Earth's wilderness decimated

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Thank you for using the word correctly!


@xeni and I had this discussion a few weeks ago and I was gleeful to have the opportunity.


Yes but…

“Decimation” in the original Latin had nothing to do with destruction: it originally meant “to tithe: to give (remove) one tenth of.” Then later it came to mean “to kill (remove) every tenth man*.” Both of these senses were originally in use in English by 1600 or thereabouts, but over time it came to mean almost exclusively “to destroy or remove the larger part of,” and this didn’t take long: it had expanded to that meaning by the 1660s. Like it or not, that’s the most usual – in fact, almost invariable — meaning of the word today, so to say Weisberger used it “correctly” is untrue if you go back to the word’s origins or if you use the commonest meaning. He certainly used it in one historically correct sense, and I applaud that: but it isn’t the one true meaning.

  • And it was worse than you think: the cohort of usually 480 men was divided into groups of ten, each drew lots, and the loser in each group was killed by the other nine, generally by being beaten to death.

team building!


I’m surprised by how different a picture this paints than what Jesse Ausubel presented at a Seminar About Long-term Thinking, a few months ago. His presentation was surprising then, inasmuch as it seemed to me, at the time, to be ‘common sense’ that we’re destroying ever more of the world’s forest, daily, and burning through all our natural resources at an untenable rate. He argued that human productivity had, through tech developments, decoupled from resource use; that we’re producing exponentially more crops on far less acreage, using far less water, fertilizer and pesticides, per unit of crop, than ever before; that much of the world has already reached ‘peak timber’, as our demand for paper and wooden building materials diminishes, and we may be at ‘peak car’ around now–and that, generally, we would likely be continuing in a direction of less resource exploitation per capita, in the near future.

Anyway, reverting to my earlier ‘common sense’, it seems completely believable that the Amazon is regularly losing more forest than North America and Europe could possibly be returning to forest… I haven’t read thru the CSM story yet, so I’m not sure where else their conclusions may diverge, but give the Ausubel talk a listen, if you can tolerate even a whisper of optimism about the future.


Sounds like how the wealthy talk about taxation: demand a portion of money for the common good, and “they’ve decimated my income!


If we only lose 10% a decade or so we’ll never run out! Party on, dudes!



How about a bounty for designing plants that eat pavement and concrete?


That’s a fun idea.

I’ve been wanting to turn local divided highway medians into bee and butterfly highways by raising a forest of flowers. I know how to make seed bombs, I have the seeds, and I like the guerilla-beautification idea.

Several challenges: 1) Often, when the builder grades for a highway, the first thing they do is scrape off all the topsoil, leaving low-quality soil. It scarcely qualifies as ecosystem. 2) Median and shoulder maintenance frequently consists of clear-cut mowing, cutting everything down to within two or three inches of the ground. 3) I imagine police want to be able to see across medians.

So, it needs a champion and public support to be done on a large scale.


The only thing that’s changed since the 90’s is the percentage - there’ll be no change and soon enough it’ll all be gone. Then comes our decline, hastened by a few nukes, then extinction or a low level agrarian existence without the energy reserves to climb back again - until we finally fizzle out at some point. Enjoy the golden age while you can.


Fizzle well. Fizzle like Ange Virge and Zetsubou Sensei crashed on the same new planet.


What’s the incentive for going along with that scheme? It doesn’t sound like a great idea. FWIW I think that life is quite adaptable and resilient. A post-industrial humanity where people truly make an effort to manage material, energy, and knowledge resources sounds like an improvement to me.

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I, too, appreciate the proper use of the word. I saw the headline and thought, “Well, here goes again, another misuse of the word… oh, hm, 10%… well, cool!”


I blame that secret wood ring company.

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