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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 731)...

    I want to know what to tell people about the food race when they ask "so who would die for our population to decrease?" Your answer to 234 seems to say that the population decline would come from stillbirths and death before adolescence (no children). I'm afraid people whose minds I wish to change won't want to hear this answer. Is this also how it works in nature, with the bunnies and wolves and rats in the lab? I can't imagine that these animals would realize that food is scarce and start practicing abstinence. As an aside, would you say, to an extent, that where more food is not the answer, proper distribution of the food we have is? Your answer about sacrificing some orange juice hinted at this.

    ...and the response:

    When the food resources of a given species in the wild declines, its population declines for a number of reasons: more time must be spent searching for food, so there is less time for mating, females become less fertile, and less care is given the young, so that the population gradually declines.

    As it presently stands, agriculturally abundant countries like ours are supporting growth in Third World countries in Asia, Africa, and South America (where all those starving millions are to be found). If we were to limit food production to a sufficiency for our own population, this support would disappear, and the starving millions would doubtless be the first to go. Your friends doubtless don't want to hear this.

    The vast majority of biologists now agree that we are in a period of mass extinctions equal to any such period of the past, as a clear result of our population's impact on the world. Do your friends want to hear this? As extinctions accelerate, there will come a point when the ecological systems that support human life will collapse--and our species will disappear along with millions of others. Do your friends want to hear this?

    In the end, I'm afraid I can't worry about what people "want" to hear. George Bush didn't want to hear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but covering his ears didn't change the fact that there were none.


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