- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Hold your breath, the air is running out

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( EFZ, Massachusetts ) on April 06, 1999 at 13:44:42:

In Reply to: McKibben and not holding ones breath posted by Gee on April 06, 1999 at 12:18:12:

: :
Simon and his ilk owe their success to this: they have been right so far.

: I would agree with that. I would also agree with the warning 'past does not predict future' but what I would prefer to see in such observation is the question of why Simon has been right "so far".

He's not been right about the swordfish and cod, nor has he been right about the preservation of biodiversity and natural environments. Nor have they been right in predicting that hunger wouldcease to bea problem. Malnutrition and famine affect 840 million people, and the market has hitherto shown them no sign ofrelief- how do you explain that?

: Its interesting to consider this is the light of downward movements in the predictions of human populations. It seems possible, even probable, that human populations are self levelling in a non cataclysmic manner.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of population leveling have been greatly exaggerated. The rate of increase is somewhat slower now, yes. But 1) in large areas of the world, like Africa, there has hitherto been no decrease in the overall birthrate, 2) the worldwide population keeps growing at I think 1.7% orsomething likethat, that works out to a major increase, 3)much of the "decrease' isdue to the coercive Chinese policy, and may vanish once China's government becomes more liberal, 4) thevast majority ofcountries cvontinueto post significant population growth, and 5) there is no evidence that our population issustainableat current levels, leavealone at some 11 billion.

: There is no suggestion (at least I didnt perceive it in Simons work) that material will appear from nothing and that there is no need to be concerned, but there is a confident optimism based upon the research on human activity, rather that a refutation of the above principles

Yes but the limits in natural resources must betaken into account.

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