Population, Living Standard, Political Freedoms

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've yet to get a plausible answer to the following query, regardless of y2k.

Consider a system of only 3 variables:

Population, Decent Living Standard, and Political Freedoms

Population: we'll let 'P' stand for "several billion or more", 'p' is a few million.

Decent Living Standard: we'll let 'D' stand for at least the living standard of the average, say, rural or suburban Japanese family today, not extravagant by any means, but comfortable by historical standards. 'd' means current lower class Indian, Brazilian, or African standards (I know I'm painting with too broad a brush here).

Political Freedoms: we'll let 'F' stand for freedoms to do things like: reside where you wish, practice what business/trade you wish, own firearms, criticize authority, travel when/where you will, read what you want, etc. 'f' stands for a controlled political situation, as in 1970's East Germany.

With 3 binary variables, we have the usual binary math, 2 ** 3 possible situations:

I have never yet seen an optimistic explanation of the future, even without y2k, that takes ALL THREE variables into account, and can plausibly argue for: P,D,F. It just isn't possible. Either the population has to crash, or the living standard, or people's freedoms must be severly curtailed (or some combination of the above). There just isn't any realistic way out that I've ever seen. The ecological pressures are just too severe. Despite the nice things that the great people of movements like Permaculture in Australia have advocated, I believe it is too late for P,D,F. That means comfortable middle-class Americans hoping for "business as usual" on all 3 dimensions are in for a shock within one generation, regardless of y2k. Of course there'll always be local pockets of peace and plenty.

Counterarguments ?


-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 21, 1998



the only possible exception (which doesn't apply here in the U.S.) would be a monocultural society which would have inherently greater internal adhesion, though possibly actually being closer to f than F. In other words an Asian society such as China, which exists, and has existed historically as Pdf could continue to do so with very little change...of course that may be as much a factor of the cultural bias of this analytical tool as it is of the Chinese culture...


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), December 21, 1998.

RC, I don't understand. Your equation contains no time factor. How can it have any predictive capacity? Where does the "one generation" come from? IOW, the same argument could have been used 100 years ago. Yet, here we are P,D,F.

-- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), December 21, 1998.

P,D,F for only a brief period of "time." Of course that was your point, wasn't it, EG? When I see a proposal of this type, I tend to think in terms of "sustainable" for an indefinite period, barring natural catastrophe, much the same as I interpret Ehrlich's I=PAT to infer a sustainable condition. That's Impact = Population * Affluence * Technology. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." ---Kris Kristoferson

Anyone can metaphoricaly sell his father's farm and live like king, by neglecting his children's inheritence, as we have done these last few generations. This attitude is unthinkable in Iroquois and other Native cultures who make decisions based on their affect on the seventh generation. Protestation to the contrary notwithstanding, we don't even make decisions based on their affect on our children's children. Hell, not even on the effect they may have on ourselves. Witness Y2K.


"As population increases, individual freedom decreases."---Boyle's Law

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 22, 1998.

EG, perhaps it can't be fully quantified, even chronologically. But the point was as taken up by Hallyx.

The (ostensible) function of global free-market capitalism is optimization along the 'D' dimension. But this is, as the 'greens' and permaculturists point out, unsustainable, even with a population frozen at current levels, American consumer lifestyle level could not go global.

Then, the 'greens' proposals for ecotopia, yes, if everybody lives in a yurt and compost, perhaps a high population could be supported. Like you can have more deer than bears on a given acreage. However, the green types always elide a clear answer to one simple question:

Who's gonna keep 'em down on the farm ?

The only sustainable answer to this question involves loss of 'F'. Alternatively, once could readily imagine a high tech totalitarian regime with comfortable living for a very large, highly regimented population.

But there is no way to simultaneously achieve all 3. That's why from a global stand point, we're about to hit a wall at 2000 mph.

-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.


It's all local. That means you have alphabet soup at many levels, within miles of each other. Sort'a like now, only more basic for awhile.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 22, 1998.

RC, your query fits in rather well with the second law of thermodynamics, the Entrophy Law. The Entrophy Law says, (if I remember correctly) that all matter and energy in the universe is headed in one direction, from the available to the unavailable, from the usuable to the unusuable, from order to disorder and from disorder to chaos. Hello disorder--maybe chaos. Once called the supreme law of nature it applies to communications, science, psychology, etc.,

But for me, Hallyx mentioned the most attractive scenario for my small family. The Native American idea of staying on a sustainable piece of land, living low on the food chain and leaving something to the seventh generation. The farm, or food plot should always be provided for the next generation, especially now.

-- gilda jessie (jess@listbot.com), December 22, 1998.

RC and Hallyx,

I think I've been credited with more discernment here than is warranted. My intention was not to counter RC's argument, but merely to request the source of the prediction "in for a shock within one generation, regardless of y2k" Is this just a "feeling?" It simply does not follow from the formula. Beyond that I was not drawing any contrary conclusions.

Diane makes a good point, and, I guess that's my only point too; that a spectrum exists, which is a consequence of the division of labor. An individual decides on or finds an economic niche and lives within the P,D,F implications of that decision.

IMHO, this is one of those few qenuine instances where "thinking outside the box" has some meaning. The box has been defined by these three dimensions, but that should not set the limits on our viewpoint. Hence my question about the time element.

What are the "severe ecological pressures" and why are they a given? How many of these so-called pressures are population-induced, how many are actually natural processes or cycles (global warmnig? Ozone depletion?) and how many are nothing but vaporware?

The factors affecting/reducing D and F appear to be ideological rather than empirical.

-- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), December 22, 1998.

Sustaining both Population and Decent Living Standard relies on one major factor (many minor ones, but I think this one is key) -- cheap energy and other products from oil. Take away cheap oil, and all the rest collapses. Without y2k, without economic disorder, without any other outside influence, we are already facing a peak and subsequent decline in world oil production within the next ten years (re: Hubbert Curve), at the same time that the exploding economies/populations of emerging nations, especially India/China/Indonesia/Mexico, expect their own rapid rise in Living Standards. There is a coming collision between the expectations and demands of those burgeoning populations and the availability of cheap energy to meet those demands. The equation will get really interesting when that happens. We're already seeing a taste of it in the conflict over the Spratley (sp?) Islands among China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Phillippines. The only reason any of those nations is interested is the suspected oil reserves under the islands. The Phillippines and China went nose to nose just last month over them. ------------- Yes, I know oil is super cheap right now, but that is the result of geopolitics and overpumping creating a glut more than anything else. Think payback for keeping Saddam out of Saudi Arabia.

-- JDClark (yankeejdc@aol.com), December 22, 1998.

Point #1: I believe, for reasons documented exhaustively elsewhere, that current "slash and burn" global capitalism cannot be sustained.

Point #2: Though Greens, Permaculturists, Deep Ecologists, Diane, etc. talk about local, co-operative, low-impact, bioregional sustainable lifestyles, I believe they fail to think through the political implications of what they advocate. Tragically, there cannot be freedom under such forms of social organization. My question remains: Who's gonna keep 'em down on the farm, and by what means?"


-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

Elbo Grease wonders, "My intention was not to counter RC's argument, but merely to request the source of the prediction 'in for a shock within one generation, regardless of y2k' Is this just a 'feeling?'"

While this is a fair question, its directness and simplicity belie the indeterminism and complexity of the answer.

I have mentioned before that I resent Y2K insinuating itself into my concerns over the environment and the dangers inherent in our inappropriate relationship with the Earth. While Y2K can be adequately explained by a competent writer in a lengthy essay or a small book, "Earthcrisis," as I call it, is a monumental and variegated curriculum embracing many disciplines: biology, anthropology, oceanography, geology and other earth-sciences, as well as sociology, psychology and philosophy---yes, even religion and mythology.

Y2K is a simple technical problem with sociological implications. We can embroider it with intellectually interesting complication and obfuscation, but there it is. Anyone with intelligence and an ability to study can become familiar with the ramifications of Y2K in a relatively short time---as indeed most of us have. Environmental awareness, in all its onion-like layers, takes years of dedicated commitment to come to terms with all the incredible dynamic matrices of complexity and relationships. Nothing I can say here can shed more than a candles light on the subject. Suffice to say, "It is."

Many sincere environmental advocates, from Malthus to Muir to Ehrlich, have evaluated the evidence and concluded that we cannot indefinitely continue in this unsustainable enterprise we call Western civilization. So far, they have been proven wrong only in their assessment of the time-scale. Current techno-capitalists are pinning their hopes on genetics, renewable energy or fusion, and other theoretical but as yet unproved technology---much as previous generations of T/Cs relied, for their vision, on the Green Revolution and nuclear fission. So enraptured are they by the apparent short-term successes, they dont seem to realize the long-term failure of these technologies, and the implications this has for their faith in future technology. Just another example of the shortsighted myopia of our immediate-gratification cultural focus.

If one picture is worth a thousand words, that picture may be the one shown on the title page of Jay Hansons website at: ( http://www.dieoff.org ). This appalling graph should generate a thousand questions in the minds of most thinking feeling people. The beginnings of many of the answers are there on Jays site as well. My recommendation is to read "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn and/or "Earthdance" by Elisabet Sahtouris, which is available online at: ( http://www.ratical.org/lifeweb/ ). This is where I was introduced to the philosophical overview which enlightens my interpretation of the scientific evidence. Remember, its much more complicated than anything to which we have been exposed in the context of Y2K.

Then again, it may all be moot. Y2K is real. Interpretation of the effects and chronology of "Earthcrisis" are based on extrapolation of current trends. Many of those trends are about to be modified by changes due to Y2K. It may be that our mad scramble to survive and recover might exacerbate certain environmental problems to the detriment of our continued survival. You pays yer money....


"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance." ---Cowboy's Guide to Life

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 22, 1998.

"Who's gonna keep 'em down on the farm, and by what means?"


Weve ducked your question. (Its not an easy one.) And it goes beyond the consideration of most of the alternative social-organization fora that Ive monitored. As Diane, JD and others here may attest, most of those discussions orbit around organizational models of a "neo-tribal" or "community" order. The reason may be that those of us who subscribe to this paradigm see few examples of top-down civilizations which have not ultimately destroyed their resource base and collapsed. That includes Ur and the Mesopotamian civilizations, Egypt, Rome, several Chinese dynasties and, eventually, it appears, the Western model.

Failing other examples, its hard to envision another way of organizing to feed and protect our species than somewhere along the continuum between tribal and civilization. But discover it we must, whether by plan and design or under the duress of social or environmental crisis.

At least now I better understand your P,D,F analog. In tribal culture, one had the responsibility of caring for the clan, just as your liver has the responsibility of caring for your bloodstream. Im sure, that if you exercised your freedom to not participate, you were free to leave---to join another tribe much like your own---or die, being unable to prosper without the support of your tribe.

Democracy (each having equal input into decision-making) and Socialism (each cares for all) were practiced within the tribe in a much purer form than the theoretical practices that those labels imply today. Generalizations of this nature are, of course, tenuous; not all tribes organized themselves the same way. This is my take on how it commonly worked, based on what research I have done and discussions Ive had.

Perhaps its a question of scale, as you have implied with your P,D,F analysis. When tribal organization flourished, population was relatively small, lifestyles were salubrious if not lavish (contrary to uninformed opinion), and freedom was not a survival characteristic. When P and D are large, as within civilization, f is necessarily smaller. That F appears large in our contemporary Western society, is an illusion based on unsustainable resource development. Its illusory also in that we are still free to participate or starve---more accurately, become marginalized; few actually starve. Most of our vaunted freedoms are of a mundane and inconsequential nature.

So in answer to your question. "How ya gonna keepem...?" You dont. If sociological diversity is encouraged, every person ought to be able to find a group or society to contribute to, which will also cherish that individual. Its only when larger groups seek to force their organization on others, that freedom is at issue.

Thats another thing that worries me about the afterglow of Y2K. Imagine Gary Norths tribe of religious reconstructionists, Paul Milnes libertarian cronies, Leo Champions Rand-y young capitalists and Dianes new-age pastoralists coexisting peacefully on this continent. Now multiply that by thousands, both here and around the world. Somehow, Ive got that Kristoferson tune in my head again. "Freedoms just another word"


"We are stardust. We are golden. We are billion-year-old carbon. And we've got to get ourselves back to the Garden."---Joni Mitchell

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 22, 1998.

Hallyx, re: Your Latest Reply.

  • exactamente
  • chyoudo ii
  • jiushi
  • you got it


    -- runway cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

  • RC,

    The political implications of what the sustainables advocate, are also just plain common sense. There can and will be freedom under such forms of social organization, think New England Town Hall meetings. Participation by the community members. All of us, Gary Norths tribe of religious reconstructionists, Paul Milnes libertarian cronies, Leo Champions Rand-y young capitalists and Dianes new-age (metaphysical) pastoralists, are familiar with the Founding Fathers vision of what this country could be. Our major challenge will be to coexisting peacefully on this continent. Interesting times ahead.

    My question to you, RC, is: Who's gonna keep 'em down on the farm, rural and sub-urban locations and by what means?" Probably only enough of them for the major urban areas, 120 cities. And they have families too.


    -- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 22, 1998.

    Diane, I fully agree with the green/permaculture hypothesis that we're burning up the planet with predatory capitalism. Great diagnosis. But what about the prescription ?

    In a bioregional, "low impact", sustainable society, either you let people move where they want, do what they want, etc., in which case after awhile you get something like today's global capitalism (at best), or, alternativley, you DON'T allow these freedoms, in which case you have a totalitarian society. I don't see any way between these extremes in the long run, that isn't based on unwarranted assumptions about the inherent niceness of people (especially men). -RMFD (realistic male felinus domesticus)

    -- runway cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

    There may be some sincere advocates of the conglomerate of international treaties, conferences, actions, and policies which can be euphemistically called "sustainable development." But the movers and shakers are anything but altruistic and environmentally concerned. They simply want to end up at the top of the heap. (of billions of dead human bodies.) Their objectives are totalitarian control and their motivations are genocidal on a heretofore unconceived scale. Evidence is beginning to leak that AIDS was engineered and seeded into the African population, and that the policies in this country regarding the disease were not due to homophobic issues but to ensure it gained a secure foothold outside of Africa. The influence of these people on our own government may go a long way toward explaining the deafening silence on the Y2K problem. I'm not saying the Y2K bug was engineered. But from their standpoint, allowing the problem to run its course dovetails nicely with their goals.

    -- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), December 22, 1998.

    Elbow Grease,

    The deafening silence on the Y2K problem, is not all that silent and wont be hidden much longer. Their goals may become flip flopped just like recent developments in Washington. Clinton, et. al. may think they can control Y2K, but frankly, its already way out of their hands.

    I dont even remotely think that some of the really silent them dont have that end up at the top of the heap plan. Problem is without electricity, their plans are toast. Even with selected brownouts and major inconveniences, the global data gobbeldy gook interchanges are likely to mess up the records for years. For all intents and purposes it may seem like time has stopped. A major sea- change in how we live, work and do business on this planet is just around the corner, and counting down.

    Communities and determined people can work around a total change in lifestyle. If the duration is only one to six months, peoples lives are still changed forever. My hope is that the whole Y2K experience can somehow fundamentally change people into recognizing what is valuable and what is not. (Make lemonaid when handed lemons). Recognition may also dawn that handing over control and personal power to a governemnt that is helpless to help in a true emergency, is ultimately a lesson about taking back our lives. Just say No, enmasse, works for drugs as it does for heartless controllers. Especially when their pants are down. They cant control us if we wont let them. Period. Y2K may well be a great equalizer. My focus is still seeing that as many little people make it through as possible. That, we can control and impact.

    I also think a good many people will face their fear of death. That can be a life-altering experience. So many interwoven Y2K factors will determine if there is actually mass dying, or not. I do know, we will never be the same, but we can choose to be better, or not. Many people will certainly be faced with thinking about their lives, and the dependencies weve subscribed to.

    RC, either you let people move where they want, do what they want, etc., in which case after awhile you get something like today's global capitalism (at best), or, alternatively, you DON'T allow these freedoms, in which case you have a totalitarian society?

    WE decide what we choose to create. Local economies based on bartering and locally created or grown items is what is most probable. People always move about. Always have, always will.

    Nothing and no one will change that for an extended period of time.


    -- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 22, 1998.


    The deafening silence thing was hyperbole.

    >>I dont even remotely think that some of the really silent "them" dont have that "end up at the top of the heap" plan. <<

    Your double negative was deliberate? Question: If you control governments and possess assets in the billions, is it impossible for you to prepare a cozy little Y2K compliant, generator powered, pantry-stuffed hideaway until the carnage is over?

    What I'm saying is that there are bigger issues than Y2K. For many people, if Y2K don't get 'em, sustainable development will.

    -- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), December 22, 1998.

    Diane, you make a forceful and eloquent case. The most optimistic view of political freedoms under a sustainable economy/society that I am aware of was provided by William Ophuls in his essay The Politics of the Sustainable Society, quoted below. While his is a very optimistic view, I believe that even the limited encroachments on traditional rights that he describes would be simply unacceptable to a significant portion of the population. As soon as that is the case, you finally come between a rock and a hard place, as I've outlined above in this thread. I admire Ophuls for explicitly recognizing the issue (which most "sustainable society" people simply do not), but I am unpersuaded by his analysis.

    Choose any 2 of: (P, D, F).


    Indeed, the great political virtue of the frugal society is that, even though we must accept certain restrictions, we can in principle retain most of our cherished liberties. For instance, there is absolutely no reason why a frugal society cannot be a constitutional polity in which all the key civil rights are upheld. What is not possible in a frugal society is a free-for-all system of wealth-getting and unrestricted property rights. Thus, although citizens can be made secure in their political liberty and in the ownership of their personal possessions or means of livelihood in a well-ordered frugal state, they probably cannot be allowed to use private property as captical, except in the most restricted fashion, or to treat land and other basic resources as commoditites divorced from their critical ecological and environmental role. So, certain rights that we now enjoy will indeed have to be given up. But once we self-consciously adopt limits forthe good of the whole and posterity, we would readily discover many humane yet effective means for operating a society of moderation and self-restraint. Provided only that we accept the concept of self-imposed limits and plan to optimize our political values within those limits, nothing politically necessary for a full and dignified life need be yielded up."

    -- Runway Cat (runway_Cat@hotmail.com), December 22, 1998.

    RC - you know perfectly well what variable you left out - the most powerful variable in the equation. Why are you baiting people?

    The missing variable is the growth of technology. This has been proven so many times that I blush to mention the obvious. Example - if we can dig our mines 1% deeper every ten years - we won't run out of metals for many thousands of years. If we tap the natural gas in the dissolved water under the Gulf of Mexico - and turn off every other power source in the US - we can run the country for more than 1000 years on this alone. Moreover we happen to live between two enormous nuclear reactors - the Sun and the core of the Earth - and the energy given off by either would run us forever. Running out of energy or resources - utterly impossible. And pollution - we can take apart any molecule and reduce it to its elements - it requires only the political backbone to do it. Now running out of brains worrys me ------

    -- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), December 22, 1998.

    Paul, yep, that's the big 'T' that everybody uses to mock the original "doombrooder" Malthus. For the sake of argument, I was accepting the green/permaculture stance that accelerating tech advance will lead only to diminishing returns. This could certainly be argued. There's a question as to what level of population, with what degrees of political freedom, is minimally required to support the elaborate and expensive sci/tech advances you've postulated. Notice your 'escape hatch' is radically different from Diane's vision, as it seems to call for highly complex, fully centralized mangerial and investement structures. Like Red Mars...

    ??? Hope it all works out one way or another, if not, well...

    "Today's as good a day as any to die." -Billy Jack

    -RC (let's see, do I need ANOTHER 20-rnd mag for the AR-10 ?)

    -- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 23, 1998.

    Paul Davis, I agree completely with you. In fact, last night I was talking (well, my gf was.. I just started the conversation) with some people, uni students, about the viability of using the earth's core for power. Apparently we have the technology to (in theory) do so NOW, just that nobody's implemented it.

    Mr Cat, it is corporations who have built up our current technology and capitalists who shall extend it. Why do we need government to force us to do something beneficial to ourselves? If power costs get high enough that building an earth-core generator would be profitable, then someone will build an earth-core generator (taking in mind the financial risks involved in ANY new invention).

    Hallyx, I am a libertarian whose "faction", if you will, would get along quite happily with Milne's libertarians. And Diane's, for that matter- everyone has the right to do as they like as long as it doesn't hurt others. As for the North faction, if they want to live frugalist Christian lifestyles, they're allowed to. Of course, if they want to impose their beliefs on others..THAT'S what I'd fight. But if they kept to themselves, or behaved like Mormons with virtually their own state (where they can have whatever laws they like, so long as people are free to leave if they want) then good for them.


    -- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 23, 1998.

    "everyone has the right to do as they like as long as it doesn't hurt others."

    That's a nice theoretical bottom line for me to digress from, Leo. Problem is not everyone has the intelligence, insight or knowledge to know if their actions are indeed hurting someone else. And that's crediting them with a moral character that even acknowledges that they care. "Everything," says computer expert, Tom DeMarco, "is deeply intertwingled." No one has enough altitude to see all the interconnections. Is that not the root problem of Y2K?

    So, in order to ensure that we are not hurt by others' freedom to do as they wish, we institute top-down organizations of enforcement which also protect us from others' immoral or ammoral intent. Of course concentrating power assures corruption. so this still conforms to the current paradigm, and ensures that any restructuring will be along the same disastrous lines as now.

    Sorry, if my referring to Daniel Quinn bores or offends anyone here, but "Ishmael" has proposed other ways of looking at things. In fact, his central message is that we're trapped in our predicament _because_ of the way we look at things---by the "stories" we tell, the mythology we live. Change the stories, insists Quinn, and you change the way we relate to each other and the world.

    So, while I value Paul's, Leo's and others' faith in the two technological birds in the bush, it is exactly that faith in technology, exempt consideration for the planet, that has lead us to these dire straits.

    Until it is understood, vicerally, emotionally, philosphically and metaphysically, 1)that we are a "part" (only a part) of the process; 2)that we indeed have a personal responsibility to ourselves and our planet---even when this runs counter to any perceived personal freedoms; 3) that it is the height of intellectual hubris to think that we can "manage" this planet better that it is currently being self-mananged---until we know these things in our guts, what is our incentive to change?

    Unless we see the bars of this "Enlightenmement" cage in which we're trapped, we'll never even look for a way out. We'll continue to blindly worship technology as a religion, even in the face of evidence that it will ultimately spell our demise.

    The key that will release us from this cage is our "stories." And, until we tell and live different stories, all of our discussions will be about superficial programs. Without changed minds, we will continue down the same road, the road that leads to the cliff of extinction. In that sense, ironically, Y2K _is_ just a bump in the road.


    "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." ---W. Edwards Deming

    -- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 23, 1998.

    You know, although its always obscured by a lot of technologicalese, Paul Davis probably has more mystical new age type faith than anyone! We are about to go down the tubes, and he thinks that there is going to be ANY hope for technology? Nuts!!!!!

    -- King of Spain (madrid@aol.com), December 23, 1998.

    Well, Paul's earlier posts are about the "hardest" and most senisible of ANY polyanna I've read yet. And technology has done a lot for humanity. But ultimately my problem with technology is not what Hallyx said (though I completely agree with him on the points he made), it is the even BIGGER problem: i.e. that while technology initially seems to liberate us, it ends up enslaving us. To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton's comment about sex:

    "As soon as it ceases to be a slave, it becomes a tyrant. There is no possibility of it walking beside you, as a friend."

    Thus, if y2k DOESN'T bring down the technocracy, you can expect Brave New World, or 1984, or The Machine Stops.

    -runway felinus domesticus, rfd, rc.

    -- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 23, 1998.

    Depending on the severity of y2k which at this point is unknownI see P going to p and D going to d and F an unknown factor. If the preparers I see on these boards are the survivors then F will stay F.

    Who will keep them down on the farm? I guess hunger will for a good while.

    -- Sue (deco100@aol.com), December 27, 1998.

    Elbow Grease, If Y2K don't get 'em, sustainable development will. Say what? Its just sensible. Simple, once were all forced to look at the issue.

    RC, certain rights that we now enjoy will indeed have to be given up. Why? Entrepreneurism has worked for millennia. Rather than accepting a concept of self-imposed limits, Id rather see us choose self-imposed responsibilities in an unlimited way. Responsibility = Ability to respond.

    Leo, if you want to make your monetary mark, look to solar power. No one owns it. The savvy business persons opportunities are unlimited.

    The use of technology depends upon the intention of the human/humane user. With Y2K, it illustrates that our technology got ahead of our ability to use it wisely. Maybe, well learn. Maybe well create more positive stories for the future generations to recall about us and how we choose to respond to our current challenges.


    -- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 27, 1998.

    Paul Davis,

    Two points:

    1) Dissolved water?

    2) The core of the Earth is believed to be a solid metallic mass. There is no nuclear reactor at the Earth's center, though there is a liquid magma band (existing at far below nuclear temperatures) between the Earth's core and mantle. If there were a nuclear reaction occuring under our feet, there certainly wouldn't be any crust on which organic life could have evolved.

    Still, you are essentially correct. Given enough money and technological advancement, the ongoing needs of the world at current population levels are not insurmountable.

    However there are both problems with, and limits to, what one can rationally hope to achieve in this regard. Some would say we are already living well beyond our "money" (witness the massive global debt overhang). And the case may well be made that our ability to safely and widely disperse/utilize the technology we have already developed has outstripped our species' rate of intellectual evolution.

    Technology can help, but it is nearly as likely to toast/poison our lttle spaceship one of these days. At best (or worst!), technology is mankind's latest and greatest saviour, yet our real "problems" are far beyond the techno-Messiah.

    P,D,F or p,d,f? F is open to interpretation, D is a matter of perception, and the Earth itself limits P. Optimize for a responsible version of F, and the other two will align themselves in proper balance. Lose enough of F and the other two become unsustainable at current levels.

    -- Nathan (nospam@all.com), December 28, 1998.

    Diane says:

    >>Elbow Grease, "If Y2K don't get 'em, sustainable development will." Say what? Its just sensible. Simple, once were all forced to look at the issue. <<

    I guess I must spell it out. "Sustainable development" from the current level of world population is *impossible*. INFOMAGIC's argument applies. So the question is: How do we get from 6 billion people to a base population level from which to build sustainable development? The answer is neither sensible nor simple.

    -- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), December 28, 1998.

    EG, I think that's right. The way to get there is that most of those 6 billion are going to have to die "before their time". Natural processes are fully y2k compliant. Most of the surplus population (including myself) are aliens on our own planet, already cyborgs, made of oil and plastic (in terms of our life support requirements). This applies to both 1st world and 3rd world countries (cf. green revolution).

    Though as the ultimate weed species, humans will not disappear, and will be sharing the planet with rats and roaches for eons to come.

    Too bad. Oh well, as Socrates pointed out, we don't know that it isn't nicer on the other side.


    -- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 28, 1998.


    Nothing is "impossible" if we make it a priority. Seems they once said that about going to the moon, etc.

    Food, Water, Shelter, Heat. Very basic. Has to be implemented at local levels. Help comes from everywhere. Again, IF, we, and the other nations of the world, choose to make it a priority. Big "if," I know.


    -- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 28, 1998.

    RC, for me I know it'll be nicer on the other side. Can't wait! Meanwhile slogging thru physical earth to the best of ability, velly velly careful to try to do it right enough not to have to come back to this side :) Whee Heee, makin' my escape!

    xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx

    -- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), December 28, 1998.

    Y'know Leska, I feel the same way you do about escaping this vale of tears. But my political instincts won't let me evade the question, in this world or the next: who's got the authority to "make us come back", so that we have to be so vewy vewy careful anyway ? Might makes right ?

    Oops! TOO far off topic!


    -- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 28, 1998.


    You are so right, if you ignore, or reject the big T of the equation. Paul Davis put his finger on the missing factor, and I agree with his insight. However, it was necessary to follow the implications of your P,D,F equation to its ultimate conclusion first. That conclusion is Genocide.

    So, Diane,

    Drop everything else. How do you provide Food, Heat, Water, Shelter for 6 billion people? How do you get to the moon without T?

    -- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), December 28, 1998.

    The Sun God, of course. The bright light you "see" when you're having a NDE. Notice how much hassle the Egyptians avoided by accepting this simple fact.

    -- Lisa (you@didit.now), December 28, 1998.

    RC, your soul instincts to question are right on! Question, ponder, think, seek, demand.

    "O Spiritual Eye, ever guide me, that I avoid ego detours as I travel toward the Palace of Peace.

    On the winding roads of consciousness may I timely see and escape from bold highway robbers: greed, selfishness, disregard of law.

    O Omniscient Light Within! show me the solutions to all problems of life.

    -- Paramahansa Yogananda

    Ashton mmmmmmm mmmmmmm mmmmmm

    -- Ashton (allaha@earthlink.net), December 28, 1998.

    I think Hallyx, quoting Boyle's law above, was referring to the following type of analysis, and this is part of what I meant with the original claim that P,D,F cannot be jointly optimized at a high level, regardless of T/t:

    - More Population = Less Freedom

    "Americans should realize that population growth, in and of itself, contributes tremendously to limiting individual freedoms. Small, underpopulated areas need far fewer regulations than overcrowded metropolises. As numbers grow, new rules become mandatory. Laws must be passed to determine speed limits; zoning regulations become necessary; environmental regulations are imperative. This is a basic aspect of population growth -- the more people in any given space, the more regulations are needed to regulate social behavior." (Leon Bouvier: No Further Population Growth, an NPG Special Report, September 1997.


    -- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 28, 1998.

    There's a computer game I play called Total Annihilation. It's a strategy game in which the idea is to build units and destroy the other player/s. To build those units, you use power (which comes from power plants, which you can build anywhere) and metal (which comes from mines, which have to be built over metal deposits). There are two levels of mine (the 2nd costs a lot more than the first) and 3 of power (production values, 30/350/1200). There's also a nice little thing called a metal maker, which converts power to metal at a value of 60 units to 1.

    Many or most players I deal with -it's a popular game- believe that the maximum production is limited by something, the lack of mines. That in order to increase production, they have to secure more territory on which to build and keep mines.

    I say production is unlimited. You build power plants and metal makers. It's less efficient per-unit to get metal than the initial way, but it DOES enable me to achieve metal production levels of 200+ when the people I'm playing against get 50-75 at best. Meaning that if I can keep this infrastructure up long enough to use it for production, I can hit the enemy with the equivalent of several divisions of elite units.

    Of course, it takes a long time to build that carrying capacity- and to spare the resources to get it up, I have to build a minimum of defensive units.

    And even when it's up and I'm rapidly building the best possible defenses I can use to keep it up, if I leave a gap -insufficient anti-aircraft, for instance- and he gets something through that gap and takes out ONE of my fusion plants, I'm in major trouble -firstly because fusion plants make big explosions and take a lot of other stuff with them, and secondly because a lot of other productive stuff is relying on power from that plant. A player less dependent on such an "artificially" high level of production, would definitely be set back by the loss of a fusion plant but it would be on the level of a big nuisance, not a potential catastrophe.

    ..probably an irrelevant metaphor, but anyway.. ;)

    -- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 28, 1998.


    We have workable T for the next year. Limping T after that.

    One FOOD solution is pretty simple: Turn the planet back into a garden, of the vegetable kind. Everywhere. On rooftops, patios, in containers, in parks, in community gardens, etc. It means you also need a stored food supply -- rice, beans. et. al. -- to carry a group through harvest.

    WATER solutions: Depends on the area. May require population shifts. Aqueducts, rain water in cisterns, wells, creeks, streams, rivers, distillation and purification from moisture content in air -- use DRIP irrigation for plant growth. (Requires more investigation).

    SHELTER solutions: Are not up to code but tents, tee-pees and urts work. All currently standing structures will likely still be standing unless impacted by natural disaster or fire.

    HEAT solutions: Warm clothes and blankets for starters. Needs more investigation for solar, geo-thermal alternatives. The eskimos and laplanders may have interesting ideas for the snowbound. Warmer climates are less problematic. Increase the Canadian Goose population for more down beds as a by-product? Sheep for wool. Hemp for warm clothing. Bamboo is fast growing too (good for shelters too).

    For every problem, there is a solution, somewhere in this very big, wide world.

    Diane, searching for solutions

    -- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 28, 1998.

    I sure like the way this thread is drifting and evolving. But Im a little confused. I thought EG or Leo or Paul were supposed to ponder engineering alternatives, RC and I were supposed to shoot them down, and Diane was supposed to provide the encouragement and justification for balance. Shows how close were thinking when we can play nearly interchangeable roles.

    That was a very insightful contribution on defining terms, Nathan. Welcome to the thread. Leska and Ashton, welcome also. Your viewpoint has, as always, much more altitude than mine. It seems that many of you agree that Y2K is a real wildcard in the development of this environmental endgame were playing. And it is approaching the end of our 10,000 year old experiment of thinking and living outside the natural box. A good author would not have introduced this plot complexity this late in the denouement. Y2K just clutters up the climax.

    Id like to try to run with Sue and Nathans ball for a paragraph or two. D, lifestyle or standard of living, is what our society has enculturated us think it is. What are its components? Longevity, for its own sake, irrespective of quality of life is only a subjective value. Right L&A? And its related benchmark, health, while more quantifiable, is still relative. The value of leisure is a matter of individual opinion---as is work, beyond achieving survival, imho. So the continuum, D to d, is a subjective criteria based on the social consensus.

    P to p, in an ideal rational world, would be determined by whatever values of D and F a culture favors. We as a species are not that mature; our cart precedes our horse. Because our technology has allowed us to temporarily overcome most of our traditional checks to growth (predators and disease), it appears as if we are a lemming-like or mold-like organism, destined to outgrow our carrying capacity then crash. The sad part is having the intelligence and insight to understand alternatives. Nonetheless, like a tragic Greek hero, we carry the seeds of our own destruction in our character.

    Freedom is the least quantifiable and most subjective factor in this equation. Does voluntarily trading liberty for responsibility constitute loss of freedom? Are there more important constituents of personal satisfaction than merely the ability to do as one chooses? We abrogate our freedom daily in a thousand ways, large and small, in the interest of furthering the fitness of our society and by extension, our species. Its never been otherwise that I can see. Its part of human nature.

    We here all understand that what I mean by "fitness" is literally the ability to "fit" within the pattern of the universe, to embellish and compliment the design, not to paint it over with broad brush-strokes in one human color. Perhaps that will be a defining schism between the organic-paradigm new-age artists and the clockwork-universe Enlightenment engineers.


    "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."---Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    -- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 28, 1998.

    Malthus was, at very least, a realist. I hesitate to get into a discussion about the major religions and governments of the world that cheerlead increasing populations with utter nonsensical discussions of "progress" leading to increased sustainability. They are not listening to the scientists,..to the biologists, geologists, horticulturists, marine ecologists....but of course, it is not expedient to do so, is it. And they'll have to over-rule and refuse the money-making developers, won't they? Not in their best interests as politicians whose business is to keep politicians in business.

    -- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), December 28, 1998.

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