Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Leveling the Playing Field of Death

[En français]

In April 2015, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as two million. However, Nafeez Ahmed begs to differ, writing that western wars have killed four million or more Muslims since 1990.

It seems that the Empire is exterminating Muslims at a higher rate than those of other confessions. Why might that be? There seem to be two competing philosophies at work within the throbbing brain of the Empire: the environmentally hostile, infinite growth-oriented, natalistic view of economists, and the eco-friendly, Malthusian, population-control view of ecologists.

Neoclassical economists are infinite growth advocates, and many of them are natalists, wholeheartedly promoting ever-faster reproduction of everything. They dominate all the university economics programs in the US, as well as the Wall Street financial institutions who operate the US government as a wholly owned subsidiary. So you might think they would dominate the Empire too, in which case you might be right. But natalism and population control are just different sides of the same coin—not!—so how do we reconcile this?

The cornucopian economist Julian Simon wrote a book called The Ultimate Resource, in which he advocated unlimited human population growth for the advantage of increasing the number of human minds, which he called “the ultimate resource.” He claimed that the earth could support population growth for another 4 billion years—the current age of the planet. But the Empire doesn’t seem to be following this plan.

In stark contrast to such cornucopian visions, in the 1960’s the ecologist Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, in which he predicted massive starvation due to overpopulation. His prediction didn’t come true thanks to the “Green Revolution” (fossil fuel-based fertilizers applied to monoculture cultivation of cash crops). Then the developed countries blamed the developing countries for threatening to destroy the planet through their high birth rate. The developing countries countered that the developed countries are destroying the planet through their high resource consumption rate, which far exceeds that of the developing countries on both a per-capita and a total basis. The developed countries didn’t have an obese leg to stand on, and the population argument collapsed. Since then, population control has been a taboo subject—laced as it is with ethnocentrism, hypocrisy, and possibly even haunted by the ghost of eugenics.

But then in the 1970s the Empire struck back. The Rockefeller-led Trilateral Commission, in a plan called the New World Order (NWO) has been planning to reduce the world population to just 1 billion people implanted with micro-chips, like cattle and pets, and controlled by a cabal of elite bankers. According to the late film producer Aaron Russo, they openly admit this. So, apparently the Trilateral Commission agrees with the ecologists, not the economists. Oops!

Now if we assume that the Trilaterals are the actual, secret ruling class of the Empire (because why not?), then this would help explain the rationale behind the Empire's Muslim Extermination Program (MEP). You see, according to new population figures from the Pew Research Foundation, on a percentage basis, only Muslims are increasing their share of the total population of believers. By 2050 Muslims will increase it from 23.2 to 29.7% of world population. The numbers of Christians, Hindus and other believers will stay constant or decline. It seems that Muslims have the highest fertility rate: 3.1 children per woman. In addition, some offshoots of Islam, such as the so-called Islamic state, are in the habit of killing “infidels,” potentially making the numbers even worse. So non-Muslims appear to be at a disadvantage in the population race.

Here’s where the neoconservative psychopaths who control US foreign policy come into their own. It would seem that the one billion people left in the NWO might end up being mostly Muslim—unless the Empire intervenes. The US “founding fathers” were mostly Deists and were adamant about the wall of separation between church and state, but they are long dead. Now, the fundamentalist Christians who dominate the Republican party have been quite successful in tearing down this wall. Being not at all well versed in much of anything, they claim that the long-dead founders obviously meant to create a Christian government. Therefore it behooves the neoconservatives, who are Christian and Jewish Zionists, to work hard to even the playing field among world religions, vying to be the majority among the last one billion people left when the NWO is implemented.

And so they must be thinking thoughts such as the following. Whoever has the biggest population to start with is likely to win the game. The purpose of government is to create a level playing field for the free market of ideas—preferably, their ideas. Therefore, the US government, as the world's policeman and ultimate arbiter of fair play, has decided that Islam has an unfair advantage in the population competition, due to their high birth rate, not to mention their nasty habit of slaughtering infidels. In their minds, this makes massacring four million Muslims since 1990 only fair.

However, this is not the least bit fair in the minds of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have vowed to avenge their dead. The psychopathic drive to exterminate Muslims is bound to result in significant blow-back. It is possible to work out modes of peaceful coexistence, where Muslims, Christians and Atheists—all of them politically moderate and socially conservative—peacefully coexist within the same state. For examples, look at modern-day Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and other Muslim republics within the Russian Federation. But the neocon-dominated US, and their accomplices in Europe, have undermined their chances of becoming members of this peaceable and prosperous club. Instead, they have embarked on a path of intolerance, extremism and revenge. This strategy is self-defeating, criminal and, to put it in the plainest terms possible, downright stupid.

Contributed by Gary Flomenhoft exclusively for ClubOrlov


Jeff Lovejoy said...

Essentially, what might pass for a pretense of upholding the separation of church and state is really just the politically correct brotherhood telling the Muslim brotherhood to stay on their side of the street.

However, as is the case with most organized religions throughout time, the Muslims are clearing a path on both sides of the street -- the state be damned -- creating a super highway of sorts -- paved with terrorism, jihad, and a kind of re-enforced paternalism commonly associated with the AK-47, a woman's head, and soccer stadiums. All supported by murder incorporated.

The continued, unceasing and murderous attacks by the government of the United States carried out against a woman's right to choose and Planned Parenthood are just America's version of the Muslim soccer stadium.

Even though the state has used religion many times for exactly the same purposes; these crusades, holy wars (so-called) have not been able to compete with true marvels of wanton carnage, like The Inquisition. But with the likes of the Patriot Act and Political Correctness and the Media, the civilized world is getting there.

Expect to see death every where as both the church and the state go on a killing spree.

Sam Holloway said...

One major caveat to offer this essayist: the 'Islamists' to whom you refer may claim they want to convert or eradicate infidels, but they primarily wind up slaughtering other Muslims. So their effect on the balance of population growth is negligible in that regard. More fundamentally, such extremists exist largely as proxies for Western geopolitical interests, though it's understood that they generally don't follow marching orders per se, due to the loose cables of control necessary for the maintenance of plausible deniability among Western taxpayers.

In other words, the 'clash of civilizations' is not so much between the secular/Christian/Zionist West and the recalcitrant Muslim East. The clash is more a self-immolating schizophrenic internecine free-for-all amongst the catastrophic and fatal contradictions of the post-Enlightenment West.

The West's mad Islamist golems and Eastern/Southern puppet dictators are manifestations of this insanity, not external opponents. They consistently help to create exponentially more suffering among hapless workaday Muslims in the East/South than they do among the privileged, paranoid, and bigoted consumers of the West (who fund them).

That said, it's my estimation that the Western powers-that-be are less concerned with population growth than with control over whatever numbers may exist. Pursuit of either such brand of control, given the evident natures and methods of the powers in question, is proving to be apocalyptic folly. I suppose we wind up in the same place, then.

Jim R said...

Well, that was different.

Could have substituted the Yankee industrialists vs the civilized folks in Dixie and the War of Northern Aggression. Or any of a number of other big upheavals.

On a meta-note, the RSS feed for Club Orlov has been silent for a while. Is this by design?

unfrozencavemanguitarplayer said...

I think Sam Holloway's analysis is much more accurate than the speculations of Mr. Flomenhoft in this article. The empire nurtures chaos and sectarian strife in these regions in order to prevent the populations from using peaceful democratic processes to control their own resources. In other words, it's all about the oil. These Muslims had the misfortune of living on top of great oil reserves, but not exploiting those reserves before the US could use their own once rich reserves to build the biggest empire and military machine the world has ever known.

Neanderthal Hybrid said...

Regarding population reduction, has no one done the math? To get to a population of 1 billion from the current circa 7.3 billion population would require excess deaths over births of a 100 million people a year for 63 years. That would be 8.3 million people a month for 63 years. The numbers are actually worse than that as there is currently a natural increase of 75 million people a year. So you really need to kill or abort an additional 175 million people a year or 14.6 million a month

The murder of 4 million people in the ME wars since 1990 is barely more than the work of a week and a thousandth of the death rate required for the Trilateral dream. We might eventually see a genuine population reduction program, but the ME wars have nothing to do with that.

pyrrhus said...

Well, as simple arithmetic will tell you, during the time that these few million muslims were slaughtered, tens of millions of children were born to muslim parents. So the campaign is a total, and very expensive failure. On the other hand, Yemen has hit the Malthusian wall and disintegrated, and almost every country in the Muslim world is a net food importer, so their time for (likely involuntary) population control is coming soon.....

pyrrhus said...

@Neanderthal Hybrid--More than 1000 square miles of farm land are being destroyed every year in China, and also in the USA. Countries like Brazil and Indonesia are burning down their jungles for 2-3 years of agricultural production. Fresh water aquifers are being depleted all over the world. The Scientific American reported a while back that the nutritional content of food had dropped 20% in the last 40 years......Ultimately, food will determine the world human population, as it determines the population of every species....Rev. Malthus has not left the room, he has only taken a smoking break...

onething said...

I'm really not sure that the Muslims would win the religiously motivated genocidal sweepstakes if we took count over the centuries. There's the crusades, the wipeout of most all the island peoples in places like Cuba and Haiti, the general massacres of the Spaniards in south America as well, white European behavior toward the Native Americans, and so on. And, while greed was probably the underlying motivation, it was all racially and religiously based, as was the African slavery episode. Heathen, savages, infidels. Perhaps there are more Muslims because they do better at converting rather than eliminating.

Nathan said...

Fundamental Christian Zionists have an agenda that requires the ascendancy of national Israel over all other nations, as a means to triggering their expected secret "pre second coming" rapture event where they get removed from this earth entirely, leaving the Jews to fight it out with the rest of the nations for between 3.5 and 7 final devastating years of Great Tribulation. Then the Christian Zionists believe they will return to the Earth with Jesus but in glorified immortal bodies that live forever, to enjoy a 1000 year millennial reign in which they will be princes on the Earth, seated in the literal city of Jerusalem. The rest of humanity still suffers sickness and death during this 1000 year period. The 1000 years ends with a resurrection from the dead of all non Christians, to face God's final judgement and be cast into the eternal lake of fire. Then the earth is remade in perfection.

So, these Christian Zionists don't have a longer term political view than assisting Israel to reclaim the original temple site (the present day dome on the rock Muslim mosque site), rebuild the Jewish temple and re-establish the Jewish Levitical cultic sacrificial rituals in order to trigger their own escape pod.

If the leaders of the NWO are in fact Christian Zionists, then the claimed goals of the NWO don't make sense.

Christian Zionism has its roots in the 19th century teachings of John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren, made widely popular during the 20th century by the publication of the Scofield Study Bible in the US which entrenched Darby's "Dispensationalist" views within many Christian denominations across the West. However, these views are not the majority view of Christians over the 2000 year history of Christianity.

I agree with the article's author that zealot combination of church and state is a cause of much strife. The clear teaching of the Bible's New Testament scriptures is that Christians are to submit to qualified church eldership in church matters, and to submit to civil authority in civil matters, so far as they are permitted without sinning, in an attempt to live peacefully and simply. The Bible clearly states that all civil authority is ultimately appointed by God, and is appointed for the purpose of justly wielding the sword to maintain law and order.

The church is not called to hold non-believers to the same standard as they hold themselves, but to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to these non-believers in the hope that some will believe. The church administers the ordinances Jesus instigated, which are the baptism in water of believers and regular observance of the Lord's Supper. Civil matters are beyond the purview of the church, although church members are obviously also citizens and have those civil rights in which to appeal and aim for godly conduct in all levels of civil government, as well as family government and church government.

rapier said...

If it wasn't for the oil........ The Saudi's brand of medieval Islam which they have spread instead of social and human development has been the the prime driver of all this. That said the US has been more than happy to allow it all.

It's forgotten now but for a brief moment Nixon toyed with the idea of taking over the Saudi oil fields during the first oil crisis. Such was probably impossible on a practical level and a political one but imagining that it had happened, in an alt history exercise, it's difficult to say the outcome would have been any worse than what has come to pass for the Arabic speaking Muslim world.

Anyway the Saudis agreed to pump most every barrel of oil possible and have done so for 40 years. A good two hundred years worth I'd say and so the American way of life, consumption consumption consumption and 'growth'was allowed to go on and on and on.

Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

Let's see if we can have a debate in here...

Julian Simon did not advocate unlimited population growth. He was mostly arguing against the considered opinion, popular at the time among the likes of Paul Ehrlich and assorted concerned seers, that it was already too late to save mankind from hunger. There was this opinion that starvation and disease was the only thing keeping in check the human population growth in most of the world, them darkies breed like varmint and germs, ya know. He defended the idea that there is more consideration given to the ability to raise kids in poor societies than are often given credit for, and also that humans were not solely useless mouths to feed, that more humans could also mean more brains to contribute to arts, sciences, and tackle problems.

Since the publication of "The Population Bomb", we have had decades to see who was right, who was wrong and the evidence is so lopsided there can be no contest. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over” wrote Mr Ehrlich. Well, nearly 50 years later, the world population more than doubled, and, all over planet Earth starvation has never been a more distant prospect for humans. No, actually, in a growing and not insignificant part of the world, the problem is not scarcity but an excess of food. You could read in "The Population Bomb" that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, tens of millions of which would be Americans. Odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.” Had Mr. Ehrlich written a book called "Lard-asses: 2000" describing a dystopian future of obese Americans dropping dead from their fat-obstructed coronaries, strokes or blinded by diabetes, that would have been clairvoyant. Excuse me if I'm not impressed with his envisioning Americans dropping dead from starvation by the millions.

If there is a secret cabal by elites who want to enregiment, control and enslave the global population according to their own whims and sinister agenda, maybe the culprits are not the likes of Julian Simon, who argued that things were not as gloomy as many feared and that if we'd just laissez-faire, people would probably gradually tackle and address problems as need arises. Those elites that have grandiose plans for mankind are more to be found on the Ehrlich side. Fertility rates have been falling over pretty much the entirety of the globe, falling below replacement levels in a lot of places. This was achieved without any need for policies advocated by the good doctor, such as forced sterilization of populations.

Howard Skillington said...

The notion of the Trilateral Commission waging war on Muslim nations so that the world population can be diminished to one billion and implanted with microchips is certainly entertaining reading, but I’m not sure it squares with the hierarchy of oligarchic priorities. For their entire strategy to be motivated by a particular animus toward certain groups would suggest that they value and feel loyalty for particular other groups, but a great deal of evidence suggests that they possess no loyalty whatsoever toward anyone or anything other than their portfolios.

We are, after all, talking about the sort of person who, already having more wealth than he could ever use, would choose to spend another late night in the office increasing that wealth, rather than attend his child’s soccer game, and would certainly rather watch the pixels on his spreadsheet form ever-higher numbers than use that extra money to save third world babies from starvation. Most non-oligarchs today agree that such people are, by definition, sociopaths.

Consider Ken Lay, who regarded undermining the economic foundation of public utilities and stealing old people’s retirement funds as reasonable means to the end of building his own fortune. Or Jamie Dimon, who has publicly informed members of the press that he’s richer than they are and, therefore, smarter. Or Lloyd Blankfein who, in betting against his own clients’ investments with insider information he did not share with them, was doing “God’s work.” Or Bernie Madoff, who preyed upon people who personally regarded him as trustworthy by virtue of his being part of their religious and cultural community.

These guys are not generals. They don’t need armies. In most cases they can prevail with algorithms and lawyers. If, as in the Middle East lately, they require boots on the ground to assert their will, they know who to call.

If destroying lives is an appropriate measure of evil, these creatures do orders of magnitude more damage than do serial killers. But they don’t much care whether their victims are devout Muslim Yemeni shepherds or red-blooded American factory workers.

To posit that the oligarchs are thinking “whoever has the biggest population to start with is likely to win the game” is to attribute to them a sort of long-term strategic intelligence which they have yet to demonstrate. After all, they are manifestly too damned stupid to see that their fortunes can’t survive without a middle class with the wherewithal to purchase products and a viable planetary ecosystem to sustain human life.

Yes, the real warlords running the show today – Corporatists - are deranged fools, but their insatiable greed outweighs any other values which they may or may not hold. Citibank and Monsanto, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton, the State Department and IMF are just their instruments, and their targets extend far beyond the Muslim world - to anyone, anywhere who still possesses wealth they do not yet control.

Gary Flomenhoft said...

I am always impressed by the level of discourse on this blog, except for those who don't realize this essay was satire. If it triggers intelligent discussion, then mission accomplished. You have provided excellent insights.

I will take Jean-Baptiste Moquelin's challenge:
I've read Simon's "Ultimate Resource" and he did in fact advocate unlimited population growth, at least for 4 billion years. That's a direct quote and pretty close to infinite. That said, you are correct that starvation in the world has never been due to a lack of food production. There is an over abundance of food, but not distribution. The cornucopians have been right up to now. I agree with your revulsion to coercive policies.

The natural decay rate of population growth is well understood according to the Demographic Shift of societies as they industrialize. However, it may not be enough. Exponential growth does not hit you until the very end.

After Ehrlich, a better model was made of human dynamic systems called the World3 model. It did not predict imminent starvation and overpopulation, in the 1970s but predicted overshoot and collapse in the first half of the 21st century. Its predictions and updates have stood the test of time, and been mostly right on track.

Ability of humans to innovate is underestimated by the ecological Cassandras. Ability to overcome the limits to growth is overestimated by the cornucopians.

And there we are.

Nathan said...

Gary Flomenhoft said: "After Ehrlich, a better model was made of human dynamic systems called the World3 model. It did not predict imminent starvation and overpopulation, in the 1970s but predicted overshoot and collapse in the first half of the 21st century. Its predictions and updates have stood the test of time, and been mostly right on track."

Yes, the Limits to Growth and subsequent calibrations of World3 have been carried on by Graham Turner of CSIRO in Australia. Actual data fits and verifies the accuracy of World3 quite closely. We're still headed for collapse in the first half of this century. Which is some time in the next 35 years. What World3 didn't seem to factor in is the distortion of global finances in the form of $57 Trillion in magicked up Sovereign debt to prop things up a little bit longer. But I suspect it'll end the same way.

Howard Skillington said...

Forgive me for hogging your forum this week, Dmitry, but the aroma of the fresh-baked pie Jean-Baptiste set out on the windowsill to cool is so tempting, I feel compelled to grab a piece.

To appreciate Julian Simon and his contribution to today’s world an old joke can be adapted to serve. It’s the one about the guy who falls off the top of a hundred story building. At first he’s scared, but after a few moments he starts to relax. By the time he gets down to about the tenth floor he’s thinking “So far, so good…”
Imagine that the earth is a gigantic old-fashioned apartment house, millions of stories high, housing a billion people. There’s no air conditioning and the apartments are hot and cramped, but there’s nowhere else available to rent, so people keep their windows open in summer, hang their laundry out on the fire escape to dry, and are conscientious about birth control, because they’ve only got one bedroom and a small sofa in the living room.

Some guy named Julian on the top floor has a huge bullhorn and he’s hollering so that we all can hear: “Hey! You guys are schmoes to stay cooped up in your apartments. We’re all clever, right? Let’s all jump. We’ll have plenty of space, and if any challenges ever present themselves, we’ll think of something.”

So Julian jumps, and as he falls he keeps hollering: “Look at me – this is great! I’ve got the world’s biggest air mattress, cool air blowing through my hair, and the view is wonderful. Jump. JUMP!”

So people start to jump, and for years and years nothing bad happens. Those in the upper floors start to see a steady stream of people plummeting past their windows, cackling with glee over the great choice they made. Many stop using birth control, ‘cuz when the apartment gets too crowded, the kids can jump, too.

Eventually people start to joke about that crackpot, Paul, who used to warn people not to jump.

Well, it gets to be 1998. The old apartment house is bursting at the seams, with billions of people leaping off the fire escape. The air is full of jumpers; they’re still all fine. And Julian, in the lead, gets grabbed by angels, who waft him away to Heaven. Julian is smiling. He was right all along.

So here we all are. Having taken Julian’s advice, we’ve exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the earth by maybe six billion people through clever trickery: depleting our topsoil and our aquafers and our petroleum reserves to grow genetically-modified crops with unsustainable amounts of water and chemical fertilizers. So far, so good.

Was Julian a fool? A villain? It doesn’t matter.

Thanks, Gary. I’m glad to know your essay was a satire.

Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Mr Flomenhoft.

I never read Simon as being an advocate for unlimited population growth. If you have quotes to back this up it could change my understanding of him, which is: "the people who are screaming that planet Earth is already running out of resources and incapable of feeding its human population, that mass starvation is imminent if not already among us and that therefore it is imperative to reduce the human population as fast as possible, by force if necessary, are WRONG. Besides, if you let people free to make choices, people might adapt their behaviour to circumstances, and it might turn out better than many Cassandras imagine. There are certainly a limit to human population growth, but I don't see any evidence that we are currently anything close to, or beyond that limit". This is not quite the same as saying: MORE is always good we need MORE, MORE, MORE HUMANS NOW!

Back in the 1960, the world fertility rate was nearly 5. Now it is around 2.36 and still going down. It is quite possible that we are near maximum human population, and that the population will go down, naturally, without the need for any calamity or forceful intervention. The entire western world, China, Russia, Korea, Iran, Japan, Brazil, Vietnam etc are below replacement rate, and their demographic problem is an aging and shrinking population. The world of the 1960s has been more than capable of handling a doubling of its population, but people would have you believe that it is impossible for the world to cope with an increase of maybe 25% over 30 years. This is why I think that, even though the world has plenty of problems to worry about, peak time to worry about overpopulation is in the rear-view mirror.

Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

@Howard Skillington

You are correct that your joke is an old one. Actually, if memory serves well, Julian Simon himself, in his very book being so thoroughly ridiculed, discusses the analogy with the man falling from a skyscraper heard saying "so far, so good". He considers its applicability to the question of resources, but he rejects it. The guy about to hit the pavement we know will have to revisit his recent experience because there will be an abrupt transition from benign free-fall to fatal high-velocity collision. Julian Simon says: OK so if this is to apply where is this sudden discontinuity in resources supposed to come from? Can anyone point me to it? No? Then, sure the story is funny, but there is no evidence that it is relevant to the problem.

On the range of pessimists to optimists, Julian Simon surely goes all the way up to 11. I think he is a little too positive, especially on pollution and the environment. Yet some of his critics might take the time to actually read what he wrote before ridiculing him for being so dumb that he never for a second paused to consider that past good times are not a guarantee of future good times.

Alex said...

Having been a kid in the 1970s, I can understand Ehrlich's conclusions. One of my younger sisters, with whom I was quite close, almost died of starvation. The official cause of death would have been pneumonia, but it was starvation. She came out of it a changed person, a cynical con artist, frankly. I solved the 1970s for myself by upping my foraging and fishing, she stole food out of peoples houses.

Now at least in the US, the problem is too much food. Probably because in effect, it came off of some starving Indian family's plates.

Gary Flomenhoft said...

Jean-Baptiste rightly refers to the demographic shift, which is actually called the demographic transition theory. One of the most important empirical observations to know about. See:

Simon took the natalist argument to the extreme, but your point is more sensible: "people might adapt their behaviour to circumstances...without the need for any calamity or forceful intervention".

Since the right path is rarely known ahead of time, and predictions of the future are usually wrong, people usually wait for a calamity to respond. Climate change is an example.

But as Skillington points out, just because everything seems fine now, doesn't mean it will continue to be.

Jean-Baptiste said, " There are certainly a limit to human population growth, but I don't see any evidence that we are currently anything close to, or beyond that limit".

Consider that food is produced with about 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to one calorie of food energy. Peak oil and gas are still facts of life.

You might have overlooked a few other things:

Ecological footprint at 1.5 earths:

Planetary boundaries exceeded.

Peak phosphorus:

Human appropriation of Net Primary Production:

Climate change impact on food supply:


Perhaps we can cram more humans on earth. But do we really want to? Aren't there enough troubles already?

LL Pete said...

Flomenhoft says his post is satire. Given the number of readers who took what he wrote seriously (not saying anybody actually understood or believed what he was saying) then he failed at the satire genre. There are rules to every game and writing satire has them too.

Howard Skillington said...

I am entirely comfortable considering this issue on your terms. You claim to see no “sudden discontinuity of resources” that may alter this planet’s capacity to support some seven billion human beings in the next few decades of world demographic transition. I suggest you need look no further than Lake Meade, or California’s Imperial Valley. The changes being wrought by diminished snowmelt and depleted aquifers make “discontinuity” an understatement and, on a geological time scale, more sudden than the imminent impact of that fellow who fell off the building.

The American west is not an aberration. Worldwide the number of resources that sustain life as we know it and are suffering unsustainable depletion are almost innumerable, which makes the earth’s carrying capacity a rapidly moving target. Gary has provided a few instructive links; many more can be found with little effort.

If you can honestly claim today to foresee no sudden discontinuity of resources then I shall exert myself no further trying to make you do so, but unfolding events will force all of us to, soon enough.

Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

@Gary Flomenhoft

"Perhaps we can cram more humans on earth. But do we really want to?"

Who is "we"? Because in the US, in Russia, in China, in Canada, in Italy, in Japan, in Brazil, in Iran, in France, in Ukraine, in Tunisia, in the UK, in Korea, in Poland, in Vietnam etc, people are NOT cramming more humans on Earth. They are having fewer kids than necessary for a stable population. They are currently busy underpopulating the planet. They will die off leaving behind them a smaller number of Americans, Russians, Germans, Taiwanese, Swedes, Turks, etc. Yet there are people running around with their hair on fire, yelling at them that something must be done about the grave, pressing problem of overpopulation. Oh sure there are still countries, fewer and fewer, with a high birth rate: Mali, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Burundi, etc. Go teach THEM about peak phosphorus. That's not where 99.9% of the ClubOrlov readers live.

Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

@Howard Skillington

First of all, *I* did not claim to see no sudden discontinuity of resources. Predicting availability of a given resource 40 years from now is beyond my expertise. I was expressing my understanding of Julian Simon's take on resources. HE was battling the likes of Ehrlich, who were predicting, almost 50 years ago, the imminent end of resources. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, oil and silver would all be gone by 1990 or so and copper by 2000. Yet here we are, 15, 25 years later, and we still have the same 20 years reserves there were 40 years ago. In fact if you looked at the prices for commodities lately, you might have noticed that oil, natural gas, diesel, heating oil, wheat, sugar, soybeans, copper, iron, nickel, all are > 20% below their prices one year ago. Curious behaviour for resources we are about to run out of.

Actually, reading Julian Simon is instructive. It explains a fallacy, why taking known reserves of a resource, dividing it by the global consumption, and arriving at the time at which we will have run out of the resource has been wrong, time and again and again. Yet naive prophets of doom do it again, and again, and it never works as forecast, and it drives them nuts, and it was a one-off, and it's an accounting trick, and they got lucky that time but surely the system will collapse under its own contradictions in the *next* 3 years. OR maybe they are looking at the real world through a simplistic model that makes them look like fools. Read the damn book, but basically he was right then, Ehrlich was wrong. Seems to me the same phenomenon is at play today, with all due respect to lake Meade's ability to support billions of human beings.

Gary Flomenhoft said...


Hey man, you're arguing a straw man. I never said to tell those "High Birth rate" people to reduce their population. I agreed with you that populations adjust through time. I even gave you the name for it: demographic transition. I have read it, and Simon was right about some things, Including reserves, but then he gets ridiculous and says growth (on earth) can continue for 4 billion years. I merely pointed out that in your unconcern about future population growth, you may have overlooked a few things, and I gave you evidence. And so this debate between cornucopian Moquelin and Cassandra Skillimgton has played out exactly as I said:
Cassandras underestimate human ingenuity and adaptation.
Cornucopians underestimate the limits to growth.
Neither side acknowledges the validity of the other.
My view is both sides are right in different ways.
Cheers to both for making good points and engaging.

acomfort said...

Of course the Muslims have to be removed from any political power if they won't change one of their beliefs. If this one belief spread to other countries then our banking system will collapse.

They must adopt usury as most countries have done or the bankers will be distresses from loosing their meager incomes from the interest they earn on the money they print. :(

casamurphy said...

How many people personally known to you died this year? Most people answer 0 or 1 or rarely 2 to that question. If annual worldwide deaths increased 8 fold, most people could take that increase in stride. An 8 fold increase would create a net population decreasing of about 3% per year even if current birthrates continued unabated. At a 3% rate of decrease world population would shrink to 1 billion in about 65 years.

Continued resource scarcity could easily lead to such a tipping point towards significant population reduction over a relatively short period of time; while at the same time most people were not experiencing the decline in acute terms such as war for famine.

Alex said...

Dmitry has spoken in the past about the quite high death toll when the USSR fell, and the average person just kept on with their life.

A USSR researcher in the 90s I believe, did a study and concluded that the USA lost about ten million people in the Great Depression, to starvation. I'm sure the study has been silenced as much as possible!e, but its out there.

Dr. Doom said...


resource depletion and climate change will lead to widespread famine. it's hard to support large populations of anything made mostly of water and requiring same when snowpacks everywhere are rapidly disappearing and groundwaters are being mined into oblivion. those waters were a one-time gift from the past and will not be coming back anytime soon. you bring up an intersting point, but i doubt we have the luxury of 65 years left to see human population reduction accomplished gradually.

Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

I do believe that claims made in the past that we had reached resource limits have been shown to be ridiculously wrong. But I have never professed that there can be no limits to human population growth whatsoever. No, my point is that there is little need to worry about population growth, not because there cannot be any limit to growth, but because in much of the world this growth is stopping on its own and about to go into reverse. Now, population does not go down immediately just because a generation has few kids. It takes time for the older generation to die and be replaced by a smaller younger generation. I am telling those panicking about the great threat of the population explosion that if they just sit on their hands, let the baby boomer generation die off, the problem will slowly take care of itself. Pffew. That was not so hard now, was it? If only all of our problems were that hard to solve.

Howard Skillington said...

Now class: everybody has made good arguments. Cassandra and Cornucopia are both right. So let’s all be nice and turn together to page…

No, Gary, I do not accept that the Simonites and the Ehrlichites are equally correct and that everything will be fine if we just all agree on that. Let’s get back to the essential message that the two tribes’ progenitors were preaching.

Paul Ehrlich warned that we were all on a road to disaster unless the planet’s population growth was curbed. Did he ever gainsay that human beings are extremely clever and resourceful? Of course not.

Julian Simon contended that human beings are so very clever and resourceful that we needn’t curb population growth at all, ever. The argument is not symmetrical.

Let’s not hold Simon to his absurd Two Billion Year Guarantee, but simply compare these positions within a time frame we can grasp. The Simonites all broke out the champagne when Ehrlich’s prediction about the rate of resource depletion turned out to be inaccurate – in 1980. Ok, score one for Julian. But if Simon is ultimately correct, and humans can be confident of millions of years of healthy, prosperous lives as long as we stay clever and innovative, then surely things can’t have deteriorated much in the blink of time that has passed since that bet.

But wait: Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb in 1968, when the world population was about 3.5 billion. Less than a half century later, with that population more than doubled, conditions have deteriorated drastically. It turns out that neither the water in our aquifers nor the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb carbon is infinite, after all. Resources of all sorts have been severely depleted and anthropogenic climate change threatens essential human habitat throughout the world.

Jean-Baptiste would have us think that once the world population has diminished by several billions in a peaceful and orderly fashion, that everything will be fine. But, no: the great coastal cities of the world will be under water and cheap petroleum will be a distant memory.

The tricks we have used to sustain an ever-increasing population since 1980 were like doping a racehorse. Yes, he won the race, but the horse dropped dead on the way back to the stable.

The reason Ehrlich’s supporters, including myself, were loath to acknowledge the validity of Simon’s position was that we knew that it would simply provide the world with an easy rationalization for not curbing population growth.

If the world had listened to Ehrlich and the planet now had a population of perhaps four billion, consider the abundant untapped resources that would remain, the environmental degradation that could have been avoided, the time that we would all have gained to understand the implications of climate change. Instead, we have, in effect, listened to Julian Simon and plunged headlong toward our current situation.

So I ask: which world, Ehrlich’s or Simon’s, would offer humanity a better chance for a thriving, abundant future? (and the answer cannot be “both”)

Gary Flomenhoft said...

Hey Howard,
Very funny, but I didn't say they were both equally right. There are limits to growth, and civilizations collapse all the time from resource depletion. This isn't prophecy. Historically the resource was forests, such as the Maya, Easter Island, middle east, etc. Read "Forest Journey" by Perlin, or "Collapse" by Diamond, but you probably have. Our cornucopian friend probably hasn't.

I will take the cornucopian side on one thing you said:

"If the world had listened to Ehrlich and the planet now had a population of perhaps four billion, consider the abundant untapped resources that would remain, the environmental degradation that could have been avoided, the time that we would all have gained to understand the implications of climate change."

I doubt the above statement is true. Here's a term the Cassandras need, "Jevons Paradox". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

All increases in efficiency or technology are turned into greater consumption, instead of savings. So we would probably just have increased our greater resources per-capita into greater consumption per-capita. Only absolute constraints slow humans from expanding. Humans never adapt from foresight, only when they have to, and population growth is slowing naturally, as our cornucopian friend contends.

Jean-Baptiste says "the problem will slowly take care of itself", and does not contend (as Simon did) that growth can be infinite. His is a reasonable position based on evidence.

So the difference is only in the urgency of addressing the problem. He says you are a Chicken-Little, and you say he is an ostrich. Back to square one. I wrote a recent article about how humans deal with environmental problems. It might shed light on the topic:


Jean-Baptiste Moquelin said...

Very well then. The gauntlet has been thrown. A fight. To the death.

You say that since publication of The Population Bomb, “conditions have deteriorated drastically”. For whom? What conditions? Let me pick one example. India.

Paul Ehrlich considered that India was dead. Deader than dead. So dead that it was counter-productive to try to help it out. India was gone beyond hope of saving. It was an utter waste of precious resource to even try to help that country, sure to turn presently into a nightmarish land of zombie skeletons cannibals. No resources left, you know. Ehrlich argued to let it go down the drain
People did not listen to Ehrlich, you lament. And indeed, the population of India went up monstrously. It went from 520 million people in 1968 to 1267 million in 2015 [https://www.quandl.com/data/WORLDBANK/IND_SP_POP_TOTL-India-Population-total]. The utter madness of adding 750 million people into an already irrecoverable cesspool of misery and starvation!

So how did this go?

Wealth. Have Indians drowned into the deepest poverty conceivable? Actually, according to this table [http://www.ers.usda.gov%2Fdatafiles%2FInternational_Macroeconomic_Data%2FHistorical_Data_Files%2FhistoricalRealPerCapitaGDPValues.xls&ei=wEjSVfjGGYvpoASVqqWoCQ&usg=AFQjCNHHM17T183BxTjG0C7DHsg6eQGHTA&sig2=hYzfbXYk4af5uPxwmPGjRQ&bvm=bv.99804247,d.cGU], the real GDP per capita in India has gone from 363$ in 1968 to 1696$ in 2014. That is 4.67 times more. These numbers are inflation-adjusted, so Indians are way richer than they were at the time the Cassandras were considering them already falling into the Abyss. “Oh, this is just an accounting trick” you will object. I don’t think so, it is a reality that there has been a development of a huge middle class in India. But let’s pick another indicator of the well-being of a population.

Life expectancy. According to http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/history-of-life-expectancy, life expectancy at birth in India was 42.3 years in 1960, and had already gone up to 49.3 in 1970. Well in 2014, this is up to 65.5. Not earth-shaking compared to richer countries, of course, but a tremendous improvement. Keep in mind that in 1960, the US life expectancy was barely higher, at 69.8. India has nearly caught up with the US of 1960

Child mortality.
Back in 1968, out of 1000 live births, 219.7 would die before the age of 5. More than one in five! As of 2014, this is down to 52.7. Down by a factor of more than 4!

What can I say? Education levels in India are simply skyrocketing.
Oh, and one last curious stat about India.

Fertility rate:
1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
India 5.49 4,68 3,88 3,15 2,56
Yep. Now that child mortality is way down, Indian behavior has changed. Even though they are in a better position to feed more children, the number of kids per woman is down so much that it is not significantly above the stable population level. The view of humans as breeding until they drop from starvation like yeast or germs does not match observable reality, just as Julian Simon argued.

So there you have it in a nutshell, the Julian Simon world that has “deteriorated drastically”. Deteriorated as in, 4-5 times richer, a life expectancy 50% higher, child mortality divided by 4, college enrollment up by a factor of 5. So Mr. Skillington, when you ask around about the desirability of Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich worlds, make sure you include a couple of Indians in your samples. Ask them: wasn't India so much better in the Arcadia that was the India of 1968? Don't you want to go back to those blessed times? Aren't you angry that your parents did not strangle half of your generation in your cribs in order to preserve resources?

cloudhidden said...

Recently posted by one Kayel Michal. Advocating genocide of 90% of the world pop in the next 20 years.
Wonder who he has in mind for acting as "the decider"?

rapier said...

Gandhi said, approximately, there is enough for every mans need but not for every mans greed.

Liberalism, using the broadest definition, has gone from triumph to triumph post WWII. As a percentage of all humans fewer now than ever before in human history are malnourished, refugees or in the path of war and its dangers (actually refugees are now rising), illiterate, subject to governments imprisoning or otherwise stripping their freedom, subject to severe prejudice for their sexuality, and I could go on, and on.

That said, that is history. What happens going forward is different. In general all those things are the result of economic development. However if you subscribe to the ideas such as those of Automatic Earth,which I do, which says all that development was based upon cheap energy, mostly petroleum, and then extended by the accumulation of debt the last 30 years then the future doesn't look so bright.

The absolute limit of energy supplies for the next few decades is contingent upon more credit. If more credit can be extended then the system can continue on, limping more and more perhaps, but carry on. Everything, again per Automatic Earth, is contingent upon finance.

The argument between the limits and the near endless growth camps is really about debt. How much more can be extended and with that how much more can old debt be kept current by new borrowing,as in Greece and an exploding list of other countries. Countries where 'austerity' is sure to reign, if they don't outright fail, and all the list of liberal goodness for those people goes backwards. .