Famine

A central and repeatedly stated assertion of the two Quinn books I read is that at some time humans lived in a stable equilibrium. That is not a worldview, that is an assertion of fact. A particular fact that is problematic in proving, yet Quinn claims to know it is true. He actually waters it down at one point and says that human population did grow steadily before some arbitrary level of agricultural innovation, but that it was slower than in recent times. My question is: Why should I believe that modern humans ever existed in a stable equilibrium? I believe that the growth rate has not been constant, yet how could I know that the early history of humans is fundamentally different from exponential growth in which growth is relatively slow for a long time early on?

Even if we live tribally (in the sense you use the word in Beyond Civilization), aren’t we still going to crash just as fast as if we work for a hierarchical corporation? We’re still dependent on agriculture. What is to stop the new tribalism from damaging the planet just as much as civilization, provided that we’re still dependent on growing all of our own food?

By the time we “discovered” America the continent was fully inhabited by Native Americans. Their population growth is much slower than ours, but it grows too. They still had enough of room to grow slowly without being a real danger for this world. But what if they have had another hundred thousand years? Their growth is slowed down by the way they live, but there’s no proof that it is really limited. Or is there a proof? Finally, my best argument is: they DO have a population control that works until now, which is more than we can assert. And it would be better to have a control that presumably works than to have NO control at all. But would it work if they would have our technology? If we don’t have to give up technology, and if the Leavers have the only known mechanism to control population, what would happen if you combine these components?

With regard to population, when the 6 billionth person was born, one of the writers for National Review tried to put this into perspective and reveled that if all 6 billion people lived in the state of Texas, each of them would have an eighth of an acre to him/herself. This doesn’t seem like too many people to me. Any comments?

Yes, but how are the strategies proposed in Beyond Civilization supposed to eliminate pollution, overpopulation, crime, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poverty, police brutality, political corruption, racism, child abuse, violence against women, homophobia, pornography, violence in film and music, exploitation of the elderly, date rape, judicial malfeasance, insider trading, road rage, and media bias?

Ishmael says that to feed a starving people will only perpetuate their suffering, and I agree. However, Ishmael also offered as a solution *moving the starving people out, to a place where food is more abundant.* Beg your pardon, but unless I misread what you are saying, I cannot possibly understand this logic. What is the difference between sending food to the people, and sending people to the food? Is the result not the same? Would they not simply multiply in the area to whence they were moved, and eventually exhaust all those resources, as well?

OK, I understand that there are biological mechanisms that are inherent in species that allow them (via instinct, not awareness) to keep their populations at levels that tie in with the availability of their food supply. But what about the notion that humans can consciously choose to have or not have children as a way of population control? I contend that if we don’t use conscious awareness as a means of limiting our population, the mechanisms that other animals use (ie, those animals who do not have the same level of conscious awareness as humans) may not work or be enough.