The argument in the article in the OP is really a terrible one. "At 7 billion people the problem isn't that the world is over populated, the only problem is that most of those several billion have standards of living higher than that of the average person starving to death in sub-Saharan Africa." Really, mr. Pearce? Really?
He also, IMO, seems to be arguing against a very significant straw man. He says that the people who complain about overpopulation are in the developed world, and the argument is always levied against the developing world. In short, he says that the 'overpopulation' argument is veiled racism. I've never heard the argument in those terms before. I've always heard "The world is over populated", not "The poors are breeding too much", like this author suggests. More to the point, I've always seen the argument as being: The world is overpopulated because it cannot afford to have everyone at a high standard of living."
Also, why does the article focus on population growth? Why are already over populated
. We burned 100 million years worth of oil in 100 years. Having a stagnating population won't fix that.
The Great Hippo wrote:It's a cute story--but it's also one that's completely irrelevant, and I'm mildly miffed that it was presented as if it was.
It's not completely irrelevant. It exactly answered the question you posed which was 'if we know a problem is going to hit us in a few decades time, why not try to tackle it now?' The article exposed quite surgically that the problems we expect
to occur (and that includes
overpopulation - or, the worry of the 1930s which was 'Western populations entering terminal decline') typically never
end up occurring. Instead, problems totally out of left-field - eg. ocean acidification - end up occurring instead.
Or, on the other hand, it is nonsense ramblings. The closest it come to making a point is disproving the article's thesis.
First off, it blatantly ignores all the times the doomsayers were right
Secondly, the author whole-heartedly embraces Normalcy bias. I mean he wallows in it. Like a pig in shit. The entire reasoning behind his article is that Normalcy shouldn't be viewed as a bias, but is a valid and, in fact, the preferred method of reasoning.
And what is the thesis of the article?
We commonly read or hear reports to the effect that “If trend X continues, the result will be disaster.” [...] Unless, that is, we mend our ways according to the author’s prescription. This almost invariably involves restrictions on personal liberty.
That's the gist of it. So what example does he use? Cities and horses.
"If we continue to use horses the way we do,the result will be disaster," says the doomsayer.
Fast forward 20 years, horses are no longer being used the way they were.
The author uses the fact that there was no disaster to say that the doomsayer was wrong. Because you know, 'If trend X continues' is synonymous with 'this crisis is completely unavoidable'.
And then to make matter worse? "Unless, that is, we mend our ways according to the author’s prescription." is backed up by this:
In 1898 the first international urban-planning conference convened in New York. It was abandoned after three days, instead of the scheduled ten, because none of the delegates could see any solution to the growing crisis posed by urban horses and their output.
We should draw two lessons from this. First, human beings, left to their own devices, will usually find solutions to problems, but only if they are allowed to; that is, if they have economic institutions, such as property rights and free exchange, that create the right incentives and give them the freedom to respond. If these are absent or are replaced by political mechanisms, problems will not be solved.
In addition to building an argument build only out of fallacies, he somehow draws the conclusion that economics solved the horse shit problem, not, you know, technological innovation
Worst of all?
The price of crude oil is rising, partly due to political uncertainty, but primarily because of rapid growth in China and India. This has led to a spate of articles predicting that oil production will soon peak
He's a complete idiot. He apparently thinks that peak oil is some new term that has arisen because of high oil prices. Complete. Idiot.
nitePhyyre wrote:The question is: When the population was just 999,999 and carrying capacity == economic production, where did you get that first scientist ?
I think you mean 99,999 in my example. It's not like those 99,999 dolts are immortal and don't have children. They die, and the first guy of the next generation is the scientist.
Yeah, I added an extra '9'.
For most of human history and prehistory, everyone was a subsistence farmer. Sure, with a 99,999 person population someone will give birth to a gifted scientist. But without a pre-existing economic surplus this gifted scientist will be a subsistence farmer. Again, for most of history, f(pop) == economic production == economic consumption. How was the equality broken is the pertinent question IMO. Your example started after it was already broken.
nitePhyyre wrote:How the hell do you get: "the economy isn't pricing science properly, therefore, having more scientists is a greater benefit to science than having more resources for science"?
It's not a therefore in there. My first response is that we don't have enough scientists. Part of the reason for this is that would-be scientists are not deterred because a lack of resources in society in general, but because surplus resources are diverted elsewhere
. No, it's not because of overpopulation that those resources aren't available, it's because we'd rather spend more of our GDP on frivolous shit.
Ahh. So 1st choice would be to have more science done per capita, but if that's not an option you can get similar results by brute force breeding? Is that what you are saying?
If so, I'll have to think about that for a bit, I think I mostly agree. Not sure.
Heisenberg wrote:I agree that growing watermelons in California and golf courses in Arizona are grossly inefficient and pretty stupid. However, the fact that we can and do get away with these kinds of misuse suggests to me that we are not overtaxing the natural resources of the planet. For instance, wasting the Colorado River on pretty fountains in Vegas is abhorrent to me, but the fact that people aren't dying of thirst there suggests to me that there's plenty of water to go around. And honestly, even if there were people dying of thirst in Vegas, I wouldn't blame the thirsty people, I'd blame the rich dick spraying all the water into the air.
I agree that driving from one city to the next with the gas gauge on empty is pretty stupid. However, the fact that the car started suggests to me that we are not overtaxing the natural fuel reserves of the car. For instance, wasting energy racing and stopping abruptly is abhorrent to me, but the fact that the car hasn't stalled there suggests to me that there's plenty of gas to go around.
Soralin wrote:Nothing beats exponential growth in the long term.
Now, I'm not saying things are headed toward disaster.[...]
Our economy requires exponential growth, or it collapses, disastrously. It wont be as bad as running out of food, water, or air, but still...