16 May 2007

You'd Think They'd Have The Decency To Volunteer

Via a comment at Bryan Appleyard's blog, I came to this post at a Canadian blog. In sum, the author proves that there are four or five billion more people on the planet than the planet can support long-term. It seems that there is going to have to be a massive die-off over the next 70 years so that we can get back down to the billion or so that rational people understand to be the proper population. This is not in any way a call to action. The time for action has already passed and, of course, since the carrying capacity of the planet is a scientific fact -- scientific, I tell you -- there's nothing to be done.

It's hard to say what's most endearing about this nonsense. The reduction of human population to a function with just one input (oil) is certainly striking. Apparently, once oil was discovered, the internal combustion engine, miracle drugs, increased food yields, better nutrition, etc., was a done deal.

There is also a certain endearing smugness from the Canadian commenters about the fact that they have plenty of oil and may be the one country in the world below it's carrying capacity. Because being an underpopulated, resource rich nation with no military to speak of situated just north of the United States just guarantees that Gaia loves them.

But the winner has to be how quickly they turn to Darwin for solace over the deaths of most of the rest of us. (Have I mentioned that they're Canadian and thus safe?) This is just the necessary culling of the herd so that the fittest can survive. A shame and all that, but what can you do?

11 comments:

Susan's Husband said...

I tried to write up a snarky comment, but it's self-parodying beyond my ability to improve.

Bret said...

Whew! For a second there, while reading the article, I thought I had transported to an alternate universe where the very laws of physics and culture are completely different. Boy, was I relieved when I looked up and found myself still comfortably in my own office here on planet Earth!

joe shropshire said...

Appleyard's original post looks like a comment on something James Lovelock said (no link, so can't be sure.) Lovelock is the 'Gaia hypothesis' guy. He's 78 years old, and obviously finds comfort in the face of his own imminent death by gleefuly prophesying global warming doom: humankind reduced to 'a few breeding pairs' shagging away on the near edge of the Arctic Circle while the rest of the planet boils, and so forth. This is pretty predictable. As the West gets older and older, we are going to see bigger and bigger flocks of these apocalyptically bitter old men, sort of in the Kurt Vonnegut mold. What is worrisome is that college-sheltered, impressionable, citified young folk -- Canadians, to a first approximation -- appear to be taking them seriously.

joe shropshire said...

Lovelock is actually 88 years old (1919 -- ), not 78.

Harry Eagar said...

Looks like they found that hockey stick they lost.

Oroborous said...

The thing to remember about "peak oil" is that humanity already survived "peak firewood" and "peak whale oil" with no discernible ill effects - indeed, we're living better than ever.

So too shall it be with "peak oil".

Further, the "overpopulation" problem isn't a function of science - the planet's carrying capacity - but instead it's a function of politics.
If all nations were as well-run as are No. America and Northern Europe, then humanity would be using resources efficiently, and there would be no crises. (Political struggles over policies, sure, but no crises).

David said...

And, of course, if you look at nations the correlation between population and energy use is more or less the opposite of what they would expect.

Harry Eagar said...

We have a noisy sustainability group in the county. So far, I've managed to ignore it, but if I am ever forced to write about it, there will be a line about how our island is 10 times bigger than Hong Kong with one-twentieth as many people.

It just occurred to me that this is exactly like counting the number of angels who can stand on the head of a pin.

David said...

Harry: I assume that sustainability means the same thing on Maui as it does in Florida, namely: Everyone who moved here after me should leave.

Peter Burnet said...

Don't you worry about those smug, mean-spirited Canadians, David. Most of us want you to know that if the States ever squeezes you out through over-population, there will always be a place in our Arctic for you. Sadly, all these places have already been taken.

David said...

Peter: Thanks for your concern, but by the time we're forced to take it, the Arctic will be the only temperate zone on the planet.