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Microbe extinction

Started by TomFoolery, November 02, 2015, 01:33:15 PM

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TomFoolery

We eradicated smallpox in the 1970s and to this day it exists in only two known repositories in the world. The global health community has been working on polio for some time and has made some inroads but still has some ways to go.

But the question is, do we have a right to deliberately cause the extinction of these viruses in the interest of humanity? What about non-viral means of infection, such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa or parasites?
How can you be sure my refusal to agree with your claim a symptom of my ignorance and not yours?

Hydra009

#1
Yes, yes, and yes.  Also, disease-spreading mosquitoes and US senators.

peacewithoutgod

Who gives us "rights" anyway? We do, when we take them, and since we don't support belief in gods here, then there is no entity which would object. The decision regarding ultra-simple life forms which are nothing but malevolent to other life forms, especially when they are a threat to sentient forms is therefore a no-brainer, unless you can present a case worth hearing on why anybody would miss Smallpox, polio, flesh-eating bacteria which attacks living animal life, or the like. As the most powerful species on this earth, we are its gods, and we decide what our rights are as a species in the phylum Chordata according to our collective self-interests and our conscience. With our position at the pinnacle species comes certain responsibilities, but among them are not "do nothing and let all be". Most evil is done by those which are capable of doing something about evil and instead do nothing. Therefore, we should not even risk preserving those remaining two vials of smallpox, they should be safely destroyed before some militaristic sociopath tries to weaponize them. 
There are two types of ideas: fact and non-fact. Ideas which are not falsifiable are non-fact, therefore please don't insist your fantasies of supernatural beings are in any way factual.

Doctrine = not to be questioned = not to be proven = not fact. When you declare your doctrine fact, you lie.

peacewithoutgod

Quote from: Hydra009 on November 02, 2015, 01:39:59 PM
Yes, yes, and yes.  Also, disease-spreading mosquitoes and US senators.
Starting with the senators as top priority!
There are two types of ideas: fact and non-fact. Ideas which are not falsifiable are non-fact, therefore please don't insist your fantasies of supernatural beings are in any way factual.

Doctrine = not to be questioned = not to be proven = not fact. When you declare your doctrine fact, you lie.

PopeyesPappy

Quote from: peacewithoutgod on November 02, 2015, 02:21:58 PM
Starting with the senators as top priority!

All right now, people. Let's not confuse mosquitoes which are a vital part of the food chain in many ecosystems with the blood sucking parasites occupying the halls of congress in DC.
Save a life. Adopt a Greyhound.


peacewithoutgod

Quote from: PopeyesPappy on November 02, 2015, 02:37:09 PM
All right now, people. Let's not confuse mosquitoes which are a vital part of the food chain in many ecosystems with the blood sucking parasites occupying the halls of congress in DC.
My apologies to the mosquitos!
There are two types of ideas: fact and non-fact. Ideas which are not falsifiable are non-fact, therefore please don't insist your fantasies of supernatural beings are in any way factual.

Doctrine = not to be questioned = not to be proven = not fact. When you declare your doctrine fact, you lie.

TomFoolery

Quote from: peacewithoutgod on November 02, 2015, 02:20:54 PM
Therefore, we should not even risk preserving those remaining two vials of smallpox, they should be safely destroyed before some militaristic sociopath tries to weaponize them.

We're essentially in a Mexican standoff there because the U.S. and Russians both don't exactly trust each other. Hell, I'm American and I don't even trust my government to destroy something like smallpox even if it says it will. Also keep in mind those are the only two known repositories.

I think it's easy for us to say that scourges like smallpox and polio need to go, but to me the line starts to blur at distinct, unquestionably alive organisms.

Smallpox was easily eradicated because it only infects people and rarely mutated, and thus no natural reservoir of virus could exist in a population of monkeys or pigs or something like that and it couldn't mutate into something that could easily circumvent vaccines like influenza and HIV can.

Not many people seem to think it's ok for us to wipe out rhinos or tigers but why? They play a role in ecosystems sure, but so do things like tapeworms and tuberculosis. Tapeworms and tuberculosis may kill people, but so have rhinos and tigers.

It's an ethical question I struggle with because I ardently support modern medicine and vaccines and I'm not the sort of asshole that would tell a mother whose child was wasting away from Naegleria fowleri that "all life is precious, even the lives of brain eating amoebas..." I don't think all life is equally precious but that comes from a very human viewpoint. The best I can say is that all life is relevant in its own way.
How can you be sure my refusal to agree with your claim a symptom of my ignorance and not yours?

Hydra009

To me, there is a significant difference between species that essentially prey on humans and species that more or less leave us alone or are only harmful when encroached or provoked.  This might seem like a strange moral stance, but if I had to choose between the welfare of Plasmodium malariae or millions of human beings, I would choose the humans every time.

stromboli

I've got a fly swatter. Somebody invent a senator swatter.

TomFoolery

Quote from: Hydra009 on November 02, 2015, 05:28:18 PM
To me, there is a significant difference between species that essentially prey on humans and species that more or less leave us alone or are only harmful when encroached or provoked.
Everything comes down to predator/prey parasite/host interactions. It's not about being evil, it's just business from a biological standpoint. It just so happens that for many diseases, humans have a place in their life cycle. Moreover, you make that claim in how these species interact with you, a human. If you were to ask a wild pig if tigers should go extinct, I imagine most would say those fuckers need to go.

Quote from: Hydra009 on November 02, 2015, 05:28:18 PMThis might seem like a strange moral stance, but if I had to choose between the welfare of Plasmodium malariae or millions of human beings, I would choose the humans every time.

It's not really about welfare per se, it's more about how we look at and respect life. All life has value. It's just as a human, human life tends to have the most value. Human beings imagine it revolves around them. We can make that claim because largely we have conquered the natural world. But smallpox is the only disease we've successfully eradicated, and tuberculosis, HIV, and so many others remind us that maybe we should be a little more humble.

When you consider all life on a spectrum, we're at the far end of one spectrum and next to us stands things that look, feel, or act sort of like us (chimps, monkeys, whales, dolphins) and then come the rest of the mammals, then maybe warm blooded things, then cold-blooded things, insects maybe, plants are probably in there somewhere and then we come to bacteria and protists. We draw weird lines all over the spectrum for all kinds of reasons.

People will be vegetarians but still squash bugs that wander into their house, or will be a vegetarian and support abortion (I am!), or think that it's ok to eat pigs but not dogs when pigs are more highly intelligent and social creatures. Even now, I find myself questioning why I wouldn't take qualms with taking antibiotics to wipe out a strep infection but feel strange about causing the extinction of all streptococcus bacteria that harms humans.

When you consider what causing the extinction of an entire species of bacteria means, simply because it inconveniences humans, it moves more from self-defense and more to a level of superiority that I think humans have just become famous for.
How can you be sure my refusal to agree with your claim a symptom of my ignorance and not yours?

Mermaid

Do we have the right to build infrastructure that forever changes the micro- and macroenvironment? The right to eat animals? The right to pump carbon into the atmosphere? We do it without thinking whether or not we have the right.

It's all relative. I think we give ourselves the right to do these things, often without any thought if we have the right to do it or not.
A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities â€" all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. -TR

Baruch

#11
Quote from: peacewithoutgod on November 02, 2015, 02:20:54 PM
Who gives us "rights" anyway? We do, when we take them, and since we don't support belief in gods here, then there is no entity which would object. The decision regarding ultra-simple life forms which are nothing but malevolent to other life forms, especially when they are a threat to sentient forms is therefore a no-brainer, unless you can present a case worth hearing on why anybody would miss Smallpox, polio, flesh-eating bacteria which attacks living animal life, or the like. As the most powerful species on this earth, we are its gods, and we decide what our rights are as a species in the phylum Chordata according to our collective self-interests and our conscience. With our position at the pinnacle species comes certain responsibilities, but among them are not "do nothing and let all be". Most evil is done by those which are capable of doing something about evil and instead do nothing. Therefore, we should not even risk preserving those remaining two vials of smallpox, they should be safely destroyed before some militaristic sociopath tries to weaponize them.

If you knew the classified stuff, you would know that you are too late.  Of course these have been weaponized.  The Chinese have a very active germ warfare program ... the US and Russia need to be very very afraid!
Ha’át’íísh baa naniná?
Azee’ Å,a’ish nanídį́į́h?
Táadoo ánít’iní.
What are you doing?
Are you taking any medications?
Don't do that.

Mermaid

Quote from: Baruch on November 02, 2015, 07:21:49 PM
If you knew the classified stuff, you would know that you are too late.  Of course these have been weaponized.
And you know the classified stuff?
A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities â€" all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. -TR

Baruch

Quote from: Mermaid on November 02, 2015, 07:24:29 PM
And you know the classified stuff?

I can put two and two together, from the public record ... and I ain't even an accountant ;-)  The investigations regarding these bio-events have dug up a lot of dirt over the years.  Like house cats are carriers of bird flu ... which gets increasingly close to "natural" epidemic propagation.  Also all the dead farm animals in China.  The Chinese are very big into bird flu.  What takes to stop it is dual use ... one side tells you how to stop it, but the other side tells you how to weaponize it.  And the Nato guys went so far as to dig up a dead Englishman ... to recover intact Spanish flu pandemic samples from 1919.  Worst flu epidemic of all time.  This dead Englishman (Sykes) was responsible for the broken division of the Middle East after WW I.  This was openly discussed on-line for awhile a couple years ago ... and then the researchers were told to STFU.

I follow it in the online press ... and stuff has gotten out ... about "civil" research.  And how do you like your unresolved anthrax attack?  No sane nation won't have these weapons ... they may be doomsday weapons ... and this is probably what happens in private session between heads of state ... "I know that you know that I know" or some such.  Back in the day, in the Cold War, I knew stuff that would make your hair fall out.  Things haven't gotten better, they have gotten worse.  The same people who ran things then, are still running things, maybe even more crazy than before.
Ha’át’íísh baa naniná?
Azee’ Å,a’ish nanídį́į́h?
Táadoo ánít’iní.
What are you doing?
Are you taking any medications?
Don't do that.

Mermaid

A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities â€" all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. -TR