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Malthus had a point

 
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Plodder



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 3
Location: Bristol

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:45 pm    Post subject: Malthus had a point Reply with quote

Could it be that Malthus and his theories about maximum populations were correct? Many of his theories have been discredited because oil saved the day and agri-business allowed ever increasing populations to survive thanks to intensive use of the land with fertilisers, powerful machines and the ability to move food around the globe. If in a PO world we no longer have industrial scale farming and the ability to move food around the world then we could find that the populations which the land can support drop dramatically. I don't know what population the UK could support without oil-based fertilisers, diesel for the tractors and kerosene to fly in the mangoes but I suspect it might not be that high.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect it could still be as high as it is today - just we'll be back to 30% of the working population in the fields rather than the just less than 1% we have today. The actual productivity per acre of mono-cropped agriculture isn't that high, it's just very very labour efficient. If we all had kitchen gardens, fish ponds, fruit trees, less meat in a closed nutrient cycle permaculture style we could all be fed with food to spare.

I don't think the Malthusian argument is very applicable to human population sizes, I think behaviour is more important than population numbers. For example with rabbits it's clear that 100 rabbits places 100 times the demand on their eco system than 1 rabbit does. With people though 100 Americans places a vastly different demand on the ecosystem than 100 Bangladeshis.

I suspect the world can't even support 1bn people behaving as Americans do but this same world might be able to support 10bn people behaving as Bangladeshis do. So what's the population limit?

I think talking about 2bn, 6bn or 10bn is secondary to talking about our behaviour characteristics.

I see you're from Bristol? Great! We had a meeting a few weeks ago with 9 people, I think it's about time we organised something else!
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isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generally I would say that the overall argument put forward by Malthus is correct and that any society will have a maximum amount of people it can support but I think his figures were not correct. I also think that behaviour does have something to do with how many people you can support, so does technology so knowing the exact limit is difficult. However, I would say I don?t think we have reach that limit yet as I think, even without oil, we could produce enough food to feed us all and have some over (but not the way we are doing things now).

Smile
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone who suggests we can "Behave our way out of a crisis" actually tried suggesting to anyone that they should lower their standard of living (SOL)?

I have been ridiculed on every occasion when I have.

My girlfriend also complains about me not bathing every day; this is a habit I formed in 1992 when I recognised that industrial people have to lower their SOL whilst others raise theirs (i.e. contraction and convergence). Put another way; I have trouble lowering my own SOL when I have to interface with others who won't lower theirs.
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If we think about the way we could still build a society that has a high standard of living but is still in balance with the ecology and self-sufficient. A lot of the problems we face are more to do with the way we do things that anything else. Even PO. We spend our time pushing little bits of debt tokens around while a minority try to hard as much of them as they can and the rest just try to live as well as they can and in between is caught the ecosystem!

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SherryMayo



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps another one of the problems we face is also the way we define "standard of living" - eg as in "he who dies with the most toys wins".
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. I was also more thinking of things like health, free time, access to leisure facilitates that sort of thing. On the toy side I was thinking more of labour saving devices and not really novelty devices (although they are also important for standard of living as they can make life a bit more fun). I was thinking those sorts of ?toy? things would be additional as well as arts and crafts and would come about naturally when the other, more import things, had been established.

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SherryMayo



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way isenhand, when do you sleep? Smile

You're the only one regularly online when I'm posting from Australia!
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SherryMayo wrote:
By the way isenhand, when do you sleep? Smile

You're the only one regularly online when I'm posting from Australia!


I some times manage to get some sleep at night. I?m at work at the mo. I just log on in the morning and check back every now and then to see any changes. Brakes up the boredom of being at work. Very Happy
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fishertrop



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isenhand wrote:

I some times manage to get some sleep at night. I?m at work at the mo. I just log on in the morning and check back every now and then to see any changes. Brakes up the boredom of being at work. Very Happy


What line of work are you in?
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

at the moment I'm back in industry doing software engineering but still hope to get back to academia.
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