Apr 22, 2008

Earth vs. the Earthlings

"Man seeks knowledge like the lemming seeks the ocean, instinct provoking self-destruction."

Does over-population invoke in man a greater level of instinctive self-destructive tendencies?

Yes, I realize that lemmings don't commit suicide en masse. The population fluctuation of lemmings is actually equally interesting as the fact that lemmings will accidentally run off cliffs or inadvertantly swim to their deaths during their migratory cycles in the middle of a population explosion. But it's this "suicide" that piques my interest on this Earth day.

This seems to me to be nature's way of culling the herd sans predators. As their population spikes they consume more of their resources, they crowd out habitable areas and the more innate the instinct for the animals to migrate into new areas. When new habitable areas with food sources are no more and the mass of their population is teeming, starving and frantic, some push onwards off cliffs or into bodies of water to their deaths.

Is certain behavior density dependent? It seems to me common sense that the more dense the population, no matter what the creature, that extremes of instinctive behavior will become more common. Especially as the increasing density of the population stresses and depletes the resources for said creature. These extremes will result in a culling of the herd in most cases.

With humans and our current population explosion, technology could be said to broken through our natural barriers to extreme density of population. Disease, starvation, and natural disasters no longer affect the human population with as much of a culling effect as they have centuries before. Our only natural predator is ourselves. It seems to be it could be said that the earth's ecological salvation may depend on human's ability to cull our own herd - ourselves.

Humankind's ability to adapt makes the un-checked population explosion of our species a most resilient plague upon our host-planet. Have our wars served to aid the planet by eradicating large swaths of humans periodically? Are human (and all other populations for that matter) destined to follow
elliot wave-like patterns of growth and decline?

And If this is indeed the pattern that provides for an orderly balance of ecology- What happens when humans crash gluttonously through the pattern, crowding out all other life with just more and more of US? Is it pure selfishness to desire to end plague, death, and war? By saving more and more of ourselves are we dooming ourselves and the entire ecosystem in the end?

Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day, stated:

"Forging and maintaining a sustainable society is the critical challenge for this and all generations to come. In responding to that challenge, population will be the critical factor in determining whether or not we succeed in forging such a society."

And Garrett Hardin, in 196,8 had this to say in Tragedy of the Commons:

"The most important aspect of necessity that we must now recognize, is the necessity of abandoning the commons in breeding. No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. At the moment, to avoid hard decisions many of us are tempted to propagandize for conscience and responsible parenthood. The temptation must be resisted, because an appeal to independently acting consciences selects for the disappearance of all conscience in the long run, and an increase in anxiety in the short.

The only way we can preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon. "Freedom is the recognition of necessity" -- and it is the role of education to reveal to all the necessity of abandoning the freedom to breed. Only so, can we put an end to this aspect of the tragedy of the commons."

UPDATE: Cheyenne has a related Earth Day post- Check out the Plant-viewpoint vid too.
UPDATE 2: Dcap does the Math

Related subjects:
Sustainable Population
Population and Environment
Tragedy of the Commons
Patterns within waves


The Poor Blogger said...

First, I think overpopulation is a bit of a misnomer. We can still fit the entire population of the earth on a relatively small portion of land. The problem is overconsumption. And that will not be remedied by anything but making "better" humans (meaning more moral).

Second, my problem with population control is that it always ends up targeting minorities and the poor. There are those who do it blatantly, like Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood and supporter of eugenics), although even those who are not blatantly racist, as she was, end up doing the same things.

What we say is only people who can provide for children should be able to have children, just as only people who can drive responsibly should get a driver's license. Makes sense, right? But what ends up happening is that the affluent have children (who are usualy Anglo-Caucasians) and the rest are prevented.

Here's the idea that I've been toying with. First, develop a method of birth control for men as well as women. Second (although I always am against government intervention), require all children of a certain age to take birth control. However, do not put any restrictions on who can have children. Anyone is allowed the opportunity. All they have to do is state that they wish to have a child and the process, whatever it is, is reversed.

Fade said...

How about this, K- Globally: Every single human is allowed One offspring- that's it. Then you are sterilized once the child is born. You have one chance to raise your offspring, educate them, keep them safe. And that's it. No more adoption agencies, no unnecessary abortions, population controlled.

The Station Agent said...

"Freedom is the recognition of necessity"

I like that. FDR said that freedom is the freedom from necessity. I think the two definitions certainly highlight the most important thing in life... Getting what you need. God knows what people will do when they can't.

droudy said...

I think human behavior is density dependent. Notice all the wars going on now, essentially to secure oil reserves. Our country doesn't know how to survive without expending massive amounts of energy (as well as any other resource), and those that are in power have decided that in order to secure our country (and their fortunes), they have to take the resources that will sustain us, even at the destruction of those who control or possess them. So war is the human form of population control. The more people there are, the scarcity of resources grows, the more paranoid and suspicious people become, and the more predatory in order to survive. Genocide seems to serve the same function.

Technology and ability exist so that we could find a way to work together and sustain ourselves responsibly, but can we really pull it off?

I agree to the one child per human idea, but for those who don't follow or "accidentally" have more, what will happen to those kids? Will it be like in China where they're abandoned or aborted, or will there be a subculture of unwanted children as a result? And will they be the subject of density-dependent "correction" in the future, or will they exert it themselves?

Also interesting and sad that Garrett Hardin fathered 4 children and then killed himself later. Maybe he felt guilty to be alive.

The Poor Blogger said...

F, I think the same thing would happen, but in a different way. Wealthy couples would either A) purchase a "baby voucher" of sorts from poor people or B) adopt the children of poor people. Regardless, state imposed sterilization (irreversible) is something I can't stomach. It's a seriously slippery slope from there to god-knows-where.

Here's what SHOULD happen. The people who "know better" should adopt. Like the Shakers. They didn't have children, but added to their ranks through adoption or conversion. But, as that probably won't happen, the next best thing (which I could actually stomach) for me is temporary sterilization with the option to reverse whenever one desires it. I bet that would cut down on procreation, possibly to a zero-growth level.

Fade said...

Droudy- Now, THAT is an interesting factoid. There are days where I feel guilty being alive.

K-What makes you think Wealthy people want more than one child? Most of the rich are the only ones I know who limit their offspring according to their financial wants (unlike poor stupid breeders like myself). State imposed sterilization is a radical idea, unthinkable to some- there's no arguing that. Or other ideas I have concerning those who try to live way beyond their capacity for life, via switching failing body parts and other matters that I consider unthinkable and selfishly immoral. The solution is probably a combination of a complex understanding that having more than one child makes life harder on your other child,your self, and others, in addition to a complex understanding that death comes for us all and is not something to be terrified of, followed up by sacrifices borne by all that makes our ecosystem more sustainable.

I predict apocalypse before global application of selflessness.

Utah Savage said...

I've always been a proponent of the one person--one child. It is the fucking fundamentalists like the polygamists that make me want to administer a basic "are you nice enough to breed" test.

BTW, there is a male birth control device or two, 1. Condom 2. Vasectomy

Fade said...

Utah- I wasn't advocating sterilization of just the women, but also vasectomy of the men.

The problem isn't a lack of birth control devices or services, but the ability and desire of people to employ them every single time they have sex.

The Poor Blogger said...

By "male birth control" I mean a reversible means of preventing men from procreating that does not involve an "in the moment" burst of responsibility from the man himself. Like a male IUD. They just need to make one that works for twenty years. You can get it removed for free when you're ready to birth some babies.

I don't know what to think about government response in the pedophilygamists (my new word) case. I do know that we can't make universal policy based on a couple of freaks.

On an entirely unrelated note, Fade, I think you would dig this book. And by dig, I mean read it and go into an apoplectic fit of fury at the policies of this nation.


Fade said...

I'll see your ecohitman and raise you the Ruling Class's creation of the Federal Reserve: http://www.amazon.com/Creature-Jekyll-Island-Edward-Griffin/dp/0912986409/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208897975&sr=1-1

And God, If they had a 20 year birth control option that didn't involve me trusting a Doctor to surgically cut me up- Both my sons would have it immediamente'.

It's too late for me. God likes me so much he wanted more of me on the planet. Perhaps that's Mother Nature working: kicking into to destroy humankind, i dunno

Fade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Utah Savage said...

So far, Fade, you sound like the only male responsible enough to actually qualify for more than the "meet my father, the sperm donor," award.

For most of you living in states other than Utah, you might think that the Pligs are a "a couple of looneys out in Texas," let me assure you, they are a great deal more than several thousands of men having sometimes hundreds of offspring each--ten wives who start popping out babies at fifteen=sixteen babies each, and, all the girl offspring passed off to other old farts, kept uneducated and under control, popping out...... well, perhaps you can see the problem with this. I have a friend who is the youngest child of a polygamist family in Salt Lake. Her mother has hundreds of grandchildren. Imagine the ignorance, the opportunities for abuses of every kind, the passing on to the next generation that love is "pretending with great conviction that this is love." I have watched her go from one worthless bastard to another. Well, actually I didn't do much better in the choosing nice men, myself, but at least I didn't reproduce and pass it on to my progeny.

Fade said...

Well, Ms.Savage, that's about the nicest compliment you could give me. Thank you.

fairlane said...

How about rather than having a baby quota, people are required to take a test before procreating, a test I design?

If a person fails, instead of being sterilized, they are put to sleep.

It's more like a "Life Test," as opposed to a "Do I Deserve to Have Children Test."

I know it seems harsh, but times are tough, and tough times require tough measures.

Besides, they are far too many idiots roaming free, and freedom is far too precious to simply hand out to the average mouthbreather.

Fade said...

Understand the snark, Fairlane, but unfortunately, that's how every neocon I know thinks- "Freedom is far to precious" for anyone but THEM to have it. They know how to perfect the world by killing those they don't like, starting with mexicans and blacks and ay-rabs. Elitism is in the eye of the "elite".

Will humankind ever get along? I guess we can all see that we won't.

fairlane said...

Yes, but instead of them choosing, it will be me, and I'm far more discerning.

You actually believed/believe people can get along?

There are six billion different perspectives on this planet.

The odds of even a small fraction ever aligning are, astronomical.

Hell, couples involved in romantic relationships can barely get along for more than a few years.

Shangri-La is in books because it's a fantasy, an impossibility.

To be honest, I consider those who strive for Utopia the most dangerous of all because there's only one way to create Utopia, Oppression.

People create a great deal of their own misery by expecting the utterly ridiculous from others.

Fade said...

-spoken like a true misanthrope. I feel that way sometimes, but most of the time- I guess I am utterly ridiculous in the eyes of those like you - since I am capable of peace, contentment, and getting along with everyone around me who aren't actively oppressing me. That makes me Dangerous? Only to the real bastards out there, who are unable to conceive of a peaceful existence. It does exist, out there, in many forms or fashions. Usually in smaller communities that interact with each other daily. That is, until some greedy ass decides to fuck it all up.

I am to blame for misery? Because I should expect misery instead of something greater or better?

The world becomes a better place by degrees when people work together to make it that way. I'm not asking for Utopia, but something less than the Hell so many EXPECT as a given is Possible.

Utah Savage said...

I like Fade's vision and hope better than fairlane's rather jaded view of our possibilities. On the other hand I'm about a cynical as they come.