moral blind spots

Montero

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Big kudos to you regarding your statement on considering eating meat.

I think that a lot of the things done on a national or global scale are a big part of the problem, whatever it is being done. There was the whole thing about bio fuels - great initially when people were running diesels on waste chip oil. Then it took off and there was the human race cutting down chunks of rain forest to grow crops for biofuels which were then transported across the globe using petroleum products. Go figure.
Sadly, this could also happen with vegetarianism - a lot of pulses, grain, fruit and veg are already imported - and growing them in parts of the UK as we've already agreed is not always possible. So doing the whole equation - including the greenhouse gases produced importing veg vs the greenhouse gases produced from local livestock - vegetarianism might not help with global warming as much as it appears at first sight.
Returning to mainly eating seasonal food would help - no more out of season soft fruit for example.
Not importing across the globe by aircraft - fruit and veg is now largely flown in, it used to come in bulk on ships which I think - haven't checked but it seems logical - would have lower fuel costs per ton of food.
You could also bring the calorie value of the transported food into the discussion - which would tend to favour meat and cheese......:) (Cheese is a great way of storing milk - particularly on the continent, there used to be and still is in some countries the way of life of taking your dairy herd up into the high pastures for the summer, making cheese all summer and you come back with a pile of cheese for the winter.)
In terms of transport, there is now the whole "thing" of stuff being made at a great distance because the labour is cheaper. The bottom line is ruling the roost - that may well be what future generations consider to be totally immoral - how so much was subordinated to the bottom line. Including such daftnesses as importing plastic kids toys from China.

Further thought - biodiversity in the UK - avoiding ripping out hedgerows and having massive fields with a monoculture, whether it is "weed free" grass, grain, oil seed rape or cabbages...
 
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Stephen Palmer

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The fundamental change behind all we are talking about is the one that "Greens" have been banging on about since the '70s. The scale of society is so huge all sense of locality has been lost. But we don't need to "return to mud huts," as Thatcher infamously said, we need to reduce the scale of society then interlink everything. At the moment, globalism is destroying everything in its path.
My main motives 30 years ago for going vegetarian - once I'd got into it by accident, sharing a house with other veggies - were the animal cruelty and the economic vandalism.
 
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So doing the whole equation - including the greenhouse gases produced importing veg vs the greenhouse gases produced from local livestock - vegetarianism might not help with global warming as much as it appears at first sight.
Why would imported veggies produce more greenhouse gases than imported meat grown on the same foreign soil? Not getting the connection.


There are places on earth where it is nearly impossible to grow vegetables, but cows can eat the local scrub. But most of those places also have nearly no people. If we're talking about places people do live in large numbers, the land tends to be fairly arable for the production of human veggies.
 

Mirannan

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Why would imported veggies produce more greenhouse gases than imported meat grown on the same foreign soil? Not getting the connection.


There are places on earth where it is nearly impossible to grow vegetables, but cows can eat the local scrub. But most of those places also have nearly no people. If we're talking about places people do live in large numbers, the land tends to be fairly arable for the production of human veggies.
As I said earlier, there are even more areas where nothing edible by humans will grow but sheep can graze just fine. The same probably applies to goats, but I'm less certain.

I have in mind a compromise. Most of those who eat meat eat far too much of it for their health if nothing else; and our favourite meat animal, cattle, is probably the hardest to get tasty meat out of economically and without wasting land and resources.

There is also the issue that humans are not naturally exclusively herbivorous. Our gut isn't long or complicated enough for that, for a start, and some nutrients are difficult to impossible to get enough of in an exclusively vegetable diet. Vitamin B12 is only the most obvious.

Most people don't react too well to hectoring and claims that they are evil, as directed by vegans towards omnivores. A campaign to encourage smaller amounts of meat in a sitting and eating beef very rarely if at all might work better, if pitched properly - maybe emphasising such a diet's health benefits.

Of course, this might not work because fanatics are rarely interested in compromise. BTW, why aren't the anti-meat campaigners doing anything about halal?
 
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As I said earlier, there are even more areas where nothing edible by humans will grow but sheep can graze just fine. The same probably applies to goats, but I'm less certain.

I have in mind a compromise. Most of those who eat meat eat far too much of it for their health if nothing else; and our favourite meat animal, cattle, is probably the hardest to get tasty meat out of economically and without wasting land and resources.

There is also the issue that humans are not naturally exclusively herbivorous. Our gut isn't long or complicated enough for that, for a start, and some nutrients are difficult to impossible to get enough of in an exclusively vegetable diet. Vitamin B12 is only the most obvious.

Most people don't react too well to hectoring and claims that they are evil, as directed by vegans towards omnivores. A campaign to encourage smaller amounts of meat in a sitting and eating beef very rarely if at all might work better, if pitched properly - maybe emphasising such a diet's health benefits.

Of course, this might not work because fanatics are rarely interested in compromise. BTW, why aren't the anti-meat campaigners doing anything about halal?
I'm not a vegetarian, and animals like chickens and aquaculture fish can be raised in the same land that is growing people food.

Cattle out grazing in the wastelands is fine, but you already objected to transporting food long distances, and the majority of people don't live in wastelands.


The problem isn't that we eat the wrong foods, but that we eat them in the wrong proportions. Mammal meat should be a special meal - not something eaten daily. But Westerners now eat pork for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch and lamb chops for dinner while thinking nothing of it. To support that intake you have to convert a lot of rainforest to pasture and grow a lot of grain to get the awful taste of creosote out of cows raised in Montana. Cheese and milk are nice, but are more non-essential foods that most populations have a hard time digesting.
 

Montero

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Why would imported veggies produce more greenhouse gases than imported meat grown on the same foreign soil? Not getting the connection.
The transport. The further something is transported before you eat it, assuming fossil fuels are used to power the transport, then the more greenhouse gases are associated with that food. Even if you bring it in by sailing ship and bicycle, there will be energy consumed in the building of the transport and it maintenance.
 
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The transport. The further something is transported before you eat it, assuming fossil fuels are used to power the transport, then the more greenhouse gases are associated with that food. Even if you bring it in by sailing ship and bicycle, there will be energy consumed in the building of the transport and it maintenance.
Okay, I'll say this again:

If you want to use wasteland to grow cattle, you have to transport the cattle to where the people are. People mainly congregate where high quality vegetation grows. So how are cows - that spew methane AND require fossil fuel transport to market better than vegetables that require either one or none of those two things?
 

SilentRoamer

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I think this thread got lost.

:confused:
Not too lost to find it's way back.

In David Zindells Neverness it is considered morally wrong (I think it is also illegal) to alter your own or to take someone else DNA. It even has an associated slur - Slel-necking for DNA thiefs and slelling for those that alter their own DNA. In Neverness physical attributes can be changed by body sculptors, who work on your existing bones but actual changes to DNA are not allowed - maybe in the future some genetic issues or some new ethical stance will emerge where we find DNA alteration ethically or morally wrong. In Neverness I think it relates to a disaster at some point and is something prohibited as damaging for future generations.

Along these same lines future humans who evolve seperately may become naturally incompatible. For example if some humans develop in a gravity well and some develop in Zero-G then these humans may end up being reproductively incompatbile - it may be considered morally / ethically wrong to try as it may cause similar defects than what we see in incest.

So genetic fidelity and ownership may begin to have moral implications - in a world where clones became commonplace would you own your own DNA?

Just some chud for the cows to chew on.
 

Montero

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@Onyx - over a number of posts, mine and others, the discussion has ranged across a number of topics relating to ethical farming, to upland areas being better for grazing sheep than for vegs and also discussion on vegetarianism. So drawing this together, the point I was making, perhaps not clearly enough, was that for everyone in the UK to go veggie, a lot of veg would have to be imported. I was then noting, that if you compare the fossil fuel consumption of imported veg vs locally raised animals there was less of an advantage than might initially appear for the vegetarian option. I would add to that, especially for hill raised grass fed sheep.

In terms of ethics, I think getting the detail right is crucial - with all the impacts considered. In areas of the UK where farming has gone to large scale arable vast lengths of hedges were torn up, removing habitat for birds.

@SilentRoamer - not owning your own DNA - that sounds creepy. It jogged my memory - there has already been problems in that direction with companies collecting samples. I think it was Iceland - have found an article about problems with this in Iceland. The world's most precious genes?
 
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@Onyx - over a number of posts, mine and others, the discussion has ranged across a number of topics relating to ethical farming, to upland areas being better for grazing sheep than for vegs and on vegetarianism. So drawing this together, the point I was making, perhaps not clearly enough, was that for everyone in the UK to go veggie, a lot of veg would have to be imported. I was then noting, that if you compare the fossil fuel consumption of imported veg vs locally raised animals there was less of an advantage than might initially appear for the vegetarian option. I would add to that, especially for hill raised grass fed sheep.
This may or may not be true of the UK - it rather depends how much land there is that can support sheep but not barley, and what the expense of transporting grain into the UK would be - considering it is an island. What I was getting at was that most wastelands are not right next door to population centers, so the meat would have to travel. But the UK certainly could have just the right mix of transportation problems and geographic features for it to not be self sufficient for veg in the way Europe would be. It is a somewhat special case.
 

Brian G Turner

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I'll only bring the discussion back on topic this one last time - this thread is about things the future might condemn us for, rather than a discussion of existing ethical debates.
 

Mirannan

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I'll only bring the discussion back on topic this one last time - this thread is about things the future might condemn us for, rather than a discussion of existing ethical debates.
Noted. I would like to throw one in here, and it might be quite important. Humans are not exactly noted for good treatment of others thought to be "other"; the treatment of various anthropoid apes, whales, dolphins, and elephants (all of which might be sapient) shows that - even more so the treatment of human races thought to be inferior.

Before very long, we will have a completely new class of beings to maltreat, these much more different - not even biological. And they will, eventually, be sapient.

The future may well curse us for our treatment of robots.
 
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Noted. I would like to throw one in here, and it might be quite important. Humans are not exactly noted for good treatment of others thought to be "other"; the treatment of various anthropoid apes, whales, dolphins, and elephants (all of which might be sapient) shows that - even more so the treatment of human races thought to be inferior.

Before very long, we will have a completely new class of beings to maltreat, these much more different - not even biological. And they will, eventually, be sapient.

The future may well curse us for our treatment of robots.
Humans have graduated from human sacrifice and cannibalism to the protection of endangered species, reversing the extinction trend of several species. So the trend is pretty positive, even if the overall results suck.
 

Justin Swanton

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One thing which really stands out about the last 100 years - the mass slaughter of people. At virtually no time before 1914 have human beings been killed in such numbers: World War I, World War II, the Ukrainian peasants, the Kulaks, the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, the Cultural Revolution, the Rwandan massacres, the Afghan War, and so on and so on. Even in the first Iraq war (which nobody thinks was especially bloodthirsty) the US bombing killed about 100 000 Iraqi soldiers which in terms of Antiquity is a huge death toll (Rome's worst defeat ever was at Cannae with 70 000 Roman infantry massacred).

And we have no assurance this kind of bloodletting is over. The First World nations (and a few Third World ones) still maintain and upgrade weaponry that could kill tens of millions of people in a few minutes. Think we're never going to use them?

I suspect the future will see us as a peculiar lot who were able to combine the championship of the precious rights of the individual with the maintenance of a method of warfare that would blow away those individuals by the million.
 
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War is one thing, but the number of citizens killed by their own governments really set records in the 20th century.
 

Justin Swanton

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War is one thing, but the number of citizens killed by their own governments really set records in the 20th century.
Governments killing their own people is covered by the Ukrainian peasants, Kulaks, Holocaust, Khmer Rouge, and Cultural Revolution. I forgot to mention the Gulag (sorry).

If you count as 'citizens' those who had not exited their mothers' wombs in a natural fashion but were forcibly removed by the Chinese government then the numbers reach a whole new level: 336 million. But let's not go there...
 
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Robert Zwilling

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I would think the way we routinely treat non human life forms as life without rights is something most people wouldn't care about. Ignoring the importance in our lives of non human life forms for maintaining a healthy environment is probably something future generations might wonder about. The importance will naturally become evident when the cost exceeds more than we wish to pay. I also have a feeling that the personal weapons industry will become digitalized and will result in weapons that will be able to keep ahead of laws banning them the same way drugs have done. Future generations might wonder why it took us so long to supply everyone with rubber bullets. Its not what is used to do things, it is how the things are done. If the palm oil trip is a classic example of the road to hell paved with good intentions, future generations might wonder why it took us so long to take a different road.
 

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