Population Control

Regarding your opinion on genetically modified food in reponse to question #712: Given how we in our hierarchical society think today, I agree that use of genetically modified foods will fuel our overpopulation catastrophe and will likely encourage domination of food production by a few companies. I also agree that if the world is going to be saved, that it will be done by those thinking very differently than we do today.

Trying to think differently on the subject, do you think it’s possible to use genetically modified foods to manage/limit food production like your hypothetical feeder in the cage? For example, this year we decide to genetically grow, distribute, and eat only X amount of food to feed our human population of X + 1.

Put another way, could genetically modified food serve as a useful means for producing, distributing, and tracking food production on a scale necessary for the taker culture to manage these processes and stop fueling the cycle of increased food production and population explosion?

Obviously, this type of decision-making would require cooperation and organization by many people with changed minds. Unfortunately, I am woefully unknowledgeable about genetically modified foods, and given your wide-ranging studies, I figured you might have an opinion on whether trying to change minds in this direction makes any sense.

A population that is overrepresented beyond sustainability will feel some sort of backlash (I think this is called the revenge effect). Is the human species collectively able to make the choice to stop an overall population increase before there is a revenge effect?

If we were to suppose that all humans were capable of this trait, we would also be acknowledging something that (to my knowledge) has not happened in our evolution; an entire species choosing not to further increase their representation in the gene pool for a long term view of survival.

This has been a consistent road block for me.

My question concerns your thesis regarding food production and population growth. If you are right, and I rather think you are, then a human community should not grow beyond its ability to subsist on locally produced food sources.

My question is this: how do we define local? I would like to define local ecologically in terms of “bioregions.”

For example, my bioregion, northern Canada, produces no bananas, oranges, grapes, etc. But it does produce very good raspberries. So my fruit diet should consist of raspberries. And if I recover a bit of old wisdom I could learn how to preserve a variety of rasberry products for use over the winter. This makes perfect sense to me, although in an era of global trade it does limit my food choices. Still, ecologically this makes sense to me.

So the second question is this: Do you think the ideas of global trade and competitive advantage (not to mention cheap oil) have led us to an artificial understanding of things like food production? Is this one more source of our disconnectedness with natural processes?

If I am understanding you correctly then the modern “supermarket” is a disturbing place, but the local “farmers market” is to be supported and encouraged. I would be interested in your response.

I recognize the fact that cultures are subject to a form of natural selection, in which unlivable practices are abandoned or changed by the members of a tribal society over time. However, what I do not understand is how one can look at a tribal society today and make assumptions about their past.

Members of a tribe may say, “We have done this since the beginning of time,” but the oral tradition changes along with everything else, and it isn’t really reliable.

In several answered questions, you have replied to a person’s inquiry about an unpleasant cultural practice with a response along the lines of, that culture has been proceeding for thousands of years, anything unsustainable to its people would have been eliminated by now.

But how can we know whether they will be eliminated in the future? If a practice is eliminated in a tribe, does that render our previous criticism of it “correct” from an evolutionary perspective? Destructive practices must exist for a short time before they are abandoned, so how can we tell if the last few hundred years out of thousands in a tribe’s history aren’t the most internally destructive, or a radical change from what enabled them to survive before?

I’m not quite clear about your stance on birth control. You say in The Story of B that you have no problem with birth control. But at the end of Ishmael, the student implies that we live in the society we live in because we don’t want to live at the mercy of the gods.

However, birth control seems to me to be a matter of trying not to live at the hands of the gods. It seems as though it is a contradiction to say that we create problems by refusing to live in the hands of the gods, but at the same time saying you have no problem with people using birth control.

I guess I would most like you to clear up your stance on your feelings toward the use of artificial contraception.

I have a question about the World Health Organization and their policy on world population growth. Every time I discuss population growth and solutions with other people, I meet the same argument over and over again, which goes approximately like this: “The WHO estimates the population growth to rise to around 12 billion people and then stabilize there in 2050-60. (The numbers flux a bit.)

This is “proof” that family planning works, the problem is under control, and all talk about collapse is just silly cultism.” Well, they are right.

The WHO really DO think the world population will stabilize at 12 billion. They probably have heaps of scientific reports to prove this right, and a crowd of experts that assure us of this fact, and therefore there is no cause for alarm. The collapse of mankind will NOT come.

My question is, therefore, What is your view on the WHO policy on population growth, and what do you answer when you get hit over your head with all that expert-talk?

I have been reading the book My Ishmael and was wondering if/when we save the world, after a while people might forget about this culture and start locking up their food again, starting a whole new “Mother Culture.” This whole saving the world will be essentially pointless if some one messes it up again. Would we have anything to keep us from doing that again?

If you have been watching the news recently, you must have seen something about how a company called Clonaid has claimed to have cloned the first human baby.

Clonaid is also in a way, a branch of a new religion movement called Raelian that believes man was made a long time ago by aliens who genetically created us in labs. I guess this belief isn’t that much different from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief, neither can accept that we evolved from “common slime.” The leader said that their long term goal is to use cloning to give humans eternal life.

What is your opinion on this subject? Do you think these people will ever achieve their goal? Do you think they will be allowed to? If they do, what do you think the effects on this world will be?