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  1. Ah, I see. Thank you. That’s a very interesting conundrum. Does the end justify the means, even when the end is quite noble? Does that distill the argument properly? I suppose that it could be argued that most environmentalists don’t argue that a cure for cancer will be found, merely that it could be found, but we’ll never know if all the rain forests are replaced with housing developments. I often find myself on the fence about some of these issues. Yes, we need to be conservative with the environment, but at what point did man cease to be part of Nature?

    And no, your post on honesty didn’t scare me away, I just couldn’t think of anything cogent to add. :-)

    1. Hi there! Nice to see you again — I thought my excessively long and rambling Firestarter on honesty had scared you off! I really want to re-visit that one with an editor’s eye… ;)

      Anyway. I wrote the paper in the late 1990’s, so to the best of my memory the initial argument re biodiversity vs. bioengineering ran something like this:

      • Start with the perfectly valid premise that maintaining biodiversity is a worthy goal and a good idea.
      • Next note we are losing biodiversity rapidly, due to situations such as corporations bulldozing places like the Amazon basin for various financial reasons. To maintain biodiversity and stop the destruction, we need to convince people the destruction of biodiversity is a bad idea. How do we do this?
      • We know some very interesting and provocative medical and chemical discoveries have been made from recently discovered plants in the Amazon basin.
      • Therefore, if we claim bioengineering from these discoveries will, say, cure cancer — even though we do not know for sure this is true — the corporations will be forced to stop destroying the area.

      The author of the article I mention is pointing out that even if environmentalists accomplish a worthwhile goal in the short-term by lying (i.e. stopping the destruction of biodiversity) — in the long-term, when cancer is not miraculously cured by the existence of biodiversity… the cause of environmentalism in general, and biodiversity in particular, will have lost credibility, i.e. “Why should we listen to them at all? If they lied to us about curing cancer, are they lying about the importance of biodiversity as well?”

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