied waste then mixed with oil, floating straight to the surface..? Ocean surface is the last place we want it. I know the waste in theory sinks to the bottom of a now water-filled cavity, but in reality there will be oil deposits lower down and buoyantly working up up up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    A fair amount of oil does seep up naturally. The liquefied waste then mixed with oil, floating straight to the surface..? Ocean surface is the last place we want it. I know the waste in theory sinks to the bottom of a now water-filled cavity, but in reality there will be oil deposits lower down and buoyantly working up up up.
    I agree, but keep in mind my point about hydrocarbons not staying radioactive long. Even water for that matter. I haven't looked at all the isotope variations, but my instinct tells me this would be a viable way to discard nuclear waste.
     

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    I'm inclined to agree. What i've learned from this thread, and a bit of research about it; is that nuclear waste is nasty but not unacceptably nasty, if we are reasonably conscientious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Underground ecosystems are a real thing, but they are very very sparse. Without sunlight reaching it, the only way food energy reaches a deep underground cave is by critters carrying it down there, because you can't have plant life without photosynthesis.
    Someone reactivated this dead thread an I noticed this statement. It's completely wrong. There are plenty of organisms working of the chemical energy available in deep rock. They don't need this newfangled photosynthesis.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Underground ecosystems are a real thing, but they are very very sparse. Without sunlight reaching it, the only way food energy reaches a deep underground cave is by critters carrying it down there, because you can't have plant life without photosynthesis.
    Someone reactivated this dead thread an I noticed this statement. It's completely wrong. There are plenty of organisms working of the chemical energy available in deep rock. They don't need this newfangled photosynthesis.
    I suppose I'm just going off books I've read about cave diving. It's good to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable. Anyway, now I'm really curious about these organisms. Are there any good search terms I could use?

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    Anyway, I am not in favor of dumping into the desert. I have sometimes wondered "what if" we were to cut a channel or build a huge pipeline from the ocean, and allow the desert to fill to sea level. I think it would be an overall positive act, but difficult and has problems as well. Thoughts?

    How about volume. How much would the sea level be lowered by?
     

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    Not any notable volume.

    Three major problems though, number one is location, its not exactly on the coast, its basically on the border of California and Nevada. Number two is the complete destruction of a unique ecosystem and all the endemic flora and fauna that live there. Numbr three is that the area is a National Park already so you would have to get it removed from the park system first.
     

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    That and all you would end up with is a hypersaline lake with less life in it that what you started with.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Not any notable volume.

    Three major problems though, number one is location, its not exactly on the coast, its basically on the border of California and Nevada. Number two is the complete destruction of a unique ecosystem and all the endemic flora and fauna that live there. Number three is that the area is a National Park already so you would have to get it removed from the park system first.
    I was thinking more in terms of the ecological change it may bring. I didn't think there was enough volume lower the sea level, but I didn't know that for sure. Any idea how many square miles is below sea level? Enough water would change the surrounding climate, probably giving us more usable land for future development.
     

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    Your going to end up with a hypersaline lake so the overall change would not be positive, specially with the complete obliteration of the native ecosystem taken into account.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra View Post
    Anyway, I am not in favor of dumping into the desert. I have sometimes wondered "what if" we were to cut a channel or build a huge pipeline from the ocean, and allow the desert to fill to sea level. I think it would be an overall positive act, but difficult and has problems as well. Thoughts?

    How about volume. How much would the sea level be lowered by?
    I've been wondering if we could use it as pumped storage. I'm sure it would require very strong pipes to keep the suction, but just think if we could adjust water levels as a way of storing energy. Seems like it would be a lot of energy.

    Or maybe harvest tidal energy from it by letting the water flow back and forth during high and low tide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Not any notable volume.

    Three major problems though, number one is location, its not exactly on the coast, its basically on the border of California and Nevada. Number two is the complete destruction of a unique ecosystem and all the endemic flora and fauna that live there. Number three is that the area is a National Park already so you would have to get it removed from the park system first.
    I was thinking more in terms of the ecological change it may bring. I didn't think there was enough volume lower the sea level, but I didn't know that for sure. Any idea how many square miles is below sea level? Enough water would change the surrounding climate, probably giving us more usable land for future development.
    If global warming goes as badly as predicted, lowering the ocean level might be both a good thing, and very necessary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra View Post
    Anyway, I am not in favor of dumping into the desert. I have sometimes wondered "what if" we were to cut a channel or build a huge pipeline from the ocean, and allow the desert to fill to sea level. I think it would be an overall positive act, but difficult and has problems as well. Thoughts?

    How about volume. How much would the sea level be lowered by?
    I've been wondering if we could use it as pumped storage. I'm sure it would require very strong pipes to keep the suction, but just think if we could adjust water levels as a way of storing energy. Seems like it would be a lot of energy.

    Or maybe harvest tidal energy from it by letting the water flow back and forth during high and low tide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Not any notable volume.

    Three major problems though, number one is location, its not exactly on the coast, its basically on the border of California and Nevada. Number two is the complete destruction of a unique ecosystem and all the endemic flora and fauna that live there. Number three is that the area is a National Park already so you would have to get it removed from the park system first.
    I was thinking more in terms of the ecological change it may bring. I didn't think there was enough volume lower the sea level, but I didn't know that for sure. Any idea how many square miles is below sea level? Enough water would change the surrounding climate, probably giving us more usable land for future development.
    If global warming goes as badly as predicted, lowering the ocean level might be both a good thing, and very necessary.
    A 300 mile pipeline? For creation of a hypersaline lake? Remember the amount of evaporation will be very high, so salt concentration will rapidly increase.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post

    A 300 mile pipeline? For creation of a hypersaline lake? Remember the amount of evaporation will be very high, so salt concentration will rapidly increase.
    Hmmm.. that's an added bonus. More evaporation means there's more change in water level, means more potential energy. Wonderful. Of course, for such a project, the first thing we must admit at the outset is that the ecosystem will not survive. However, I just realized this is about the worst idea in the world because of the same problem that has been discussed in another thread. Would we really want to be moving large volumes of water around near a fault as unstable as San Andreas? I think we wouldn't.

    3 Gorges Dam in China, causing Earthquakes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post

    A 300 mile pipeline? For creation of a hypersaline lake? Remember the amount of evaporation will be very high, so salt concentration will rapidly increase.
    Hmmm.. that's an added bonus. More evaporation means there's more change in water level, means more potential energy. Wonderful. Of course, for such a project, the first thing we must admit at the outset is that the ecosystem will not survive. However, I just realized this is about the worst idea in the world because of the same problem that has been discussed in another thread. Would we really want to be moving large volumes of water around near a fault as unstable as San Andreas? I think we wouldn't.

    3 Gorges Dam in China, causing Earthquakes?


    The evaporation just means more water temporarily in the atmosphere, but the same amount cycling into the ocean for he most part, so there would be no drop in water level.
     

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    If Death Valley were used for tidal power, the idea is that, when the ocean's tide comes in, Death Valley's water level is lower, so water flows toward it. When the Ocean's tide goes out, then Death Valley's water level is higher so water flows back toward the ocean. If Death Valley's water level were to drop due to evaporation, so it was lower than the Ocean, that's just an added bonus.

    Basically the idea is to use it as a massive "Tidal Barrage". But, as I was noting earlier, California is just plain not a good place to go moving geologically significant amounts of mass around.

    Tidal barrage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    The volume of water would be sitting the the western edge of the fairly tectonically stable Serra Nevada, and it is not actually that large an amount. The region that is actually below sea level is an area smaller then the salton sea. I also dont see the 300 miles of piping lasing very long in the hypersaline conditions.

    And why is the loss of a unique ecosystem and the endemic flora and fauna something to even be considered?
     

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    Yeah. I didn't think about the salt water erosion either. Also, how to filter out marine life so it doesn't start to clog, or build up a residue.
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    Still interested in why the endemic flora/fauna are expendable.
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    What do those endemic flora or fauna do to benefit us humans? Maybe I have a very species-centric view, but usually I only care about the environment to the degree that it will affect the economy later on. If a certain form of damage isn't likely to cause a problem, now, or at any time in the future, but causing that damage could enable us to prevent other damages that do impact human civilization, then I would say it's a fair trade.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What do those endemic flora or fauna do to benefit us humans? Maybe I have a very species-centric view, but usually I only care about the environment to the degree that it will affect the economy later on. If a certain form of damage isn't likely to cause a problem, now, or at any time in the future, but causing that damage could enable us to prevent other damages that do impact human civilization, then I would say it's a fair trade.
    And where do you draw the line between beneficial. As a national park it draws tourists and generates money for the residents in and around the death valley area. As a protected area it provides a relatively undisturbed research areas for things like desert research, heat research, and paleoclimatic research. It is not a barren stretch of sand that us useless. Also why are things that are only beneficial now deemed worthy? if species such as the pacific yew had been obliterated as not important when first discovered due to them not being important to the human species, we would not have the chemotherapy drug Taxol today. Just because it may not seem to have importance does not me it will not have importance.
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    Well, I discovered there wouldn't be enough surface area to make the difference I was hoping for, so I'll scrap the idea.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What do those endemic flora or fauna do to benefit us humans? Maybe I have a very species-centric view, but usually I only care about the environment to the degree that it will affect the economy later on. If a certain form of damage isn't likely to cause a problem, now, or at any time in the future, but causing that damage could enable us to prevent other damages that do impact human civilization, then I would say it's a fair trade.
    And where do you draw the line between beneficial. As a national park it draws tourists and generates money for the residents in and around the death valley area. As a protected area it provides a relatively undisturbed research areas for things like desert research, heat research, and paleoclimatic research. It is not a barren stretch of sand that us useless.
    There's no clear way to evaluate it's aesthetic meaning. People make similar complaints about damming off the rivers near where I live in Oregon, but those dams provide a tremendous increase in quality of life in the area. Everyone wants their electricity for free, at absolute perfect zero cost, or the cost isn't "small enough".


    Also why are things that are only beneficial now deemed worthy? if species such as the pacific yew had been obliterated as not important when first discovered due to them not being important to the human species, we would not have the chemotherapy drug Taxol today. Just because it may not seem to have importance does not me it will not have importance.
    Maybe it's because, if you haven't noticed, the world economy is in trouble, and most of the problem is the direct result of energy shortages. Ask a person in the third world whether they would prefer to starve to death because their country can't industrialize and raise its production levels...... but some obscure flower hardly anyone has ever seen or heard of won't go extinct..... or get rid of a desert and set up a clean energy power plant. Let him show you his children before you accept his answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What do those endemic flora or fauna do to benefit us humans? Maybe I have a very species-centric view, but usually I only care about the environment to the degree that it will affect the economy later on. If a certain form of damage isn't likely to cause a problem, now, or at any time in the future, but causing that damage could enable us to prevent other damages that do impact human civilization, then I would say it's a fair trade.
    And where do you draw the line between beneficial. As a national park it draws tourists and generates money for the residents in and around the death valley area. As a protected area it provides a relatively undisturbed research areas for things like desert research, heat research, and paleoclimatic research. It is not a barren stretch of sand that us useless.
    There's no clear way to evaluate it's aesthetic meaning. People make similar complaints about damming off the rivers near where I live in Oregon, but those dams provide a tremendous increase in quality of life in the area. Everyone wants their electricity for free, at absolute perfect zero cost, or the cost isn't "small enough".


    Also why are things that are only beneficial now deemed worthy? if species such as the pacific yew had been obliterated as not important when first discovered due to them not being important to the human species, we would not have the chemotherapy drug Taxol today. Just because it may not seem to have importance does not me it will not have importance.
    Maybe it's because, if you haven't noticed, the world economy is in trouble, and most of the problem is the direct result of energy shortages. Ask a person in the third world whether they would prefer to starve to death because their country can't industrialize and raise its production levels...... but some obscure flower hardly anyone has ever seen or heard of won't go extinct..... or get rid of a desert and set up a clean energy power plant. Let him show you his children before you accept his answer.
    The fact that people are pumping $s into local economies around the region give a very viable measure that people do think it is a viable use of the reason.

    Thing is we are NOT a third world country so we DO have the valid reason to actually give a crap about the natural world.
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    I was watching a Jean Michel Cousteau doco on TV earlier today. They talked of the drums of nuclear waste dumped into the ocean in the 1940's and showed some on underwater video - now rusted open with all contents discharged. The general theme was "How terrible - that they should so pollute the ocean!"

    My reaction was different. Mine was : "How interesting that there has been no measurable negative impact."
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post

    The fact that people are pumping $s into local economies around the region give a very viable measure that people do think it is a viable use of the reason.

    Thing is we are NOT a third world country so we DO have the valid reason to actually give a crap about the natural world.
    What we are is an arrogant nation that thinks its economy is so good that no amount of wasteful spending can ever bring it down. Watching dollars tells you what peoples' priorities are, but dollars aren't wealth. Dollars are disposable human effort. That effort is only valuable if it's directed toward a plan that has a genuine potential to change something. Just paying people to run around like chickens with their heads cut off, "raising awareness", isn't going to fix anything. Peoples' first response to everything these days is to throw money at the problem.

    We have to dedicate physical resources to the problem, and build infrastructure in places that are capable of generating a meaningful return.
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    Which is a very veyr right now and no thouught given to the future generations attitude. yes we have to fix things but destroying everything in that effort is just going to mess it up for the next generations. The Columbia hydro projects are a prefect example of that, only thinking of hte agriculture/manufacturing benefits, and so cutting off the spawning grounds for the fish, resulting massive declines in Salmon runs.
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    I think I just understand why anyone cares about "genetic diversity". Soon we'll be splicing genes on our own. We can create more species. The billions upon billions that exist right now are far in excess of our needs. Sure, the next cancer cure will probably be an obscure flower or something. Odds are, there will be multiple flowers all capable of doing the same thing. It's just that usually when a researcher finds the first one they assume it's the only one, and stop looking for more, which creates the "only this one could have worked" fallacy.
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    "Our needs" how anthropocentric can you get? The more we destroy of the ecosystems the more unstable they will become and the more they will break down.

    "only this one could have worked" fallacy? wft? you really dont have a large understanding ecology do you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I think I just understand why anyone cares about "genetic diversity". We can create more species. The billions upon billions that exist right now are far in excess of our needs.
    I think it's more a growing morality that all species and the habitat they live in, whether directly useful to humans or now, have inherent value. A species survival is directly related to its genetic diversity.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; July 29th, 2011 at 07:07 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I think I just understand why anyone cares about "genetic diversity". We can create more species. The billions upon billions that exist right now are far in excess of our needs.
    I think it's more a growing morality that all species and the habitat they live in, whether directly useful to humans or now, have inherent value. A species survival is directly related to its genetic diversity.
    Inherent value? To whom? For what reason? Survival directly related to genetic diversity? Many species now extinct had greater genetic diversity than E. coli bacterium, but it is still around and they are not.

    Defend your positions.

    And returning to the "topic"

    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; July 31st, 2011 at 05:31 PM.
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    FP, I'm not defending anything merely stating a fact that there certainly it a trend towards morality that involves protecting other life, it's in humanism, development of animal ethical standards, bioethics and being incorporated into many of our laws. You might not agree with it, but it's silly to deny it.

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    This thread is so far off it's original topic I might just toss it into general sub-forum. Your thoughts?
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I think I just understand why anyone cares about "genetic diversity". We can create more species. The billions upon billions that exist right now are far in excess of our needs.
    I think it's more a growing morality that all species and the habitat they live in, whether directly useful to humans or now, have inherent value. A species survival is directly related to its genetic diversity.
    Inherent value? To whom? For what reason? Survival directly related to genetic diversity? Many species now extinct had greater genetic diversity than E. coli bacterium, but it is still around and they are not.

    Defend your positions.

    And returning to the topic:

    deleted spam link
    Do you have a reference for the assertion of higher genetic diversity?

    and this is NOT the place to spam for threads you have created elsewhere on the forum.
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  38. #138  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    FP, I'm not defending anything merely stating a fact that there certainly it a trend towards morality that involves protecting other life, it's in humanism, development of animal ethical standards, bioethics and being incorporated into many of our laws. You might not agree with it, but it's silly to deny it.

    --
    This thread is so far off it's original topic I might just toss it into general sub-forum. Your thoughts?
    While the last part of finger princes post is certainly irrelevant spamming, the first part and the commentary up till this point still seems related to the topic, in that is an evolving thread on the usage of death Valley and consequences of the use.
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  39. #139  
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    Would not consider it "irrelevant spamming", for this promising technology would in fact allow Death Valley and other areas to continue in pristine, undisturbed state by disposing of nuclear "waste" via transmutation by neutron bombardment. So much for that charge, next objection?
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
     

  40. #140  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    FP, I'm not defending anything merely stating a fact that there certainly it a trend towards morality that involves protecting other life, it's in humanism, development of animal ethical standards, bioethics and being incorporated into many of our laws. You might not agree with it, but it's silly to deny it.

    --
    This thread is so far off it's original topic I might just toss it into general sub-forum. Your thoughts?
    You are most certainly not defending your statements, LF. So why not explain for poor Prince instead? If fault line allowed sea to flood Death Valley, would this be moral or amoral? If human beings did same to benefit species via hydropower extraction, would be moral or amoral? Do human beings count for more in moral calculation than exotic plants and animals?

    If not, why not?

    It must be great sin to exterminate smallpox virus, instead of letting it ravage humanity as it has for much of history- and to upset personal ecology by treating scabies or lice infestation, to say nothing of poor typhus microbes, OH! For SHAME!!!

    Humanity and the sins of modern medicine have much to answer for!!!

    But Death Valley and nuclear "waste" are the original subject, not pseudomoral ecological convolutions of logic.
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; August 1st, 2011 at 01:52 AM.
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  41. #141  
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    Just what IS "safe level" of radiation? Is it necessary to scour Earth for sources of natural background radiation to wring hands about, ecological fanatics?
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; August 1st, 2011 at 01:56 AM.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
     

  42. #142  
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    I went back to see what happened. This thread was long dead, brought back after more than half a year by someone who's now suspended; it then didn't stay on topic very well after that point.

    If it's of interest start another more focused thread so we can have a productive discussion. I'm closing this one.
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