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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 761)...

    No societal system can be sustainable without population limits. I assume you agree.

    ...and the response:

    I'm afraid I can't quite agree, because our societal system isn't the only one in operation here. Nonhuman societies don't have "population limits" as such. Their populations are controlled by a feedback relationship with their food supply. (As their population increases, their food supply diminishes. As their food supply diminishes, their population diminishes; as their food supply recovers, their populations recovers--until, eventually, their food supply again begins to diminish, and so on). In pre-agricultural human history, population increases (and consequent food scarcity) could be resolved by emigration into unoccupied territories -- which is how the viable living spaces on the planet came to be occupied by humans before agriculture entered the picture as a way of defeating the feedback relation between humans and their food. With agriculture in play, our population no longer had to diminish when food supplies diminished -- we just grew more . . . and more . . . and more.


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