Friday, January 29, 2010

Malthusian catastrophe

There's this thought going around that humans on planet Earth might be about to experience a Malthusian correction. The idea is that our population has outstripped the resources of the planet and is about to go into a horrible decline.

Now there is little doubt human population expanded greatly due to heavy exploitation of non renewable resources. It takes something like 9 calories of fossil energy to produce one calorie of food energy. The system worked well enough back when huge, easily exploited oil fields were turning up all over the place. Now discoveries are smaller and located in places like the deep ocean or high Arctic. The major oil fields of the past are in decline. The cheap energy that made the population explosion possible is going away.

A collapse seems logical. A population die back to sustainable levels not dependent on fossil energy seems inevitable.

That might be true. In fact, it might be happening now. Look at the horror and starvation in the world's poor and crowded countries, and it's easy to believe the Malthusian die off has begun.

It doesn't have to be that way. Society can be retooled from the ground up. Some believe that low energy, high production gardening, like permaculture, can prevent the worst of the die off. I think it might, but there's a few problems. Economic systems that funnel money and resources from the poorer populations to a rich elite won't allow such systems to be built -not on the scale needed. Big business does not want a world of gardens and cottage industry. Never mind that's what might save most of us. Business and the ruling class would rather have the plantation/factory system, even if a lot of people starve to death. There's no money in everyone being self reliant and independent. What can business and government offer someone who has everything he needs close by?

So here's my solution. For the sake of argument, we'll assume that a Malthusian catastrophe is going to happen. Fine. Let's manage it.

It's terribly inefficient to have millions of the world's poorest people die off. They are barely using any resources. Now the current model says the solution is have billions die off.

Let's turn the model upside down. Why start at the bottom? Let's start with the Queen of England. How many people could live in that gaudy shack she sleeps in? Let's plant some turnips on those manicured grounds. Heck, we wouldn't even have to bump her off. Just have her live like the bottom 1% instead of the top 1%.

I'm sure distributing the resources of the top 1 - 3% should allow the bottom 97% a fairly decent lifestyle. Now it's true we are still in energy decline, but it sure buys us lots of breathing room.

Think of the human race as a nice apple tree. Pruning a bit off the top allows the lower branches a chance to fill in and be more fruitful.

So the next time one of the elite proclaims a population reduction is necessary, agree with him. Just remember to start with the elite. Once he's kicked out of his big house, we can raise tilapia in his swimming pool. Heck, we can be generous and let him move into the pool shed. It's probably bigger and better built than most third world housing.

Think about it. Just doing my part to make it a better world.


1 comment:

  1. Let them build a tower to the top and let the gods deal with them.