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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Betteridge-says-"No" dept.

Can We Feed Billions of Ourselves Without Wrecking the Planet?

We are now producing more food more efficiently than ever, and there is plenty to go around for a human population of 7 billion. But it is coming at a drastic cost in environmental degradation, and the bounty is not reaching many people.

Sustainable Food Production, a new Earth Institute primer from Columbia University Press, explores how modern agriculture can be made more environmentally benign, and economically just. With population going to maybe 10 billion within 30 years, the time to start is now, the authors say.

The lead author is ecologist Shahid Naeem, director of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. He coauthored the book with former Columbia colleagues Suzanne Lipton and Tiff van Huysen.

This is an interesting interview with the author. Do you agree (or disagree) with his conclusions?

Columbia Climate School

[Also Covered By]: Phys.org


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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:35PM (30 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:35PM (#1211825)

    This moment in my city, we're seeing societal collapse with empty shelves where food used to graze. Turns out the people that grow your produce, transport it to the city and stock it in your grocery store get COVID too.

    When I was a kid during the eighties my dad kept chickens and had a vegetable patch. How did we lose that knowledge in one generation?

    Retirement plans involve selling my modest inner city apartment, all I could afford on a single salary, and moving to a 3 bedroom cottage away from the big smoke. Nothing fancy, just enough room for a vegetable patch in a town with higher than average rainfall.

    Start with a small garden bed. Potatoes are an easy starter, just need a shovel and a watering can.

    Will it scale to 10 billion? Well, it only has to support me and the neighbors I would swap produce with.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:00PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:00PM (#1211837)

    >> it only has to support me and the neighbors I would swap produce with.

    Save some for the well-armed ghetto-dwellers who'll be coming by looking for food when their KFC runs out.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:24PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:24PM (#1211845)

      I don't think trump does hands on work like that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:31PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:31PM (#1211905)

      I wish they would.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by crafoo on Tuesday January 11, @06:04PM (10 children)

    by crafoo (6639) on Tuesday January 11, @06:04PM (#1211838)

    As the population grows you will not be allowed land to grow your own food. This system is inefficient and individual farmland is equivalent to asking others to starve. No, you do not get to ask Africans, Asians to have less children. Only to turn over your land, live in a pod, and eat the bugs so that they may have more. Not feeding other peoples' children and shouldering the consequences of their decisions is EVIL. Didn't you know?

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday January 11, @07:59PM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @07:59PM (#1211881) Journal

      Leave us out of your weird fantasies.

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:10PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:10PM (#1211884)

      Taxes to fund the murder of other coumtry's citizens for their stuff? Totally cool, patriotism, national security bro!

      Taxes to support your own citizens and build a better country? Tyranny! Don't tread on me!

      You lot are disgusting, and Christ would kick your ass.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:39PM (#1211910)

        Jewsus never existed and the only way i would ever start paying taxes was if my money was used for my people. Non-whites don't belong in America. Always have been brought in by Jews to subvert the nation.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:46PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:46PM (#1211913)

        You're not a Christian, so you don't get to use your very poor knowledge of Christianity to try to win an argument. Christ very clearly said many times that those who don't believe in him are damned, so I don't know "whose" Christ you are quoting in your reply. The only person's ass he would kick is yours.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @10:06PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @10:06PM (#1211942)

          Leave it to a rightwinger to be ignorant of their own religion.

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @10:27PM (3 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @10:27PM (#1211950)

            You didn't refute it because you can't. Jesus was not a longhaired 1970s hippie.

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @12:40AM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @12:40AM (#1211978)

              “If you want to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Matthew 19:21

              "Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." Luke 18:22

              Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Mark 10:21

              There are so many goodies in the Bible from Jesus about how you should treat one another. Too bad too many Christians pay someone else to read it for them. Do your own research, indeed.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @01:17PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @01:17PM (#1212086)

                For the poor to survive, not to live well-off on taxes with TVs, cell phones, cars, etc. "Poor" in Jesus' day was REALLY poor. Today's poor would not even register as poor.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @12:00AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @12:00AM (#1212249)

                  "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

                  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

                  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

                  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

                  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

                  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

                  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

                  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” -- Matthew 25:31-46

                  The least of them. No other qualifications, just that they are in need. And definitely no qualification that you shouldn't give just because you might accidentally help someone who might not need it badly enough, however you would like to rationalize that need.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Tuesday January 11, @09:38PM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday January 11, @09:38PM (#1211930)

      Bugs! [time.com] Yes! This guy gets it! Well, at least the bugs part.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by khallow on Tuesday January 11, @06:10PM (3 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @06:10PM (#1211839) Journal

    How did we lose that knowledge in one generation?

    Zoning regulations.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 11, @07:22PM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 11, @07:22PM (#1211866)

      Also give some blame to homeowner's associations, who frequently demand that the homeowners in their neighborhoods keep their property as boring as possible. It's extreme enough that some of them prescribe precisely what species of grass are allowed, which other plants are allowed, and what color mulch to use. People have been fined, lost their homes, or even gone to jail for failing to follow the dictates of HOAs as defined usually by the neighborhood self-appointed busybodies.

      For example, anything like this [pinterest.com] or this [joegardener.com] would be treated as borderline criminal, even though both of them are in my opinion at least as pretty as grass monoculture lawns.

      --
      Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11, @08:29PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @08:29PM (#1211902) Journal
        The lawlessness is obvious in those photos. I shudder to think how many unauthorized sheds those people have.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:40PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:40PM (#1212132)

        the pinterest photo is really bad. how many tree-years of wood was sacrificed to make a pretty "bucket" to grow ... salat? sheesh.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:24PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:24PM (#1211868)

    Unfortunately this simply isn't an option for a solution. Beyond the plain fact that most housing rests on lots that simply can't produce yield, the way that our society has been architected has doomed us to a slow mode of failure. Urbanization was a considerable error. It was compounded by post-war materialism and the "white picket fence", ultimately culminating in a self-destructive mode of living. Had we promoted the multi-generational independent households of the past rather than the single family home, and the "move to work" modality, I suspect we'd be in a much better place. With a limited land allotment and the level of self-accountability that ad hoc production certainly the population growth would've been curtailed many years ago. Instead the collective was made to elect the divestment option and eschew independence for a form which ever-increasingly fosters dependence. Both capital and power, state and business are invested in maintaining this system against all odds - independence is the anathema to their ends. And with the momentum and the inertia they possess, we'll continue the trend until they're in possession of perfect control.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:34PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @07:34PM (#1211870)

      It's funny that Star Trek is seen as some kind of ideal future. Humans in military uniforms completely dependent on The System to provide not only food but air to breathe. Status is measured in terms of obedience to the master. The "maverick" role is limited to a single superhero and only occasionally and he always gets in deep shit for it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:23PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:23PM (#1211897)

        looks like someone here needs to go back to the academy for re-education.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @03:10AM (4 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @03:10AM (#1212012) Journal

      Had we promoted the multi-generational independent households of the past rather than the single family home, and the "move to work" modality, I suspect we'd be in a much better place.

      With higher income inequality. The ability to move to where things are doing well is a huge part of the reason the developed world exists in the first place. And I find it bizarre that you complain of urbanization while praising a form of it (the above multi-generational household).

      Had we promoted the multi-generational independent households of the past rather than the single family home, and the "move to work" modality, I suspect we'd be in a much better place.

      With a poorer, larger population - because they wouldn't be in a better place. The developed world appears to be the place you're referring to, perhaps even the US specifically. That part of the world has licked the population growth problem. Without importing high fertility immigrants, the entire developed world would be negative population growth. And of course, it's got the highest distribution of income and wealth too. So sounds like it's solving these problems just fine.

      With a limited land allotment and the level of self-accountability that ad hoc production certainly the population growth would've been curtailed many years ago.

      I challenge you to find a place that actually works. Making kids is pretty easy for poor people to do even in crowded slums (with ad hoc production of everything).

      My take is that this is a classic and common example of the misconceptions about what causes poverty, overpopulation, and such. You won't find the causes in the developed world. You'd find them in the poorest parts of the world. And as we make these latter places wealthier, the problems associated with poverty are going away like they did in the developed world.

      I think it's time to look at what works.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @08:20PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @08:20PM (#1212198)

        >With higher income inequality. The ability to move to where things are doing well is a huge part of the reason the developed world exists in the first place. And I find it bizarre that you complain of urbanization while praising a form of it (the above multi-generational household).

        Inequality predominately has to do with the organization of the economy and polity. Loads of anthropological work has shown us there is a huge spectrum by which society can organize itself in long-running civilizations, it's a enlightenment-era fallacy built on uninformed induction that lead us to the current means. But even given the inequality, if your family were to own a household, and if the land was capable of subsistence or better, is inequality particularly relevant? If we didn't socialize people into consumerists? The real outcome here is independence, resilience, and austerity - anti-consumerist. And you've misdefined urban.

        >With a poorer, larger population - because they wouldn't be in a better place. The developed world appears to be the place you're referring to, perhaps even the US specifically. That part of the world has licked the population growth problem. Without importing high fertility immigrants, the entire developed world would be negative population growth. And of course, it's got the highest distribution of income and wealth too. So sounds like it's solving these problems just fine.

        Poor is relative; in the earliest eras of the new world, and in a more recent example, people inducted into what would commonly be defined as "tribal" societies - even when presented the option - opted to remain with them. I suspect neither you, and I'm certain that I, have never been presented with the option to integrate into a civilization that eschews materialism and in lieu offers the real humanitarian aspects, effectively, what we're evolved for. Instead the "developed world" exchanges these human aspects with abstraction into economic units.

        As to the "developed world" there's a running theme wherein every nation touched by European imperialism has been classed in the modern era as "developing" or "underdeveloped" which begs a line of questioning I can't satisfy that is deserving of nuanced research as not only is it a question of material theft, but the interplay of diverse cultures and poisoning of the indigenous mind and society. Moreover, in recent times especially, we've only been able to sustain our quality of life through offshoring, which is to say exploiting the poverty that imperialism is likely directly linked to. And this includes immigration, and this I reckon is a hazard, because it's adjusting against a naturally occurring declination for the sake of maintaining the status quo, which would be much improved over the long run for the majority otherwise, and is effectively a continuation of the impoverishment of the masses.

        So it's all about lensing, and a considerable sum of our "wealth" is a product of theft.

        >I challenge you to find a place that actually works. Making kids is pretty easy for poor people to do even in crowded slums (with ad hoc production of everything).

        No evidence of instance is not an instance of no presence. For one we can look at the Spartans, a truly austere people. They deployed a wide variety of especially draconian methods to structure their society. One of these policies is well known, which ultimately lead to infanticide but there was also late marriages (30y), and Spartan girls weren't available until they were 18, to contrast with the more common 14 years. The most notable consideration here is that it was the culture that ultimately described their behavior, conditioning. And quite a bit of this is also true for hunter-gatherer bands, there's a number of birth control modalities employed by them, including lactational amenorrhea, birth cycling, infanticide, and abortion. These people would assuredly register to you as "poor". And this was practiced widely. And there is evidence that certain people even deliberately timed the births (just as many elect to today) to mitigate issues with scarcity. Moreover there is the imminent risk of death. Ultimately this says, without the naive interventionist route, that both deliberate and natural processes have effected human populations.

        If we took Jared Diamond's thesis into account, wherein Europe was the best-suited continent for the emergence of successful agriculture due to the favorable geography, the biodiversity, thus accessibility of viable cultivars and cultivation - and the further cascading effects that necessarily conditioned them to such a lifestyle wherein land could be made more productive and generating in excess, which ultimately leads to increases in birth, then population density, and evolves into specializations netting a positive feedback loop, and thus displacing the HG populations worldwide through a process of recruitment or extinction. But also this culminates into a system of private property enforced by the state and exploited by those possessed of multi-generational wealth. Which is to say in most cases, a monopoly is enforced by the state to maintain the status quo. Quite a bit of state and federal land is minimally, if at all, meaningfully productive but occupation would be illegal. Ironically the murder and extinction of indigenous Americans was justified on the basis of their disuse of the land.

        The hidalgo class was manufactured from the practice of enclosure. They couldn't reasonably get land in Spain, so they started traversing the world. That's plenty of evidence of the basis of my thesis. Resource scarcity pressed them out. This is occurring in the "plain people" as well. Without intervention this would eventually lead even the most irrational and insane populations to conclude that their population needed management.

        Insofar as the developing world, you're undoubtedly conflating the effects in an unbelievably noisy signal. Figure civil rights, EEOC, women induced into the workforce, the two-income household, figure the rules changes in the currency (Bretton-Woods, inflation, rates), the changes in economic policy (bailouts), the de-correlation of wages and productivity, pornography, dysmorphia, anti-social media. I challenge you to find a definitive causative.

        >........

        Your crowded slums thesis is based on modern era consumer-capitalism wherein systems exist to buffer both the offspring and the parents from being excised, plenty of baffles to prevent them from spilling, including highly processed foods that are nutritionally bereft and have indefinite shelf lives as a product of preservative techne. Foods which very apparently are designed to feed the cattle-esque caricature that is rendered to modernity as the economic unit "human" sold at low cost. My thesis is that had we been allowed to elect a better culture, had we not been goaded by naive and uninformed enlightenment ideology, that slums wouldn't exist.

        I'm under the impression what your saying in regards to poverty is wholly fallacious, but I do challenge you offer some evidence.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @01:49AM (2 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @01:49AM (#1212280) Journal

          >With higher income inequality. The ability to move to where things are doing well is a huge part of the reason the developed world exists in the first place. And I find it bizarre that you complain of urbanization while praising a form of it (the above multi-generational household).

          Inequality predominately has to do with the organization of the economy and polity. Loads of anthropological work has shown us there is a huge spectrum by which society can organize itself in long-running civilizations, it's a enlightenment-era fallacy built on uninformed induction that lead us to the current means. But even given the inequality, if your family were to own a household, and if the land was capable of subsistence or better, is inequality particularly relevant? If we didn't socialize people into consumerists? The real outcome here is independence, resilience, and austerity - anti-consumerist. And you've misdefined urban.

          Are you really going to claim that mobility of participants isn't part of the organization of the economy and polity? Because it is. And thus, I neatly sidestep your argument that we have to ignore some of the most important factors in reducing inequality.

          But even given the inequality, if your family were to own a household, and if the land was capable of subsistence or better, is inequality particularly relevant?

          Of course it is. You won't have equal access to the benefits of society, particularly education, economic opportunity, and economic expression. For example, I'm reading through a book on SpaceX's early years, Liftoff. Several of the earliest employees came from rural environments. The first engine designer, Tom Mueller [wikipedia.org] was son of a lumberjack in north Idaho, for example.

          We adopt this multi-generational house thing, then this guy is rotting in North Idaho with whatever paltry education he can get and maybe cutting trees for a living instead of helping create the biggest change in space development since man landed on the Moon. This is the cost - lack of mobility. And all so that you can claim some sort of meager food positive position for people who don't need it. The next sentence is instructive:

          If we didn't socialize people into consumerists? The real outcome here is independence, resilience, and austerity - anti-consumerist. And you've misdefined urban.

          We aren't socializing anything. The "consumerist" is what people want. As to the real outcome, I think this is just Orwellian doublespeak. Subsidence farming is barely surviving. You have nothing outside of your local group to support you. A disaster hits your region and all that is gone. That's the "independence and resilience". As to the "austerity"? Why would we want that? My take is that in practice it's something imposed externally rather than a useful choice to make.

          As for urban, I now grant that multi-generational homes can be rural and that it's an ancient habitation system that predates urbanization altogether.

          With a poorer, larger population - because they wouldn't be in a better place. The developed world appears to be the place you're referring to, perhaps even the US specifically. That part of the world has licked the population growth problem. Without importing high fertility immigrants, the entire developed world would be negative population growth. And of course, it's got the highest distribution of income and wealth too. So sounds like it's solving these problems just fine.

          Poor is relative; in the earliest eras of the new world, and in a more recent example, people inducted into what would commonly be defined as "tribal" societies - even when presented the option - opted to remain with them. I suspect neither you, and I'm certain that I, have never been presented with the option to integrate into a civilization that eschews materialism and in lieu offers the real humanitarian aspects, effectively, what we're evolved for. Instead the "developed world" exchanges these human aspects with abstraction into economic units.

          I've heard the "poor is relative" line before. Sorry, I don't buy that or that tribes work better. For the former, you are poor in an absolute sense, if you can barely feed yourself. As to tribes, where are most of them again? This is where I refer to the concept of economic expression. It's akin to genetic expression. If a gene doesn't have an effect on the world, particularly the organism it's part of, then it will eventually disappear. It doesn't have to have a common or frequent effect, even one that manifests every generation. But if the gene isn't affecting the world, its days are numbered.

          Similarly, if people barely exist economically and politically, then they're at the whim of the powerful forces of the world that have stronger impact.

          >I challenge you to find a place that actually works. Making kids is pretty easy for poor people to do even in crowded slums (with ad hoc production of everything).

          No evidence of instance is not an instance of no presence. For one we can look at the Spartans, a truly austere people. They deployed a wide variety of especially draconian methods to structure their society. One of these policies is well known, which ultimately lead to infanticide but there was also late marriages (30y), and Spartan girls weren't available until they were 18, to contrast with the more common 14 years.

          I don't see your alleged example. Spartan women were high fertility just like their neighbors. If you were talking Spartan women not getting married till they were 30, then you would have an interesting point. Four years is not that significant, particularly given the lethality of childbirth at that time. You're not losing much by starting pregnancies four years later.

          And we're still stuck with that no evidence for your assertion problem.

          As to the "developed world" there's a running theme wherein every nation touched by European imperialism has been classed in the modern era as "developing" or "underdeveloped" which begs a line of questioning I can't satisfy that is deserving of nuanced research as not only is it a question of material theft, but the interplay of diverse cultures and poisoning of the indigenous mind and society. Moreover, in recent times especially, we've only been able to sustain our quality of life through offshoring, which is to say exploiting the poverty that imperialism is likely directly linked to. And this includes immigration, and this I reckon is a hazard, because it's adjusting against a naturally occurring declination for the sake of maintaining the status quo, which would be much improved over the long run for the majority otherwise, and is effectively a continuation of the impoverishment of the masses.

          The begging can be ended by noting that every region almost universally is heading to wealthier, healthier, lower fertility people with societies growing developed world characteristics. The world is developing in the real sense of the world with a growing number of countries on the edge of that development - hence the natural division of the world into developed and developing (with a few undeveloping holdouts that are universally disasters, presently North Korea and Venezuela), with the developed world part growing in a very interesting way.

          As to imperialism and colonialism, we're past most of the 19th century stuff by now. Not much point to complaining about century or longer theft at this point.

          If we took Jared Diamond's thesis into account, wherein Europe was the best-suited continent for the emergence of successful agriculture due to the favorable geography, the biodiversity, thus accessibility of viable cultivars and cultivation - and the further cascading effects that necessarily conditioned them to such a lifestyle wherein land could be made more productive and generating in excess, which ultimately leads to increases in birth, then population density, and evolves into specializations netting a positive feedback loop, and thus displacing the HG populations worldwide through a process of recruitment or extinction. But also this culminates into a system of private property enforced by the state and exploited by those possessed of multi-generational wealth. Which is to say in most cases, a monopoly is enforced by the state to maintain the status quo. Quite a bit of state and federal land is minimally, if at all, meaningfully productive but occupation would be illegal. Ironically the murder and extinction of indigenous Americans was justified on the basis of their disuse of the land.

          This is a great big so what? Some place had to be first. And some place will be last (likely Africa or the undeveloped holdouts). The talk about property, multi-generational wealth (which incidentally your advocacy above doesn't create), old population displacements, and crimes of the distant past really doesn't add anything to our conversation. I'll note that the dynamic of this narrative isn't working now with agriculture improving globally and population growth rates declining globally - that positive feedback is gone.

          Your crowded slums thesis is based on modern era consumer-capitalism wherein systems exist to buffer both the offspring and the parents from being excised, plenty of baffles to prevent them from spilling, including highly processed foods that are nutritionally bereft and have indefinite shelf lives as a product of preservative techne. Foods which very apparently are designed to feed the cattle-esque caricature that is rendered to modernity as the economic unit "human" sold at low cost. My thesis is that had we been allowed to elect a better culture, had we not been goaded by naive and uninformed enlightenment ideology, that slums wouldn't exist.

          Rather my crowded slum thesis is based on the zillion slums out there. And the observation that developed world slums are smaller and less harmful than the ones in the developing world. And the correlation between poverty and higher birth rates.

          As to the "better culture", that sounds a lot like a participation award. I'm not seeing all these great cultures which theoretically work great on a few dozen to a few hundred people, working on a few billion. They just don't scale, even if they do work as advertised. And frankly the "naive and uninformed" "enlightenment ideology" is the best game out there. I don't see anything comparable that would capable of improving billions of peoples' lives over a few decades like the capitalism/democracy mix that we have going on.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @06:40AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @06:40AM (#1212349)

            I think you've ran astray of the point, friend. We're talking about a model of humanity that would've been far better suited to maintaining real independence while dually controlling the population expansion with a natural scarcity. That is to say reigning in the polity, offering equitable opportunity, and ultimately flattening the wealth distribution through better acculturation. Instead we've just enshrined a noveau aristocracy which pulls the strings of the masses of millions in plain sight, the masses of whom you are no doubt counted given your wont to argue for the sake of the supposed "elite". But do go fellate monsignor Musk I'm sure he'll appreciate your capacity for flagrant handwaving in the process.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @07:22AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @07:22AM (#1213351) Journal
              Sorry, I forgot to reply earlier. So this is a bit late.

              I think you've ran astray of the point, friend. We're talking about a model of humanity that would've been far better suited to maintaining real independence while dually controlling the population expansion with a natural scarcity.

              A key scientific principle is that if a model doesn't describe a system very well, then you look for something better - you don't try to shoehorn reality into the model. It holds whether you're speaking of dark matter/energy or models of economics/politics.

              Here, my concern is not coming up with some ideal of human dynamics, but reducing overpopulation and the many harmful effects that come with that. The multi-generational family unit just doesn't explain human behavior well - particularly what is needed to reduce human fertility. A model of human behavior that correlates lower human fertility with empowerment of women and increasing wealth of individuals and families does. Further, that latter model has no need for this "natural scarcity" to control human population growth!

              That is to say reigning in the polity, offering equitable opportunity, and ultimately flattening the wealth distribution through better acculturation. Instead we've just enshrined a noveau aristocracy which pulls the strings of the masses of millions in plain sight, the masses of whom you are no doubt counted given your wont to argue for the sake of the supposed "elite".

              I'm not seeing the point of this part. First, we're just too populous to reign in the polity. Second, we already see that this approach doesn't offer equitable opportunity since the approach creates a stickiness that encourages people to stay in regions with less opportunity. Third, why should we desire to flatten wealth distribution. Sorry, because of that wealth inequality, Musk got to radically change humanity's development of space to the better. I doubt a slightly better wealth equality would have improved your contribution to society beyond this theory. Thus, it seems to me that wealth, while not distributed equally, is distributed better.

              Finally, the bit about "enshrined a noveau aristocracy" is a typically outcome of having a lot of people in a society, just like reigning in the polity. Mass media and elite control is a natural outcome.

              But do go fellate monsignor Musk I'm sure he'll appreciate your capacity for flagrant handwaving in the process.

              Funny how defending someone reasonably is "fellating". I see him instead as a huge proof of the negation of your model. Perhaps you ought to as well.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 11, @08:17PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 11, @08:17PM (#1211892)

    We didn't lose the knowledge of how to grow vegetables or keep livestock on our own land, we lost the will to do it.

    Growing crops (effectively) and even maintaining chickens is work. Chickens don't take vacations, neither do pests on crops - people might like to dabble at growing food, but the commitment required to do it well is beyond what most modern lifestyles can accommodate.

    --
    Україна не входить до складу Росії.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:48PM (#1211935)

      Honestly, I find even a dog to be too much work.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:44PM (#1212134)

      i like the part where "green" city dwellers encountering a lost python drive it to the burbs and dump it next to my chicken coup... "no chicken for you next month, greeny. your python got your share.""

  • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Wednesday January 12, @12:09AM

    by inertnet (4071) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @12:09AM (#1211971)

    Potatoes are an easy starter, just need a shovel and a watering can

    And crop rotation [wikipedia.org], especially if you want to grow potatoes.