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Beyond Civilization
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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 238)...

    If we were to just stabilize the production of food as of 'right' now, like you do in your mice experiments, and discontinue the way of furthering the expansion of food production, it just seems as though people in poorer areas of the world would just drop like flys.


    ...and the response:

    Let's suppose we have an island populated by a million people. Last month
    these million people received 30,000 tons of food--plenty of food. If this
    month these million people receive another 30,000 tons of food, there's no
    conceivable reason why they're going to be dropping like flies any more
    than they were last month. It's true that new babies will be born, but it's
    also true that old adults will die (and it should be noted that babies need
    less food than adults). The same will be true if they receive another
    30,000 tons of food next month, the month after that, and so on.

    Now let's suppose we have another island populated by a million people.
    Last month these million people received only 10,000 tons of food--they're
    pretty hungry. If this month these million people receive another 10,000
    tons of food, there's no conceivable reason why they're going to be
    dropping like flies any more than they were last month. The same will be
    true if they receive another 10,000 tons of food next month, the month
    after that, and so on.

    Now let's suppose we have another island populated by a million people.
    Last month these million people received only 5,000 tons of food--they're
    really hungry and some are dropping like flies. If this month these million
    people receive another 5,000 tons of food, they're going to go on being
    hungry and some are going to be dropping like flies, just like last month.
    The difference is, that, because infant mortality is likely to be high
    under these circumstances and because live births are likely to be fewer
    under these circumstances and because many children will not live to
    maturity, this population is likely to decline some. Perhaps their
    population will slip to 999,500 in this month. If they receive another
    5,000 tons of food next month, the same thing is likely to happen. And so on.


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