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August 27, 2008

Malthus was Right

Our brains are the organs with which we humans compete, both with “nature,” and each other. We are intensely competitive and also pride ourselves on our fairness. Nevertheless, the most important and least assailable revelation of my study of pot smokers may be that there is no such thing as a completely honest human being, let alone a completely honest politician; we all have a price and prove corruptible all too often.

That statement might easily be dismissed with a shrug and the question, “so, what else is new?” Yet it really challenges a default that’s been guiding collective human behavior since Christianity appropriated the basic doctrines of Judaism, thus propelling some form of monotheism into global dominance and automatically incorporating the (false) belief that human nature is intrinsically moral and we prize “justice” above all.

To return to the population concerns Malthus expressed a little over two centuries ago: not only were they reasonable and accurate for their day, they still apply. But we also have to remember that because his knowledge of Science was primitive by modern standards, Malthus couldn’t possibly have anticipated the degree to which Science and the Industrial Revolution would affect his final reckoning. Both the degree of population growth and its rate of increase literally took the entire world by surprise following World War Two. While I agree that Professor Sachs states the case for Malthusian catastrophe and its possible solution very clearly, I still see a need to offset the endemic hypocrisy that underlies virtually all human behavior and is critically intensified by competition.

This is obviously not a simple subject, however the basics aren’t that complicated: so long as the comforting notion of an omnipotent jealous god dominates global political thought, there’s great risk that regional human replacement rates won’t decline rapidly enough to reduce the dangers global overpopulation will continue to pose through some combination of climate change, disease, nuclear war, and economic melt-down.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 27, 2008 06:51 PM