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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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I saw some episodes of Lie to Me. They tried to be House-like, but it got old really fast: "did you see that micro-expression?" "Why, yes, I did! He must be lying!" Repeat and rinse.

The reason I like to watch House is cause it makes me laugh, and the dialogue is witty, not because it's based on "science". It's the same problem other "sciencey" shows like the CSI ones have. They're absolutely silly and ridiculous science-wise.

re: lie detection

"Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect And whistle a happy tune So no one will suspect I'm Afraid. While shivering in my shoes I strike a careless pose And whistle a happy tune And no one ever knows I'm afraid. The result of this deception Is very strange to tell For when I fool the people I fear I fool myself as well! I whistle a happy tune And ev'ry single time The happiness in the tune Convinces me that I'm not afraid. Make believe you're brave And the trick will take you far. You may be as brave As you make believe you are." (from "King and I")

I expect the most problematic lies to detect are those we tell ourselves.

re: 7 Billion humans

Trust in technology depends on ignoring the retro superstitions that actually guide policy. I refer to things like "Personhood begins at conception", on the ballot in some states and supported by the GOP Presidential candidates - a conceit which will render illegal many forms of birth control.

I'd sure like some of the Pollyanna dust that Prof Anthony Trewavas appears to be snorting, because I could use a few uninterrupted hours of Rosy Outlook. There's one technology he failed to mention: birth control. The Green Revolution was great, but without a companion campaign to limit family size and promote family planning, it merely delayed the inevitable. We're right back where we were in the '60s -- too many people, too little crop land.

Imagine if all of the paeans to GMOs were accompanied by the promotion of birth control. You think it might start to sink in? Imagine if instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Golden Rice, which has yet to fill a single bowl, Syngenta instead spent that money on birth control and family planning education. I honestly don't understand the aversion to that idea. It's as if someone is complaining of a headache whilst banging himself on the head and no one has the temerity to suggest that he stop hitting himself.

Also, don't papers employ copy editors anymore?

False dichotomy. Just because Syngenta spent money on Golden Rice doesn't mean someone else can't spend money on promotion of birth control. Why pick on Syngenta? Companies and governments have spent hundreds of billions fighting carbon, going to space, looking for cures etc...all of which may be worthwhile ventures, but to say we can't educate people on birth control and family planning because we went to the moon would be silly.

Seven billion humans: technology has saved us before, and can do so again

Yeah, one could list a whole lot of times that the stresses of overpopulation have caused enormous amounts of human suffering and technology has failed to meet the challenge.

I mean really human history is a pendulum swinging between relative prosperity and population boom and horrible disease war and suffering.

Its just this time we are swinging faster and further than ever before.

Problem is that we need technology and social change and both are hard.

No doubt about it social change is just as, or perhaps more important, than new technologies to save our asses. We do need both though. New technologies can help us use our resources more efficiently which I think is a good thing.

Yeah, but the sales pitch here seems like a pretty narrow vision of the problem.

As the history of hunger would show us economics, education, birth control, waste disposal, and water if ignored would make increased food production a waste of time. The pitch of GM and yield increasing technology as some sort of solution seems like what at best would amount to a punt.

Efficiency. Yes indeed. Like growing your own soil amendments (cover cropping with legume nitrogen fixers and biomass, saving your own seed, inter planting and hedgerow cropping to eliminate poison pesticide and herbicide use. No trucking in ammonia phosphates, or pesticide, keeping the same soil healthy and productive year after year. Raising livestock in humane healthy conditions so you're brood cows keep dropping calves for over 10 years instead of having to replace them after only 3 or 4 calves. Raising chickens under normal light conditions instead of 24 hour lighting so they keep laying for years instead of one season.

Sounds like Modern, Efficient Organic Farming to me!

However, the current attacks on Women's reproductive rights is the single biggest issue with respect to population. Look at Brazil. They have reduced their population growth dramatically, simply by empowering their women by providing access to birth control. While we, the Great USA, is hellbent on turning back the clock to the 19th century.

Anthony Trewavas's "technology will save us" article comes from a dismayingly narrow perspective. When "technology saved us before", it merely postponed (and therefore amplified) the day of reckoning. Had the green revolution been viewed as having provided time to move to a sustainable and equitable economy, including sustainable agriculture, then the promising things Trewavas talks about might help us finish such a transition. The environmental damage that now will unavoidably accrue from the unsustainable path we've taken since Borlaug's great contribution may more than offset the efficiencies Trewavas (or Betty Jo) speak of.


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