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February 03, 2008

Science, Population, and Rhetoric (Logical, Historical)

That Science has become a cornucopia of wealth producing “miracles” is hardly news; but so great has been the speed with which humans have adapted, and so profoundly has uncritical incorporation of scientific technology affected life on our planet, we are only now (and very reluctantly) coming to grips with the possibility that in just the past two hundred years, the Industrial Revolution may have become a threat to our survival.  Even more shocking is the realization that any realistic appreciation of today's threats was still well below the horizon in 1945, as we struggled to emerge from the double catastrophe of two World Wars within a mere three-decade interval.

Until the UN was chartered in 1945, neither the “modern," nor the “ancient” world had ever enjoyed a prolonged era of peace and prosperity.
Although the subsequent six decades have produced unparalleled prosperity for some, whatever “peace” humans have enjoyed has come at great (and delayed) cost. Not only did we have to survive the Cold War threat of nuclear destruction, we are now confronting the bitter resentments of huge populations with increasing access to modern communications and (an understandable) belief they’re still being exploited: first by Western imperialism and later by being asked to forego the (delayed) benefits of their own industrialization.

It’s only 210 years since Thomas Malthus (anonymously) published the first version of a that’s come to symbolize debate over the optimal size of the human population. Reading just some of what’s been written on the subject quickly discloses two surprises: Malthus wasn’t the first to raise those concerns and he was later forced to admit in subsequent editions, that his predecessors had already given the issue much more thought than he’d realized.

Indeed, the population “debate” now seems more a game of (reluctant) “catch up” since before Malthus, one that may now have become part of a greatly accelerated cycle in which the wealth produced by excess populations blinds those exploiting them to the potential  dangers of such exploitation. Indeed; so avidly have the notions of wealth and private property been embraced by modern Capitalism, Religion and Economics are now as openly conflated in defense of US economic policy as they were by the Conquistadors, slave traders and sundry other adventurers who flocked to the New World in the three centuries between Colombus and our founding as a nation.

Modern Man has always been relentlessly entreprenurial; all that’s required to understand that is the realization that the “isms” invoked by uncrowned autocrats like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin were simply state religions imposed by daring entreperneurs and modern theocracies are really just devices by which political, military, and economic power is

It all depends on how one thinks about certain issues; for example, how do illegal aliens differ from illegal drugs? Perhaps Lou Dobbs and his supporters could explain how to exclude the former when the past four decades have amply documented the drug war’s failure to even slow entry of the latter.

Or am I missing something? Whatever it is, our Presidential hopefuls never mention drugs; even while pontificating about illegal immigration... nor do they mention population limits when confabulating about rapid climate change.

Doctor Tom


Posted by tjeffo at February 3, 2008 06:56 PM