Monday, July 14, 2008

I Aint Sayin' Stop Begettin'

If people would stop breeding like rabbits, we could all have a place on the beach, drive 18' long convertible gas guzzler's and well; all would balance with the natural decay of fall wood, which produces the same amount of carbon monoxide rotting as burning it other than burning it releases it much faster. So I suppose the lesson that everyone should recognize is we are on a small piece of real estate and if we continue to reproduce at the rate we are we will all be third world countries. More people more methane, more cows more methane less trees, less trees, less fresh air, less farmland less food, more people more fuel...Yes Thomas Malthus nailed it on the head and if you care to read the wicked wikipedia short version of his over 150 year old valid observation, continue.

The Principle of Population

Between 1798 and 1826 Malthus published six editions of his famous treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population, updating each edition to incorporate new material, to address criticism, and to convey changes in his own perspectives on the subject. He wrote the original text in reaction to the optimism of his father and his father's associates, (notably Rousseau) regarding the future improvement of society. Malthus also constructed his case as a specific response to writings of William Godwin (1756-1836) and of the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794).

Malthus regarded ideals of future improvement in the lot of humanity with scepticism, considering that throughout history a segment of every human population seemed relegated to poverty. He explained this phenomenon by pointing out that population growth generally preceded expansion of the population's resources, in particular the primary resource of food:

" all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition."[2]

"The way in which, these effects are produced seems to be this. We will suppose the means of subsistence in any country just equal to the easy support of its inhabitants. The constant effort towards population... increases the number of people before the means of subsistence are increased. The food therefore which before supported seven millions must now be divided among seven millions and a half or eight millions. The poor consequently must live much worse, and many of them be reduced to severe distress. The number of labourers also being above the proportion of the work in the market, the price of labour must tend toward a decrease, while the price of provisions would at the same time tend to rise. The labourer therefore must work harder to earn the same as he did before. During this season of distress, the discouragements to marriage, and the difficulty of rearing a family are so great that population is at a stand. In the mean time the cheapness of labour, the plenty of labourers, and the necessity of an increased industry amongst them, encourage cultivators to employ more labour upon their land, to turn up fresh soil, and to manure and improve more completely what is already in tillage, till ultimately the means of subsistence become in the same proportion to the population as at the period from which we set out. The situation of the labourer being then again tolerably comfortable, the restraints to population are in some degree loosened, and the same retrograde and progressive movements with respect to happiness are repeated."

Malthus also saw that societies through history had experienced at one time or another epidemics, famines, or wars: events that masked the fundamental problem of populations overstretching their resource limitations:

"The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world."

To give a mathematical perspective to his observations, Malthus proposed the idea that population, if unchecked, increases at a geometric rate (i.e. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.), whereas the food-supply grows at an arithmetic rate (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.).

In the first edition of the Essay, Malthus suggested that only natural causes (such as accidents and old age), misery (war, pestilence, plague, and above all famine) [Book I, Ch. 2], and vice (which for Malthus included infanticide, murder, contraception and homosexuality) [Book I, Ch. 5.] could check excessive population-growth. In the second and subsequent editions, Malthus raised the possibility of moral restraint (marrying late or not at all, coupled with sexual abstinence prior to, and outside of, marriage) as a check on the growth of population. (Others[who?] criticised him, however, for implying that restraint applied only to the working and poor classes.) He also proposed the gradual abolition of poor laws that gave no incentive to birth control, supporting instead private charity.

Malthus took offence at criticism that he lacked a caring attitude towards the situation of the poor. He wrote in an addition to the 1817 edition:

"I have written a chapter expressly on the practical direction of our charity; and in detached passages elsewhere have paid a just tribute to the exalted virtue of benevolence. To those who have read these parts of my work, and have attended to the general tone and spirit of the whole, I willingly appeal, if they are but tolerably candid, against these charges ... which intimate that I would root out the virtues of charity and benevolence without regard to the exaltation which they bestow on the moral dignity of our nature.... (p. 607)[3]

Some[who?] have argued that Malthus did not fully recognize the human capacity to increase food supply. On this subject Malthus wrote: "The main peculiarity which distinguishes man from other animals, is the means of his support, is the power which he possesses of very greatly increasing these means."[citation needed]

[edit] Malthus's expectations of growth in population

See also: Malthusian equilibrium

Since 1800, global food production has generally kept pace with population growth, but increasing numbers of humans call for new ways "to increase yields while preserving natural habitats and biodiversity".[4]

Elwell states that Malthus made no specific prediction regarding the future; and that what some interpret as prediction merely constituted Malthus's illustration of the power of geometric (or exponential) population growth compared to the arithmetic growth of food-production.[5] Rather than predicting the future, the Essay offers an evolutionary social theory. Eight major points regarding evolution appear in the 1798 Essay:[6]

1. subsistence severely limits population-level
2. when the means of subsistence increases, population increases
3. population-pressures stimulate increases in productivity
4. increases in productivity stimulate further population-growth
5. since this productivity can not keep up with the potential of population growth for long, population requires strong checks to keep it in line with carrying-capacity
6. individual cost/benefit decisions regarding sex, work, and children determine the expansion or contraction of population and production
7. checks will come into operation as population exceeds subsistence-level
8. the nature of these checks will have significant effect on the rest of the sociocultural system — Malthus points specifically to misery, vice, and poverty

Malthusian theory has had great influence on evolutionary theory, both in biology (as acknowledged by Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace) and in the social sciences (compare Herbert Spencer). Malthus's population theory has also profoundly affected the modern-day ecological-evolutionary social theory of Gerhard Lenski and Marvin Harris. He can thus rank as a key contributing element of the canon of socioeconomic theory.



At 3:28 AM , Blogger Mone said...

Wow, Malthus knew all that stuff like 200 years ago and I thought it was a sign of the times...

What else is new?

PS: Love the pics :)

At 3:38 AM , Blogger Zen Wizard said...

I feel I am doing my part by never getting laid.

On a serious note, the "good news" or rather the silver lining is that as the countries that are really spitting out the babies--e.g., China and India--urbanize and get more gentrified, they will tend to have less kids. Rural populations tend to have MORE kids it is my understanding.

What about Angelina Jolie? There will certainly be a lot of zit faced punks asking for the car keys in about 14 years, is all I got to say.

Those rug rats aren't that "cute" when they crash the Beemer into a telephone pole and get a scorpion tattooed onto their face.

At 3:39 AM , Blogger Zen Wizard said...

Oh, and "Whew!"--

I was running out of, "Rednecks on a life raft salvaging their beer"-captions.

At 6:26 PM , Blogger josh williams said...

mone: Yes, I think a number of people thought this way but few lacked the courage or more importantly the credentials to have the book published.

zen: Yes I had to post something new. I recognize your obsession/healthy distraction with captions. It was cruel of me to leave the post up so long, it had so many gimme captions that it proved to me that it takes more talent to create a caption from an obvious illustration or photo than required for a simple pencil sketch of a burnt match laying next to a Zippo lighter.

Zen:I reread my post. You have a great point, I think most family's can statistically have 2 children per household, the population would decrease because of death and other things that kill you.
I do not have children, I do not like the idea of my terrific self dieing off, but so will everyone else's given time, and time is faster than the speed of light.
I propose and I of course loose all debates, yet I come back to the ring.
Have two biological children, if you want more adopt. Again this is opinion if you really love everyone then when you adopt you might understand you love this child as if it where blood.
So if it is a child of your loins then you are fully responsible. If you have two children you are fully responsible. If you adopt a child or children you are fully responsible.

If all of the children turn out bad, then maybe its your fault. But success may only be if half of your hybrid brood talk to you after 25 years. If you have half your family talking to you after 25 years well then you are a good parent. Unless of course you are bribing the chief of statistics.

All proceeds from this response will be used for responsible stuff

At 12:06 AM , Blogger Cléa said...

In Cléa country, they pay couples a bonus when they reproduce. Else they rely on immigration.


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