Capitol Hill Blue
Okay, I have to say: I went down a rabbit hole this morning truly worthy of an 18-year-old in Philosophy 101. How? I read a few comments attached to an interview I didn’t even watch. (Welcome to the world of ADD.)

The interview question was “Which is worse for the environment - species A or Species B?” Frankly, I think that’s a boring question, so I want to step back one.

Can a species, animal/vegetable/critter, even BE considered destructive in its usual habitat? Is there a critter whose normal behavior is considered harmful in its normal environment?

I’d like to exclude, for the moment, humans, farmed animals, and invasive species. Although there’s a secondary wormhole that we can look into later if you’re bored.

I’m not even sure what would qualify as harmful or destructive behavior in an unmolested environment, so there’s some freedom there as well.

I would have made such a good stoner…
Originally Posted by Mellowicious
Can a species, animal/vegetable/critter, even BE considered destructive in its usual habitat?

In nature, there are bugs that thrive in their natural habitant, but are destructive to other environs when they become newly introduced. Hmm I'm not sure how they can be nondestructive in their native habit, other than other bugs keep them in check, and destructive in others - or maybe I just answered my own statement. smile
But - are there critters who are destructive in their own, native environs? Not invasive species?
Everything is part of God's plan! (Or Nature, if you are not religious.)

Mosquitos that carry loads of parasites and viruses? A major food source in places where they thrive. Not for us directly, but we do eat things that eat mosquitos.

Tsetse flies? They have protected a lot of the wild animals in central Africa by making their areas uninhabitable by humans!

A lot of our feelings about animal A being preferable to animal B, are pretty subjective. One is cute and furry. One has lethal venom. But rabbits are cute and furry, and introducing them to Australia was a disaster. Fighting extinction is silly. Extinction is a natural event, like forest fires. Put them all out, and you just make the situation much worse. Maybe a reasonable objective value is diversity: A lot of different species is better than monoculture, at least in terms of stability. But specific animal populations? They usually fluctuate in a predator/prey cycle. Evolution is amazingly talented in this aspect. Cicadas have 13 and 17 year cycles because their predators have cycles with shorter periodicity. Their prime number cycles do not line up with their predator's cycles, so they have longer term survival. Some researchers modeled what would happen if they didn't follow those cycles, and all simulations ended in extinction.

One of my favorite examples is the Gnatcatcher: On the endangered list in the US, and all sorts of legal decisions have been made to "protect this endangered species". Except they are genetically identical to the Mexican Gnatcatcher, and interbreed freely across the border. They are NOT endangered in the US at all. Some years their range moves North to include parts of California. Some years it doesn't. It's really a climate thing, like El Nino. They can't read the Welcome to The USA signs!
Yep, those are good example, but not quite what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a critter whose actions are actually destructive to its environment (meaning, I suppose, that at some time they’d have to move on…)

Haven’t been able to come up with one.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517172302.htm

kudzu
Originally Posted by Mellowicious
But - are there critters who are destructive in their own, native environs? Not invasive species?
Yup... Hoomans
Y’all a part of that “don’t need instructions” bunch, hmmm?

Humans were specifically excluded because they’re the eas6 answer. But does any othe4 critter have that same pattern that we do?

The Philosophy 101 part is, of course, whether humans, in destroying their own environment, are simply following their own genetic coding, doing essentially what our species is intended to do?

So I thought would be easier if we could find another destructive (value-loaded word, that one) type of critter.

But then you’re clearly not smoking what my next-door neighbor is smoking.
I never hear whistling any more; certainly not since I moved to this (small) city. I heard it a lot more as a kid (mostly boys and men, although occasionally a grown woman would surprise you.)

So, yes, lots of people whistled “back then” - possibly out of boredom - but once a while a real Whistler would make an appearance. In my mind it would be the primordial Uncle - and with no fanfare he would let a few complex bird whistles, or the melody from an old pop tune.

1968 was a lot different in small-town Nebraska than it was in, say, D.C, or Chicago.
Originally Posted by Mellowicious
Y’all a part of that “don’t need instructions” bunch…
Oh, I need instructions, but compliance is quite another issue.

Other critters have their ebb and flow, ecological balance being an averaging thing, not a for sure steady state. I can’t think of an example of extirpative results from the behavior of nonhuman organisms that weren’t triggered by the epitome of God’s creation, though.
I couldn’t either; I had kinda pinned my hopes on you…
Even humans could have remained non-destructive if they had remained in their original habitat.

If they had remained tribal nomads occupying the equatorial temperate zones.

Gaia provides enough for all to have everything they need.

Any species can become destructive if some natural or unnatural occurrence upsets the balance...primarily its food source. It's the old dinosaur and meteor story. But over time nature will always find balance. When a species becomes destructive it will eventually destroy itself.
Disease, starvation, decline, and eventual extinction.

The most destructive trait any species can have is the tendency to overbreed. That seems to be what they mean when any species becomes "destructive".

In answer to your query, Jules, the Lionfish
Originally Posted by Greger
When a species becomes destructive it will eventually destroy itself.
Disease, starvation, decline, and eventual extinction

That sounds right, but I’m not finding examples. (Invasive species don’t destroy their own environment, or habitat - they destroy someone else’s.) So - what species are we aware of that has become so destructive of its own environment that it is destroying itself, or already has?

Nice try on the lion fish and I’m aware of the problems there but, again, it’s invasive. It might not be nearly so bad when it’s at home. (Actually, by your definition, humans are invasive species too.)

Here’s what’s hanging me up. It seems to me that evolution hasn’t made a whole lot of one-offs. Some, yes, but not a lot.

So I find it difficult to believe that human beings are the only species on earth that can be so destructive of their own habitat; there ought to be some knowledge somewhere of another species, most likely extinct, who followed this path. If humans are the only ones -ever - to do so, are we even seeing the whole story?

It seems to me one more way we try to set humans above (or below) others, as we used to think we were the only species with language (false) or the only tool-users (also false.) I’m just ruminating.

Me, I agree with George Carlin, when he said “Don’t worry about the planet; the planet will be fine. We’re fu**ed, but the planet will be fine.”

Sorry. My neighbors must have the day off; still getting a lot of second-hand smoke grin
Originally Posted by Greger
When a species becomes destructive it will eventually destroy itself.
Disease, starvation, decline, and eventual extinction.

Those effects are localized, however, and not global. Not sure that extinction is a common result - but dramatic population decline for a period of time until balance is restored is.
My smoke ain't second-hand.

Lionfish are funny. They don't mean to invade anybody's territory. They are in their natural habitat doing what they naturally do. They aren't so much invasive as they were spread naturally by the movements of another species. Much as a cocklebur might stick to a bird and travel 1000 miles.

Unless it all falls back on that one species we know to be destructive and invasive, but which is also off limits.

Birds and frogs are destructive to insects, insects destructive to crops, crops destructive to natural vegetation. In the end it all balances out.

Are coyotes destructive? Rodents and squirrels? Termites? Fungi?

Seems like we only label something destructive when it starts tearing up our sh*t
Actually there are all sorts of bacteria that will reproduce until they poison themselves into extinction, but those are generally in monocultures like petri dishes. Once you get up to more complex animals, evolution has supplied them with mechanisms to limit their population density. Those that did not have those traits became extinct. That's how evolution works.
Gregor, oddity here - I looked up lion fish in several places, and they all referred to them as invasive, originating in the Indo-Pacific. Do you know how they got to Florida (I don’t), why do you consider them non-invasive?
Fish tanks in cruise ship fern bars?
OK, well I was checking up on an evolution question I came upon the following information that’s sort of helps me get where I was going, or at least define my target.

lThere are five major causes of extinction: habitat loss, and introduced species, pollution, population growth, and over consumption.”

Yes, but every article I’ve come across is human-centric - that it is our overconsumption, pollution, population growth, and habitat that cause extinction in other species.

We are only one of millions of species. How can it be that we are the only one so destructive, both of ourselves and others? It’s like winning a backwards lottery.
Originally Posted by Mellowicious
OK, well I was checking up on an evolution question I came upon the following information that’s sort of helps me get where I was going, or at least define my target.

lThere are five major causes of extinction: habitat loss, and introduced species, pollution, population growth, and over consumption.”
Humans may be the only species that has the means and the desire to thwart evolution - at least for a time. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of our strategies only defer the beneficial evolutionary culling for the improvement of our kind that would otherwise result in greater intelligence, enhanced co-existence, elevated understanding (acceptance?) of our place in the world. With a nod back to the "batshiit crazy" topic, and the apparent teetering on the edge of environmental and societal collapse that we are witnessing (with not much in the way of a rational plan to correct), I'd say that the Law of Cumulative Effects is about to shift our paradigm (tongue in cheek).

It's like being trapped in the back seat of a car being driven cross country by Hunter S. Thompson!

The ethic of preserving human life at any costs appears to be rooted in Christianity. It is contrary to evolution and our survival as a species. But as a fiercely independent and selfish creature who refuses to depend upon anyone else, or let them depend on me, it ain't my problem!

Yet another example of batsh!t craziness?
Covid is an interesting development that appears to be working with the principles of evolution in better coordination than most human culling influences, like war, natural disasters, and some historical plagues that didn't mico-target certain species weaknesses. By that I mean Covid is asymmetrically impacting batsh!t crazy anti-vaxxers and the like.

Good on it! Now, if the religious 'preserve life at all costs' ethic could be neutered, we'd really have us a tool to cull the herd!
Quote
Do you know how they got to Florida (I don’t), why do you consider them non-invasive?

I consider them introduced. They didn't invade from another continent.

Like black people, they were brought here. Forced here against their will.

But it was a perfectly natural event carried out by a natural occurrence. Like a seed blown by the wind. For them to exist in their new environs they must "destroy" something. As long as they don't overbreed they meld in and coexist.

US says ivory-billed woodpecker, 22 other species extinct


The factors behind the disappearances vary — too much development, water pollution, logging, competition from invasive species, birds killed for feathers and animals captured by private collectors. In each case, humans were the ultimate cause.
Link
So what I take away from this thread is this: Humans are the only species on earth known to have destruction as their primary goal/instinct. Destruction of self and other, with “other” not limited to other living species.

This is the characteristic that sets us apart from all other species - not intelligence or brain size, not language, not tool use, not the favor of the gods.

Thus ends Philosophy 101.

Philosophy 201 can be taken, alternatively, as BIO110 or ENG 150 (directed study)

What is this drive to destruction? Is it truly instinct? When did it arise, and for what reason? (I don’t think it’s an instinct.)
Agriculture is the obvious culprit: As soon as we quit hunting and gathering, we started to screw things up. (<---- not as sarcastic as you think)
How so?
Originally Posted by logtroll
The ethic of preserving human life at any costs appears to be rooted in Christianity. It is contrary to evolution and our survival as a species. But as a fiercely independent and selfish creature who refuses to depend upon anyone else, or let them depend on me, it ain't my problem!

Yet another example of batsh!t craziness?

Rooted in Christianity? Not in the Aztecs, or the ancient Greeks or Romans? Or the ancient Chinese, whose wall, if built today, would be decried as disruptive to wildlife?


I’m not saying any of these civilizations, or others, were destructive, but Christianity came along fairly large in the historical game, and I’m wondering why you say destructiveness started then and not earlier.
Log, I’m sorry; I realized I just asked you to prove a negative regarding preserving human life at any cost.

On the other hand - if we consider war, the mass killing of members of our own species - as a destructive trait of humans (and I think we have to,) then that predates Christianity by a long ways.

Other species do have murder but I’m not sure they have anything like tribal destruction.
Originally Posted by Mellowicious
Log, I’m sorry; I realized I just asked you to prove a negative regarding preserving human life at any cost.
I think we might be cross-threaded... I read an article that said the 'preservation of human life at all costs' ethic was traceable to Catholicism.

My point was that perhaps the biggest factor in human degradation of the planet is the disinclination to control our population numbers, and the technical ability increase both survival rates and term of life. The environmental pressure of how many people are on the planet is multiplied by acceleration of population increase (survival rate) and how long each one is persisting.
[Linked Image from imgs.xkcd.com]
I know it's sarcasm, but it's not very good sarcasm because viruses are not alive. Though they do have a taxonomy, just because it's easier to see the relationships between them if they have hierarchical naming.

Speaking of relationships, virologists are pretty sure measles spilled over into humans about 15,000 years ago from the cow virus rinderpest. Would any living species miss any virus if it went extinct? It turns out yes! Beyond being harmless, there are some that are actually symbionts. Look up "beneficial viruses" if you want to spend a while down that rabbit hole.
Ok, but…but,…that may not be a solely human trait. Given that I may be looking at too short a time, but when the usual predators are gone, deer will overpopulate until they develop diseases and start to die off…at least that’s what hunters use as an excuse back here. (Mountain lions are showing up here again, which might help.) And don’t some rodents overpopulate as well?

Okay, I’ll go look it up.And no, I wouldn’t accept that hunter excuse on face value either.

***
Okay, most of what I’m finding is human related. In
the case of the kangaroo, humans have acted both
the animals’ detriment and to…what’s the opposite of
detriment? Fewer predators, but mor3 water.
How can just a pair of humans overpopulate the planet?

(Because there are two fukkin’ many people)

Why India can't live without coal
Pop Quiz

Would you compare humanity and its relationship to the Earth as:

1) a pestilence
2) an infection
3) a cancer
4) something good

(That India article really got me going...)
Little known fact: India invented steel production around 700 BC! By about 300 BC, Damascus Steel was highly prized all over Europe, but it was actually from India.
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