For systems thinkers, the natural community provides a perfect model of negative feedback. A simpler model is the thermostat that controls your furnace. Negative feedback. Great stuff. The A of the ABCs of ecology is food. The community of life is nothing else. The B of the ABCs of ecology is this, that the ebb and flow of all populations is a function of food availability.
An increase in food availability for a species means growth. A reduction in food availability means decline. More food, growth. Less food, decline.
Boiling a Frog
Every time. Without exception. There is no species that dwindles in the midst of abundance, no species that thrives on nothing. Then about 10, years ago we began to grow rapidly. This was not a miraculous event or an accidental event or even a mysterious event. This ability to make food available at will is the blessing on which our civilization is founded.
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The ability to produce food at will is an undoubted blessing, but its very blessedness can make it dangerous — and dangerously addictive. Because we could now produce food at will, our population was no longer subject to control by food availability on a random basis. Anytime we wanted more food, we could grow it. After three million years of being limited by what was available, we began to control what was available — and invariably we began to increase what was available.
And so do the folks next door. And so do the folks farming throughout your region. You are all involved in increasing food availability for your species. And here comes the B in the ABCs of ecology: An increase in food availability for a species means growth for that species. Population expansion among agriculturists was followed by territorial expansion among agriculturists. Territorial expansion made more land available for food production — and no one goes into farming to reduce food production.
More land, more food production, more population growth.
With more people, we need more food. With more food available, we soon have more people — as predicted by the laws of ecology. With more food, we soon have more people. Positive feedback, this is called, in systems terminology.
Negative feedback checks an increasing effect. Positive feedback reinforces an increasing effect. Positive feedback is what we see at work in this agricultural revolution of ours. Increased population stimulates increased food production, which increases the population.
More food, more people. More people, more food. Positive feedback. Bad stuff. Dangerous stuff. Into a nice roomy cage we introduce two young, healthy mice. The cage has a built-in feeder that enables us to make food available to the mice in any quantity we like. We start by putting in a certain amount of food and we increase it daily.
Before long there are 4 mice. No matter, we follow our procedure. Before long there are 8 mice, 16 mice, 32 mice. This is a population explosion! What shall we do? I have a suggestion. Answer: kilos of food. So today we put just kilos of food into the cage, same as yesterday. Now watch closely.
I prossimi eventi
There are no food riots. Why should there be? The mice have just as much to eat today as they did yesterday. Now watch closely again. No mice are starving. Why would there be? Now its tomorrow, and again we put just kilos of food into the cage. Again, watch closely. There are still no food riots. Still no mice starving. We do it again on day three. Again, no food riots, no mice starving.
Of course — and old mice are dying. Day four, day five, day six. There are 64, mice, and kilos of food will feed 64, mice. Why should there be riots? Why should there be famine? And the population explosion stopped overnight. What else could it do? Population growth has to be supported by increased food availability. Less food — decline. More food — growth. Same food — stability. These mice are eating us out of house and home.
Why not 8,? Why not 4,? You know what to do because you understand the B in the ABCs of ecology. All we need is food control. Yesterday kilos of food went into the cage. Oh no, another objects. A kilo is too much. Tension in the lab as everyone waits for food riots and famine — but of course there are no food riots and no famine. Among 64, mice, a quarter of a kilo of food is like a flake of dandruff apiece. This procedure is followed for days — and not once is there a food riot or a famine. After days only kilos of food are going into the cage — and guess what?
There are no longer 64, mice in the cage. There are only 32, Not a miracle — just a demonstration of the laws of ecology. A decline in food availability has been answered by a decline in population. As always. Nothing to do with riots. Nothing to do with famine. Just the normal response of a feeder population to the availability of food. They feel menaced by them. They get angry.
This is basically the position taken by birth-control advocates. This is basically the position taken by well-intentioned organizations that undertake to improve indigenous agricultural techniques in Third World countries. They want to give technologically undeveloped peoples the means of increasing their population with one hand and birth-control aids with the other hand. This represents a denial of the B in the ABCs of ecology. History — and not just 30 years of history but 10, years of history — offers no support whatever for the idea that we can simultaneously increase food production and end population growth.
On the contrary, history resoundingly confirms what ecology teaches: If you make more food available, there will be more people to consume it. Obviously the matter is different at the individual level. Is he going to soak it in gasoline and burn it? Is he going to sell it? We are food because we are what we eat — and what we eat is food.
To put it plainly, each and every one of us is made from food. When people tell me that our population will continue to add new millions even if we stop increasing food production, then I have to ask what these additional millions of people will be made of, since no additional food is being produced for them.
And of course I have to deal with the starving millions. There are two things to understand here. The first is that the excess that we produce each year does not go to feed the starving millions. Where did it go? It went to fuel our population explosion. The second thing is that everyone involved in the problem of world hunger knows that the problem is not a shortage of food. Producing more food just produces more people.
Our population explosion can no more continue without food than a fire can continue without fuel. When all else fails, it will be objected that the people of the world will not tolerate a limit on food. What do I have against birth control? It just represents very poor problem-solving strategy. Birth control is a strategy aimed at effects.
Food-production control is a strategy aimed at causes. If you have reaction 1 , The Story of B has several pages of Objections that Quinn addresses in patient detail.
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Quinn has no answer for the fatalists and salvationists in the second camp — he just sees them as part of the problem. He offers no suggestion on how to do that, just assurances, as descibed above, that such reduction will not produce massive famine and poverty, but will in fact alleviate it. In his well-intentioned desire to bring attention to the problems of overpopulation, he unfortunately discredited and set the ZPG movement back decades. On the surface it would seem futile to expect political consensus and action towards a global, mandated reduction in food production, for all kinds of reasons.
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But there was a time when other political struggles seemed equally impossible given the political, social and economic realities of the day — bringing an end to slavery and getting women the right to vote come to mind. And reducing agricultural production would have all kinds of other benefits besides lowering population quickly — freeing up farmland for other uses human and natural , reducing cruelty to animals in factory farms, reducing the degradation of land, reducing soil erosion, reducing the burning of forests to create cropland, less environmental damage due to production and runoff of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, less global warming caused by farm animal wastes, and less reliance on genetically-altered foods.
This entry was posted in Preparing for Civilization's End. Bookmark the permalink. Lynn White argued in an alternative cause of the current and future ecological crisis: not so much Christianity, but the emphasis Christians placed on certain sections of the Bible, and that there is a tradition within Christianity that of St. Granted, the argument presented by Quinn suggests the root cause happened earlier with the form of cultivation that humans chose, but at least both are in agreement that the current crisis was caused far earlier than the Industrial Revolution.
Both are the same document, but the latter comes from a. How about boiling this down a bit so that your main points are a bit more clear. If it reaches a critical point, and evidence seems to indicate we are heading there, the usually dense cold salt water will be too diluted to fall to the bottom of the ocean and the conveyor belt will stop. When that happens it will take between 2 and 4 years for the ambient temperature of the Atlantic to drop the remnants of the last warm Pacific ocean water carried ther by the belt and a 10, to 15, year Ice Age will hit the Northern Hemospher, in Particular lands that are bounded by the Atlantic.
The damage however will not stop there. The Gulf Stream is also responsible for the tropical rains. Without it operational the tropics and the southern hemisphere will go into extreme drought conditions. Fire and drought will kill off much of humanity in the South and ice and cold those in the North with starvation being the main killer on both sides of the equator. How serious and imminent is this? No one really know but the Pentagon is taking it serious. Nobody knows — the action of the Great Conveyor Belt in defining ice ages was discovered only in the last decade.
Preliminary computer models and scientists willing to speculate suggest the switch could flip as early as next year, or it may be generations from now. As a species we will be lucky if we survive it in numbers sufficient to prolong the species. Then again that might not be such a bad thing — from a planetary perspective. Just because two events have the appearance of a constant relation to one another does not necessarily mean that the relationship is cause and effect.
Even if it was in the past there is no certainty that it will in the future. Further, on the proposition that the reduction in the food supply will cause a painless reduction in population is to say that no straw will break the camels back, or that there is no tipping point. Is someone wanting to play God here?
Suggesting the reduction in food supply will lead to a benign reduction in population is in no way supported by what has been written, the example of the mice is very simplistic and not reflective of reality. Implementation of such an idea will have innumerable unintended consequences since knowledge of the higher laws of nature is limited, and commonly our mind lacks understanding and awareness of its own real motivation. The proposed idea will remain and I suggest is best left as an intellectual exercise since it affronts humanness.
I do accept however that any proposed solution that does not scale to the problem is not really a solution at all. Perhaps better question to ask is, what is the real problem? I suggest that it is better to look within ourselves first as a more productive opportunity to achieve real change that may actual make a positive difference. Lab mice never or I should say none of them produce their own food.
Humans some of them, admittedly a small minority in the developed world do produce their own food. But really, what we are hinting at, but not completely describing, is an energy budget. What about the energy to produce extra food, which the mice did not have to expend? I think there are too many factors in the energy budget of human ascendancy over nature, agricultural methods, food production and availability and growth of population for this to be an airtight case. It is not disproved, but it needs work. Still, I am going to link to this article, because it is something that merits discussion.
Interestingly, it looks like the human population growth is slowing. Ironically, these nations consider it a problem to be solved plays merry hell with the dominant economic paradigm , possibly by loosening the barriers to immigration again. This retelling of the story of human beings always reminds me of the barbed wire wars which resulted from the fencing of land in the North American west— a practice which interfered with the free-ranging life of the cowboy cattle-herders as much as it did with the few remaining hunter-gatherer indigenous people.
Diminishing the population too fast is hardly an issue. We produce too much far too much food now, anyway, leading to enormous waste and obesity. If we want to work at improving the distribution of foods to the hungry, we should be able to do that, as well, while reducing overall production. There are a couple of very effective programs in Nashville which salvage food which would have been thrown away, from groceries and restaurants, so that it can be made available to people too poor to buy food.
Thanks for posting this. The current standard of constant economic growth — where maintenance of current profits is equal to failure — encourages, indeed requires not only constant population growth but accelerating population growth. This is a mentality, a systemic necessity, and a policy standard that needs to be changed before anything can even be approached about our population problems.
North American companies and ideas drive the developing countries. The change needs to start here, even though our own population growth rate is decreasing. Very intriguing post. Thomas Robert Malthus was a British economist, whose famous Theory of Population highlighted the potential dangers of overpopulation. In his famous An Essay on the Principles of Population , Malthus shows as that: 'the populations of the world would increase in geometric proportions the food resources available for them would increase only in arithmetic proportions'.
In simple words, human population can increase at a faster rate than the food supply. Agriculture has diminishing returns. Therefore, in a productive process, as the agrarian, where is needed to add more of one factor of production, at some point yield lower per-unit returns, whereas, population has an exponential growth. This situation leads to future where humans would reach the situation where the food sources could not support everyone.
The lack of food causes hunger, disease and war. This were, for Malthus, the positive checks. Methods that raise the death rate. To avoid such a catastrophe, Malthus urged some controls on population growth before reaching the food shortage. He called them: Preventative checks. Preventative checks where methods to control population based on birth rate control, and uses of different ways to applied them. One of his ideas was marry later in life than had been usual to do, only at a stage when fully people were capable of supporting their family. Thomas Malthus. The essay was the result of his skepticism towards positivist theorists, praising the perfectibility of man and greeting the advances and diffusion of human knowledge as a source of welfare and freedom for future generations.
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Disagreeing with such perspectives, Malthus maintained that the development of mankind was severely limited by the pressure that population growth exerted on the availability of food. The foundation of Malthus' theory relies on two assumptions that h Few economists have had such controversial ideas, and generated a debate on such a scale as Thomas Malthus.
Disagreeing with such perspectives, Malthus maintained that the development of mankind was severely limited by the pressure that They spread the news and awareness but portray it in a comedic way. This is known as political satire, which gives light and laughter to serious topics around the world. Aristotle defines comedy as a representation of laughable people and involves some kind of blunder or ugliness that does not cause pain or disaster.
The oldest example that has still survived today is Aristophanes work. He was a well-known play writer in Greece who addressed political topics by using comedy in his plays. Both of these artists accomplish political satire in their own way. Although Aristophanes and Stephen Colbert both talk and discuss political topics using comedy, it is evident that they differ because of the difference in time frame and forms of comedy. In order to discuss the differences, we must first look into what was happening at the time of Aristophanes.
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Ancient Greeks were polytheists, or believing in more than one god. Each god had his or her control over something on earth such as Zeus or Poseidon. Ancient Greeks, at the time, were Sign Up. Sign In. Sign Up Sign In. Continue Reading Please join StudyMode to read the full document. Malthusian theory of population Essay Read More.
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