Is Life struggling to survive?

julio
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Is Life struggling to survive?

It appears that many species are being irrevocably lost.
Those will not return.
Is “Life” losing its own game?
Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable?
[Was it ever stable? If it's unstable, why is it so?]
Why do species in this small planet get extinct?
[Too many?]
What is life’s purpose in the end [if there will be an end to Life]?

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julio wrote: Is

julio wrote:
Is “Life” losing its own game?
Ostensibly, no.  I'm uncomfortable with anthropomorphising 'Life'.  'Life' is a product of nature, the game isn't it's own.

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Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable? [Was it ever stable? If it's unstable, why is it so?]
I'm not sure I understand or that 'stability' applies to 'Life'.  Organisms merely exist, in constant battle with the environment to survive long enough to pass on their genes and in an extended battle with the environment to adapt as it changes in order to remain viable.  You'll have to explain what you mean by 'stable' (at least you answer your own implicit premises with questions).

Quote:
Why do species in this small planet get extinct? [Too many?]
Species go extinct for a number of different reasons.  One of which can be that there are too many for a particular niche and the least able to adapt to that may go extinct.  I think your question hides the premise that the planet is or has been too small to support that species that it has.  That doesn't appear to be the case at all.  In the future you should avoid loading your questions with implied assumptions.

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What is life’s purpose in the end [if there will be an end to Life]?
Purpose is an abstract human concept.  Don't anthropomorphise 'Life' or conflate purpose, which is only ascribed to things by humans, as existing as anything other than an abstract human concept.  The purpose of 'Life' can be anything you like, though if pressed, I think you'll find most people will say that it's purpose (by which they'll mean what it does) is to continue to exist.

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julio wrote: It appears that

julio wrote:
It appears that many species are being irrevocably lost. Those will not return. Is “Life” losing its own game?

Life, the process, has no intentions. It doesn't win or lose, it just is. Is all life on Earth going to go extinct? Very unlikely on a scale less than a billion years. However, the vast majority of species today will not have any descendants in a billion years. Probably like 99.99% or more. Life will still exist, it will just be radically different.

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Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable?

Because the environment is always changing, especially because other life is part of the environment. The landscape is always shifting underneath life.

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Was it ever stable?

Life is only stable when it's dead.

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If it's unstable, why is it so?

Evolution.

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Why do species in this small planet get extinct?

Limited resources plus exponential growth equals massive death.

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[Too many?]

For our purposes, yes. Even humans rely on biodiversity and a stable ecosystem.

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What is life’s purpose in the end [if there will be an end to Life]?

Entropy.

----

I think I noticed an equivocation there. You used 'life' to represent two different ideas: 1) The process of life, 2) Ecosystems.

The process of life is inherently unstable in a changing environment. However, organisms and ecosystems can and do evolve mechanisms of stability to maintain survival, especially in a a changing environment.

I think the instability you are lamenting is the instability of ecosystems, namely mass extinctions. While the process of life is unstable on its own, the instability in ecosystems is largely caused by humans these days. In the past it was massive volcanoes and meteors, now it's humans. We are in the middle of one of the greatest mass extinctions ever. The rate which species are going extinct is huge. However, in theory we could change that. Not so with a meteor impact.

So, I guess I see your point. It seems like we're pointlessly destabilizing the collective ecosystems known as the biosphere. I agree. Totally sucks. I don't want to leave behind a legacy of nuclear radiation and bacteria.

So, I guess your questions are more about humans than about the process of life itself. Why are humans not capable of living sustainably in our environment?

Basically, it's because there's nothing to hold us back. This is the inherent instability in the process of life. Exponential growth and limited resources. The limited resources are *never* going to suddenly become exponentially growing. It is physically impossible. Therefore, the only solution is to halt exponential growth.

In most ecosystems this is accomplished through competing organisms causing sickness (parasites) and death (predators, niche competitors). We don't have those, or rather we've lowered their potency to very small levels compared to the past. We are our only predators (war). Considering nukes and whatever other weapons we develop in the near future, that's not a promising prospect. War, famine, and environmental catastrophe are not something to look forward to. But it's inevitable if we don't find another way.

The only ethical solution is to reduce population expansion to below replacement levels until population settles down to acceptable levels. This means fewer babies. Some ethical ways to achieve this: Education, elimination of poverty, birth control. Basically, you have to make it so that it's so expensive to raise a kid, that you only want to have one because you can't afford two. A good way to do this is to put value on quality of life (poverty) and self-improvement (education) so that people don't want to bring children into the world unless they can afford to give them the same quality of life that they have (which requires an expensive education). And then you also have to make it easy to avoid unwanted births. Given those choices, as they are available in much of Europe, Canada, etc. you will end up with low birth rates. US still has high birth rates because of the massive poverty and relatively crappy education among the non-rich. China and India are similar. Often decent educations, but still massive poverty.

So, the answer is actually not about biological life. It's about culture. Our current culture removes the major causes of death while failing to reduce the causes of birth. Hence exponential growth, hence impending disaster.

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julio wrote:Is

julio wrote:
Is “Life” losing its own game?

Winning and losing are human concepts that aren't applicable here. Is life, in general, dying out? I don't know.

julio wrote:
Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable?

Environments change. Populations of organisms must adapt in order to survive. 

julio wrote:
[Was it ever stable?

If it was stable, then it would become extinct.

julio wrote:
Why do species in this small planet get extinct?

In musical chairs, there's more people than there are chairs. Somebody's always not going to get a chair.

julio wrote:
What is life’s purpose in the end [if there will be an end to Life]?

Purpose is a human concept. Life has no purpose. You're anthropomorphizing life. Life perpetuates itself, and life dies.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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The questions have been

The questions have been answered, so all I really have to say is that I think you (Julio) should study evolution a bit. The entire original post is a demonstration of how little you know about evolution and, to a lesser extent, physics. I don't intend any offence with this advice, I just think you'd find answers to your questions by doing so.

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julio wrote:Is

julio wrote:
Is “Life” losing its own game?

What do you mean? If we run out of life on Earth... Scratch that; when we run out of life on Earth chances are there's going to be life elsewhere. So in other words, no? I'm not certain what you're asking.

julio wrote:
Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable?

You've got it all wrong m'boy, it's not life that isn't stable, it's the environment. If the Earth can keep static environments, then life can stay stable.

julio wrote:
Why do species in this small planet get extinct?

Again, environment; perhaps the environment changes for the better of one species but not for another in the same environment, if the first guy eats the other guy they'll both go extinct; it's nature. It's a matter of chance.

julio wrote:
What is life’s purpose in the end?

Well, life has a much of a purpose as the Sun, Earth, the universe, etc. We are not divine or special, life is simply something that happens, just like the Earth, the Sun, and the universe.


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oh well, they've already

oh well, they've already answered it. I had some good responses, but it would just be rehashing what has already been said.

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julio
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Good answers; thanks

Good answers; thanks guys.
Pity life had to evolve through pain.


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Kind of, but life had to

Kind of, but life had to evolve some form of mechanism to motivate self defense and self education, and pain does both. It is unpleasant, but necessary in absence of an alternative. Through natural selection we can assume that it is by far the most successful mechanism to date. Even if an even more successful mechanism can exist, it would seem that it hasn't evolved in species we're aware of.

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julio wrote:Good answers;

julio wrote:
Good answers; thanks guys. Pity life had to evolve through pain.

Oh well, Earth likely isn't the most hospitable planet even though it sounds a bit radical for our perspective as beings on Earth ourselves.


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julio wrote: It appears that

julio wrote:
It appears that many species are being irrevocably lost. Those will not return. Is “Life” losing its own game? Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable? [Was it ever stable? If it's unstable, why is it so?] Why do species in this small planet get extinct? [Too many?] What is life’s purpose in the end [if there will be an end to Life]?

A form of life which was inherently stable, which did not tend to change, would never have evolved in the first place.

To survive in a changing environment, and the Earth's environment has changed many times over geological time - continents  rearranging, massive volcanic eruptions, ice ages, etc - life needs to be able to change, to evolve.

For new forms of life to emerge and occupy new ecological niches, like flying, climbing trees , being smart (like us), etc, it also needs to be able to change. There are some 'life-styles' and habitats which have been stable for a long time, like the tropical oceans, so too much instability may not be helpful, so we find species like sharks which seem to have existed in much the same form for a very long time. So it is capable of becoming more stable, in stable environments. But if all life was stable, there would be no evolution, and there would be no way for life to expand into the many forms we see today. The stable forms are still here, but it is when it becomes unstable that new forms can emerge.

Extinction of less successful lines must happen as part of evolution.

There is no purpose.

However, instability, extinction are a necessary part of evolution, without which we would not be here.

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 Quote:Is

 

Quote:
Is “Life” losing its own game?

In terms of biomass, no.  For every elephant, there are millions of ants.  For every ant, there are millions of bacteria.  Ants and bacteria are doing fine.

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Why is “Life” not capable of remaining stable?

Because of mutations and changes in the environment.  Natural selection and evolution are by definition dynamic processes.  The process of reproduction is inherently subject to copying errors.

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[Was it ever stable? If it's unstable, why is it so?]

No.  It was never stable.

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Why do species in this small planet get extinct?

Some extinctions are caused by large, sudden environmental changes, like the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs.  Some are caused by competition.  One species out-competes another and either takes away all of its habitat or food supply, or alters the environment such that an extinction event occurs.  Humans are very prolific in this kind of extinction event.  We're out-competing species at a rate that's probably never been equaled on earth.

Extinction can also occur from gradual environmental change.  The polar bear will probably go extinct as the climate warms and the ice floes disappear.

It's not as common, but disease can also cause extinction.  (Think about it from a pathogen's point of view -- you don't want your host to go extinct.  Pathogens that kill all of their potential hosts also go extinct!)

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[Too many?]

Too many for what?  I think you're probably thinking in very human-centric terms.  We're sad when whales die, or when there are no more bengal tigers in the zoos.  These are species that are important enough for us to care about.  If humans manage to kill all the big animals on earth, the earth would still be teeming with life.  

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What is life’s purpose in the end [if there will be an end to Life]?

Search me, fella.

Without knowing what you mean by purpose, it's an impossible question to answer.

 

 

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julio
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"Even if an even more

Quoting Vastet:

"Even if an even more successful mechanism can exist, it would seem that it hasn't evolved in species we're aware of."

This made me think.
Is it possible that a better mechanism exists somewhere in the cosmos, I wonder?
Possibly, yes.
If so, then we're stuck with an inferior product.
Will it eventually wither away, do you think?
Will evolution eventually give up its nonsensical attempts?
I think so - long-term.

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Well...the process of

Well...the process of evolution itself is evolving.

For almost 3 billion years life didn't do much of anything.  Then in the last 700 million years we've had a remarkable explosion of evolutionary activity on this planet.

Some people suggest that culture (of course humanity being the most advance example of this) is the modern day equivalent of the Cambrian Explosion.

I think that's pretty egotistical.  But that wouldn't make it untrue necessarily.  So who knows?

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Don't personify

julio wrote:

Quoting Vastet:

"Even if an even more successful mechanism can exist, it would seem that it hasn't evolved in species we're aware of." This made me think. Is it possible that a better mechanism exists somewhere in the cosmos, I wonder? Possibly, yes. If so, then we're stuck with an inferior product. Will it eventually wither away, do you think? Will evolution eventually give up its nonsensical attempts? I think so - long-term.

Our mechanism of evolution is pretty damn successful, you gotta admit. As far as the pain and suffering go, you are obviously only thinking of animals.

Pain is there to warn us of injury or potential injury so that we learn to avoid it. A possible way to avoid it would be to have a mechanism to warn us without it being traumatic. However in a live or die situation that may not be urgent enough to provoke a fast enough response. Given the numerous examples of parallel evolution that we have, I think that even on another planet if conditions are similar then mechanisms will be similar.

Plants have no nervous system and as far as we know they do not suffer. But then again they do not move much or fast, so it may have not been necessary for them to develop such a system. Some microbes do respond fast, but whether they suffer is unknown at the moment.

There is no such thing as an inferior product. It is just a natural process.

Evolution cannot be nonsensical or give up anything, you are personifying it. Gravity cannot change its mind either.

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Vastet
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It is unlikely that an

It is unlikely that an alternative to pain would be anymore pleasant than pain is. The very reason pain is such a successful mechanism is due to its unpleasant nature. You look at someone who can't feel pain (and there are some), and you see a person who gets both major and minor injuries all the time, often without realising it. By the time they reach 20 (if they do), they've usually lost a limb or three, broken bones multiple times, and are covered in scars. On the bright side, it didn't hurt. But then, there's still not much left of them.

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