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Interesting Links for 05-03-2012

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

Is (1) that bad?

And the article specifically contradicts (2).

I don't think it's inherently bad, if a smaller number of people can be supported in equal or better comfort. It may be good. But I would guess it's impossible to get there from here whether it's desirable or not: can you drop the population by a factor of a thousand without having all the existing population starve when they get old, and without having millions of people migrate in?

Is (1) that bad?

Heh... I find it weird when people ask this question... unless we allow "magic" (humans suddenly find a way to responsibly reduce the population by an extreme amount through family planning in a way that doesn't leave an aging population to starve) there seems no way to get to that population without an extreme amount of human misery and premature death. If the deaths and suffering of billions is not bad then what is?

It's a funny little mental quirk... One person or animal starving or dying prematurely and unnecessary is obviously bad. Weirdly, billions, less so. I've encountered it with global warming deniers. If you back them into a corner of "yes, there is an increase in temperature, OK that's clear" and "OK, it is manmade... OK that's clear" and "OK, the consequences would be massive loss of human and animal life" then occasionally (in at least two people where I've got to stage 3 with) you get "well is it really so bad if there are fewer people and animals".

I appreciate you were more asking "is the smaller population" necessarily so bad -- in which case I agree with the below comment.

I wasn't suggesting a move from _here_ to a hunter-gatherer society. That would be genocidal insanity.

Well you could argue that a tiny human population would be a very good thing indeed for the rest of the eco-system, particularly given it now seems an inevitability that global capitalist-consumerism is going to destroy the world. But it's one of those situations where, we might as well say if the asteroid hadn't hit, we'd all be super intelligent dinosaurs. We can hardly go back to hunter-gathering, at least not without a catastrophe that sees 99% of us wiped out.

And yeah, there's is this ongoing argument in archaeology about just how much spare time hunter-gatherers would have had. Some argue that it was a pretty easy relaxed lifestyle, others that it was tough hard work from dawn until dusk. I think it probably depends on the environment. Some HGs would have had an easy life, if they were lucky enough to live in food rich locations. Others, not so much.

We've got archaeological evidence of hunter-gatherer populations where there are quite significant skeletal defects amongst women, for example, from spending their entire lives squatting on cave floors processing shellfish.

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