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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 697)...

    I just read Ishmael and found it thought provoking in many ways. The central tenet seems to be that Taker culture, in its present course, has harmed and will eventually destroy the environment.

    I am familiar with much of the literature that supports this apocalyptic vision. However, I find Bjorn Lomborg's book "Skeptical Environmentalist," in which he discredits much of this premise, to be quite credible. My own research and observations put me in varying degrees of agreement with Lomborg.

    Do you have any comment on Lomborg's research and have you considered the possibility that your assertions of imminent environmental destruction are exaggerated or simply false?

    ...and the response:

    According to a 1998 survey of 400 scientists commissioned by New York's American Museum of Natural History, the rapid disappearance of species was ranked as one of the planet's gravest environmental worries, surpassing pollution, global warming, and the thinning of the ozone layer. "The speed at which species are being lost is much faster than any we've seen in the past including those [extinctions] related to meteor collisions," said Daniel Simberloff, a University of Tennessee ecologist and prominent expert in biological diversity who participated in the museum's survey. Most of his peers apparently agree. Nearly seven out of 10 of the biologists polled said they believed a "mass extinction" was underway, and an equal number predicted that up to one fifth of all living species could disappear within 30 years. Nearly all attributed the losses to human activity, especially the destruction of plant and animal habitats.

    Four years later CNN's global environmental correspondent Gary Stieker wrote: "There is virtual unanimity among scientists that we have entered a period of mass extinction not seen since the age of the dinosaurs, an emerging global crisis that could have disastrous effects on our future food supplies, our search for new medicines, and on the water we drink and the air we breathe. Estimates vary, but extinction is figured by experts to be taking place between 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural 'background' extinction."

    On this basis (and I could add much more to it), I'm not going to lose any sleep over your or Lomborg's skepticism.


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