Reality Blind - Vol. 1

remove sea creatures to the point of depletion. If restored to life, Malthus – clearly no dummy – would take one look at this situation and go “oh” or perhaps “egad!” o r something stronger, but his study of the modern situation would in no way invalidate his thesis. Why not? Because his thesis was based on the fact that population increases geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32…) while food availability increases arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5...) This is true in a steady-state energy economy such as that which nearly always prevails. However, our tapping of fossil energy has caused food supplies to also increase geometrically for roughly the last two centuries, rather than levelling off, temporarily curtailing the Malthusian dynamic and allowing the population of humans and our livestock to balloon. This would be well and good for our species (if not others, which have faced many Malthusian catastrophes during the period when humans have appropriated the anachronistically- named “lion’s share” of earth’s living and nonliving resources) except for the “temporary” part of that curtailment. To wit: once food supplies stop increasing geometrically, we’re once again playing by Malthus’ rules with regard to poverty and starvation as features of the natural world order. Malthus has been scorned by scientists who should know better, citing the “green revolution” as an example of his failed perceptions while themselves ignoring the extraordinary and inherently-temporary nature of the energy and feedstocks which made it possible to induce enormous growth in the food supply, and thus terrestrial vertebrate biomass. TaaL: Malthus was a wise, dare I say ‘sapient’, English human. He simply noted that humans, like other animals, enjoy both eating and having sex. He combined these 2 observations with a 3 rd – that the planet, its resources, and carrying capacity are finite, and the inferences were a bit too much for his contemporaries, and thus Malthus has been much maligned in your culture. Note that the effect he was concerned with occurs during steady -state times as a natural consequence of life’s attrition. Over -reproduction, high mortality, and poverty at the margins are tools of every animal’s gene agenda, the default strategy of life. The situation now is that you’re somewhere near the inflection point between food supplies increasing geometrically for the better part of two centuries and decreasing geometrically back to a steady state. In other words, a situation whose implications would presumably cause Malthus to swoon, and Darwin to once again patiently point out – to a self-congratulatory species with glorious expectations and shrinking brains - that evolution has no particular destination in mind.


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