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The Morality of the Overcrowded Lifeboat
Intro. The replacement of one race by another has happened before. For example, 30000 years ago Cro-Magnon was outcompeting Neanderthal for food resources. Neanderthal couldn't comprehend the innovative Cro-Magnon hunting technologies, such as the manufacture of good ranged weapons, or his techniques, including the use of grassfires to stampede herds of bison into a box canyon. So Cro-Magnon got all the prizes, leaving Neanderthal with little or nothing. And here we are, we the European descendants of Cro-Magnon, in a world without Neanderthals or their descendants. This is a natural process, and it happens all the time in every family of living creature: genetic variation, speciation, struggle and replacement. If you'd rather be the replacer than the replaced, then think carefully, understand which team you're really on, and fight well. [Jerry Abbott, referring to the global food riots that began in the poor countries in 2008.]

Part 1. The classic example of the issues involved: The Wreck of the William Brown.

The behavior of people in a situation of extreme scarcity, and the response to it, is a raw area where moral philosophy struggles to answer controversy. The story of the shipwreck of the William Brown, of Philadelphia, USA, while sailing from Liverpool, England, in March 1841, is one that nearly all priests and ministers like to tell, even if they don't know the story in detail, and even if the moral lesson they attempt to draw is the wrong one.

The ship hit an iceberg and sank. The ship's jollyboat (commanded by Cpt. George L. Harris) and its longboat (commanded by ship's mate Frances Rhodes) were both crowded, the longboat dangerously so. In addition, the longboat was leaking due to its excessive weight, which portended the death of everyone aboard. The commanders of both boats decided to head for a landing in Newfoundland.

There were 31 other passengers who missed both the captain's jolly boat and the longboat with the first mate. They went down with the ship. Imagine. 31 people looking enviously at the departing boats, muttering angrily to each other "It isn't fair!" "Damn right it isn't!" "What makes them better than us anyhow?" "I paid good money to get back to Philadelphia, and the captain is going to hear from my lawy...glub glub glub."

It became clear that the longboat would not go far unless it were made lighter. So the mate and some of his sailors started throwing some of the others overboard, both passengers and crew, but chiefly targeting males for getting the toss. It's not that they were heavier, exactly, since among those ejected were two boys, one of them 12 years old, the other being 18 and skinny. The older boy didn't have to be tossed. When he was "chosen," he cooperated, jumping overboard after being allowed to say his prayers. The younger of the boys saved his life by stealthily hanging on to the rear of the boat, keeping his head above water.

The first man to be thrown over was an obedient sailor named Riley. The mate asked him to stand up, and he did. Then the mate or someone assisting him grabbed Riley and tossed him into the ocean, where he drowned.

One man, a sailor named Charles Conlin, tried to appeal to the mate and his helpers through friendship, saying: "Holmes dear, sure you won't put me out?" (Holmes was Rhodes' main assistant in the toss party.) Conlin was tossed out.

One man, Frank Askin, tried to buy his life with gold, offering the mate five large coins as a bribe. But in that situation money was worthless, and Askin was grabbed and tossed overboard. Apparently in his struggles he attempted to swamp the lifeboat, but this was prevented.

But another man, a sailor named John Messer, successfully prevented his own tossing by menacing the mate and his party with a knife. He had to be ever-vigilant, of course, and it turned out that Messer was the one who, the following day, first sighted the sails of the Crescent (Cpt. S.J. Ball), whereupon the threat to him ended.

By the time they were finished, the mate had thrown overboard 16 men and boys, and 2 women. The women were the sisters of Frank Askin, and it is said that they jumped voluntarily after the mate tossed their brother into the sea. All together, these sacrifices made it possible for the longboat to remain afloat, which enabled the other 23 passengers to be rescued.

Upon their return to civilization, a maritime court of inquiry examined the behavior of Frances Rhodes and sailor Holmes, but they were unable to find fault with them, given the circumstances.

You can read the story in even greater detail at these pages:

There's more than one lesson to be learned in that story. Here are the big ones:

1. When it is not possible for everyone to live, the phrase "half is better than none" is as true for people as it is for loaves of bread. Fairness is irrelevant.

It is sometimes necessary that some die to save others, because the only alternative is for everyone to die and there be no survivors at all. However, when this kind of situation arises, each person will regard himself as having exceptional merit which puts him firmly in the class privileged with survival. Everyone else might be expendable, but not himself!

In an emergency, anyone who speaks of "fairness" and believes it is a fool (a bleating sheep). And anyone who speaks of fairness without believing it is a sneaky predator (a jackal). There will usually be bleating sheep, but the jackals will outnumber them.

2. When some must be sacrificed to save others, a dictatorship is necessary.

There are no other conflicts so intractable as those for which life for some means death for the others. Neither argument nor bribery, will persuade someone to sacrifice himself. An appeal to sentiments, such as patriotism or family love, will sometimes be successful in getting someone to volunteer to be a sacrifice, but not always. Perhaps not usually. When a substantial number of sacrifices is required, they must be taken by violence, and nothing else will substitute.

To supply the necessary violence to secure the number of sacrifices required to save the rest of the people, there must be an effective local government of a dictatorial nature. This government may not sacrifice themselves
at least, not until the very lastbecause then there would be no one with both the will and the ability to complete the required number of sacrifices.

In an emergency, a democratic process would be unable to make the required number of sacrifices in the available time. Although democracies are notorious for their characteristic of "two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner," the slaughter of the sheep always involves deception. Some of the wolves, for example, are the kind of people who will eat meat, but don't want to watch or to be the butcher. Some of the sheep must be persuaded that the slaughterhouse is really a funhouse. And some of the sheep must be persuaded that they are wolves, at least, until it is time for the real wolves to correct the misapprehension.

In an emergency, such as that on the William Brown's longboat, the mate might have called for a vote on who to toss
but there would be the equivalent of "nominations" and "caucuses" and "campaign speeches" and pleas of extenuating circumstances every time the next sacrifice was considered. And they'd have to be carried out one-by-one, or else those who were selected for tossing would revolt en masse.

Nothing must be done to warn the sacrifices in advance that they've been selected. If they were warned, they would join their strength and it might be impossible to sacrifice them. That's why the William Brown's mate didn't offer to cast lots to see decide who aboard the longboat would be tossed. Everyone who drew the short straws would immediately become a self-conscious subclass, and they would at once have engaged in defensive maneuvers. The struggle would have imperiled everyone in the boat.

3. Neither money nor appeals to sentiment can buy your life when the cost of maintaining it threatens the life of the one whom you would bribe.

Frank Askin and Charles Conlin learned these truths too late.

Obedience to authority can't save you, either, when the authority already has a sufficient number of willing servants. Obedience, in an emergency, sometimes kills the obedient.

Sailor Riley learned this lesson too late.
He obeyed his senior officer and thus collaborated in his own death. Riley knew that somebody had to go, or the longboat would sink. He'd been discussing that very subject with his fellow sailors during the past few hours. Riley might have figured on being named one of the tossers, rather than being chosen as a tossee, or perhaps the theory of tossing had not yet been confirmed in his mind as a gory reality. His fatal mistake was in not being suspicious of authority's intentions when it came to call upon him.

5. When you must, to save your own life, resist the desperate measures of those who are also trying to survive, the only recourse that will work for you is violence, or the creditable threat thereof.

Someone resisting sacrifice doesn't always need to be stronger than the opposing group. Sometimes, he only needs to be strong enough to make fighting him not worthwhile.

Remember the story about two men, running from a hungry bear, and one man yells "Stop! I have an idea!" He stops running and begins to change from his dress shoes into his running shoes. The other man, confused, had stopped running too. The bear was getting closer and closer. "Why are you changing your shoes now?" asked the confused man. "Because," said the other, "I just realized that I don't need to outrun the bear. I only need to outrun you," and he took off like a dart.

That is the logic that saved the life of sailor John Messer. He wasn't as strong as the group of men opposed to him, but he was strong enough to convince them that they should choose other victims.

6. Not all lives are of equal value.

Suppose that the occupants of the longboat had not had the good fortune to be rescued by the Crescent. They would have had to make their way to Newfoundland, which was presumably the easiest landfall available to them. In order to get there, the longboat would need guiding by someone who understood the principles of ocean navigation. The ablest navigator must not be sacrificed, since, if he were, the longboat might wander aimlessly at sea until everyone aboard starved, and, in that case, all of the previous sacrifices required to remain afloat would have been in vain.

I reviewed the story of the William Brown disaster because it is very similar in some ways to the approaching apocalyptic end of the industrial age. The world will be an overcrowded lifeboat, and it won't be possible for everyone to survive. The survivor to sacrifice ratio for the William Brown's longboat was 1.28. Somewhat more people lived than died.

That same ratio for the apocalypse will be much lower: only about 0.05. For each survivor, there will be 20 deaths. That's where capitalism has taken us, Ayn Rand.

For the situation on the William Brown's longboat to be commensurate to that of the world during the apocalypse, mate Frances Rhodes and sailor Holmes would have had to keep tossing people overboard until they, just the two of them, were the only ones left aboard.

There is some conflict among the several accounts of the shipwreck. From the court records, it appears that the longboat was in the water 24 hours before the tossing began. Further, only male passengers were tossed (says this document) and of the ship's crew none were tossed, not even the ship's cook, who was a Negro. The sailors elected to sacrifice two skinny White boys instead of a fat Black male who outweighed both of them together. Now that was wrong.

I suspect that Frank Askin
the man who tried to bribe the mate for an exemption from tossingwas a Jew. The attempted bribery itself suggests this, and there's the fact that of all those tossed the only charge against sailor Holmes, back in the US, was for the murder of Askin. Not for Riley or Duffy or Charley or either of those boys. Only Frank Askin was "special" enough to have a high-ranking prosecutor seeking a posthumous vengeance. Imagine this Jew holding out five gold sovereigns to Rhodes and Holmes, as if the peril to everyone were a matter of secondary importance, as if his gold were able to buy him a significance that no one else had.

It further appears that sailor Holmes was convicted of manslaughter, but his punishment was much less than the maximum. He was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of $20. However, even this was "remitted," which is this context means the penalty was commuted to a suspended sentence.

Part 2. Turning a population bottleneck to advantage: When Quantity Must Go, Save Quality.

MonteQuest wrote: You go to front of the "first to go" list. Sometimes I thinking "culling the herd" will be easy. Obvious humor aside, technology is what caused us to exceed our limits so soon. Didn't you read the Tragedy of the Commons? There are no techno-fixes for this.

linlithgowoil wrote: You obviously have something against the human race if you refer to it as a herd and think it needs to be culled. I suppose you think you should be the guy chosing who dies then eh? And obviously you wouldn't be one of the unlucky ones who have to die .... thought so.

He might have been joking, since he said so. But I'm not.

When quantity must go, save quality. If disaster must come, then turn it as much as possible to advantage. Who lives needn't be so much decided as discovered
in the same manner that the winner of an honest sporting event is discovered, and not decided beforehand.

Let there be "Olympics," of mind and character, as well as body. Let's see who is the most superior of intelligence, of ability to function in danger/while hurt/under pressure, of sensory acuity, strength, speed and muscle coordination. And of basic morals. The top 10% of humanity will be found by competition, and they might earn with their victories a place in the Lifeboat. The losers shall stay in the old William Brown.

Because of the way heredity works, quality can replicate any desired quantity faster than the reverse, and so when one must be sacrificed to save the other, jettison quantity, keep quality, and the race will profit.

gg3 wrote [comments in brackets by Jenab6]: Meanwhile, back to "freedom to breed." Determine the sustainable population for Earth and the number of years at most before that level must be reached in order to avoid tipping the planet into more than a +2 Celsius scenario. [check] Subtract that number from the current 6.5 billion, to arrive at the population decrease needed. [check] Calculate, based on likely death rates, the maximum number of births per year that will meet the goal. [check] Divide births by households, to arrive at the permissible number of babies [per household] per year. [ch... uh, NO!] Ration the babies via a lottery in each locale. [NO!] You win the lottery, you get to make a baby. [NO!] You can keep entering until you win, and then you're not eligible to re-enter the lottery for some number of years thereafter. Problem solved. [More like: Opportunity wasted.] If only humans were quite so rational... [Sarcastic retort withheld]

When quantity must go, save quality. Do not apportion births by lottery; apportion them by merit, as measured by competitive challenges. You want the best people to breed, so that the humanity of the future will be smarter, stronger, healthier, better coordinated, and better behaved than was the humanity of the past. Heredity has at least some influence on all these attributes, and quality can regenerate quantity if it becomes necessary or advantageous to increase the population later.

Wildwell wrote: The reason I mention immigration is because that’s where the rise in population is mostly coming from in the west. If you argue that we must limit population growth, we must also limit immigration. You cannot say to the indigenous population you cannot have children, but we’ll still allow people into the country.

Correct so far.

Wildwell wrote: The population question is a red hering. The vast majority of the world’s population use little or no fossil fuel energy. It’s far more sensible to look at the energy intensive activities of people in the west, and I’m afraid that comes down to personal transport and aviation as well as trading blocks, globalisation and so on. As for the third world, they should start by using renewable energy and not make the mistakes the west has.

Although the West must power down, it isn't true that the Third World uses "little or no fossil fuel energy." Everyone who eats, except those who eat only wild and homegrown organic foods, cultivated with hand-tools by farmers with the same dietary restriction, uses fossil fuel energy. The Green Revolution was all about using fossil fuels for tractor fuel and fertilizers. It will be reversed as fossil fuel supplies decline. More fossil fuels are used to transport foods across oceans and across land to the people who end up eating it. Those means of transportation will also disappear.

South Africa and Rhodesia used to feed Africa. Now the USA and Argentina do. Soon China will outbid everyone else for food on the global market, and Africa will starve. Subsequently, shortages of food in the countries that once supplied it to the global markets will force them to stop doing so, and China will starve
though it might try a conquest of the countries to its south, west, and northwest, to steal their food and farmland.

EnergySpin wrote:
Wildwell If you want to talk about immigration by all means start the conversation yourself. I chose not to talk about immigration because securing infrastructure world wide will require people to move from the West to the developed world and probably vice versa. We are in this together. Permit me to have a more liberal view on this subject...

We are "in this together" in the sense that we are on the same planet and must draw on the same pool of global resources to sustain our existence. But that doesn't mean that everybody has the same access to those resources. Access varies. It must. That is how it should be. Fairness isn't a moral imperative; it is a moral luxury that we can no longer afford. The result of apportioning resources in "equal shares" (e.g., of calories), if that could even be done, would only result in everyone starving, fairly, together.

Think of Earth as a sinking ship with too few lifeboats to get everyone away. An attempt to save all will kill all when the overcrowded lifeboats sink, too. So some must die. When quantity cannot be sustained, preserve quality, or at least try to do the best you can in that regard.

Part 3. On the Virtue of Preparedness, the Need for a High Birth Rate Despite Overpopulation, and
the Eugenic Function of Low-Techology Warfare in an Ecologically Competitive World.

MonteQuest wrote:
[When a population overshoots its resource base], the organism starts to lose the ability to reproduce.

Some of that is the result of women delaying their first attempt to conceive until college and career establishment are accomplished. The fertility of women is greatest between the ages of 14 and 19, trailing off thereafter. The ability of a woman's body to deliver a first baby safely reaches a maximum at about ages 17-21. If she has a first baby about then, her body will "learn" how to give birth and she will gain the advantage of easier delivery for her later children.

zensui wrote:
do you have citations to this fertility claims?

Prof. S.J. Holmes wrote: "The liability of women to conceive falls off quite rapidly after the twentieth year... Galton has established the fertility of women marrying at the ages of 17, 22, 27, and 32 as roughly in the ratio of six, five, four, and three, respectively. An increase of the average age at marriage, therefore, would have a potent effect in lowering the birthrate." [S. J. Holmes, Studies in Evolution and Genetics, New York, 1923, pp. 117-8, and Human Genetics and Its Social Import, McGraw, 1936, p. 197. ]

See also: Prof. Ellsworth Huntington & Leon F. Whitney, The Builders of America, Morrow, 1927, p. 117-120.

Anthony M. Ludovici wrote:
"The more closely they [medical reports] approach the present age and the modern scientific view... the more inevitably are we driven to the conclusion that labour before 20 is more favorable than after, and that the decline in efficiency is rapid after the twentieth year." [A. M. Ludovici, The Truth About Childbirth, Dutton, 1938, pp. 76-8, pp. 136-153, pp. 154ff.]

G. Nicola wrote:
"Delivery [before age 20] is normal and of short duration. Surgical intervention in pregnancy, delivery or afterbirth are rarely necessary. The vertex presentation is the most frequent in deliveries at full term. Transverse and other abnormal presentations are unusual. Pelvic abnormalities are rare. The joints of the pelvis of young girls have a great mobility and the contractions of the uterus are energetic." ["Pregnancy and Parturition in Early Youth," by G. Nicola, Annali di Ostetricia e Ginecologia & (digest) Journal of the American Medical Association, 1938, p. 196.]

Dr. Hugo Sellheim wrote (translated by Ludovici):
"This transient function [childbirth] in which an adequate passage has to be made for the foetus by stretching the muscles of the pelvic floor to the limit of their elasticity-i.e., without damage to their essential and permanent function of keeping the pelvic outlet closed-can be performed by the pelvic floor only in normal, healthy, and fully developed girls, in whom the muscles are still resilient. In older primiparae, not only is the extra tissue growth in the birth canal necessary for the function defective, but there is also imperfect resilience, and defective increase of elasticity at the critical moment. To compensate for the fefects the tissues are stretched beyond the limit of their resiliance, with tears and lacerations as the result. In the youthful elastic primparae, however, this extreme compensatory sacrifice is only exceptionally called for, and on a much smaller scale. Only female organisms just attained to full development seem capable of further bodily development during pregnancy. For this is precisely what is necessary to secure perfect functions in motherhood, more especially in forming the birth canal without damage. An organism, which has already waited a long time in the developed state, is no longer fit for this function... In the woman who has had her first child in youth, the pelvic floor retains its capacity to form the birth canal for later births without damage, because this capacity is acquired with her first birth, provided this occurs at the right time." [Dr. Hugo Sellheim, Prof. Doctor of Medicine, Medical Adviser and Director of the Women's Clinic of Leipzig University, in Wer Ist's, Berlin, 1935. See Zeitschrift fur Soziale Medizin, Leipzig, 1910, vol V, Heft 1, pp. 128-130, quoted by Ludovici in The Truth About Childbirth, pp. 159-160.]

Dr. M. Fetzler, a student of Dr. Sellheim, wrote:
"The chance of incurring disability were almost three times greater in primiparae of 28 than in primiparae of 20, twelve times treater in primiparae of 30 than in primiparae of 19, and before 19 the chances were nil."

Pogma wrote:
What a bizarre thread, if taken seriously one might consider suicide. The world or the economy isn't about to end or run out of ANY fuels for godsakes.

Yes, we are, Pogma. The trouble starts before we run out though, i.e., when the power supply falls too far below power demand. But don't commit suicide. Surviving the die-off is the ultimate challenge.

Think of it as a game where you have lots of possible moves: tricking your neighbors into leaving you alone with false rumors that someone in your house has the Black Death, telling the sheriff who comes to confiscate your hidden food that two guys claiming to be his deputies carried it all away last week, etc. And then there's the pure schadenfreud, the smug sense of superiority, that you have the means of survival and others don't because you prepared wisely while they laughed at you for being a "conspiracy theorist." Now it's your turn to laugh. Enjoy it!

Pogma wrote:
There's nothing wrong with necesary killing {eg, self defense}, but some of you people seem to be suggesting that we MURDER 55m a this your position?

Nobody's going to murder 55 million people per year. They will die because there will be no food for them to eat. The reason there will be no food for them to eat is that there won't be enough fuel for all the tractors and harvesters, not enough artificial fertilizer, not enough pesticide, not enough fuel for the distribution to the market of the food that does get grown, etc. They're goNNA DIEEE! But we aren't gonna kill 'em. We're just going to laugh (quietly, in our basements) as they stumble around the neighborhood like zombies piteously hooting "food, fooooood!" and fighting over a bean that somebody dropped on the sidewalk.

Eustacian wrote:
This is definitely not far fetched. Here in the Seattle WA area there are charities who already pay women (mostly homeless, drug addicted women) up to $500 for sterilization or other long term birth control. There was even a period where men were offered the option of vasectomy for the cash. There was lots of news in the lefty media about how they were buying a womans god given right to reproduce. The liberals were in an uproar to say the least. Nonetheless, the program is still in operation. Of course the motive is not to reduce the population as a whole but to reduce babies born to people who cannot support them, or who are drug addicted.

It has been my opinion for a long time that irreversible sterilization should be required in order to qualify for public assistance, such as AFDC, food stamps, and other welfare programs. I also think that no food relief should be exported except such as will render anyone who eats it permanently infertile. (I suggested this to several members of Congress in the mid-1980s. One of them wrote back to deplore the idea and to say he'd never support it.)

Eustacian wrote:
I wanted to add just one more thing to this post. A few messages back someone indicated they felt the population could be maintained at a high level with 1984esque big brother control over the populace, to prevent riots, distribute basic necessities, etc. It is amazing that anybody would actually promote a big brother situation to be a blessing. One thing we have to realize of course, is that in "1984" the government had to maintain a constant war in order to maintain control over the population. Maintaining that level of war will deplete our remaining energy during the hardest period of decline. A centralized, big brother regime is not going to save Americait is the exact opposite of what I think is neededlocalization, tribal/communal living arrangements, etc.

You aren't going to save any sort of continent spanning state by any means. Dictatorship isn't the problem. Scale is. The bigger a state is, relative to the time required for information and troops to get from one side to another, the more difficult it is to suppress rebellions. So in the far future (post 2100) I expect at least political balkanization
"states" the size of one or a few counties/parishes, and some of them may be dictatorships, and some of those might be well-run.

dohboi wrote: My wife was 36 when she had her first and only child. Both are healthy. We have to give up on "ideal" and go for what is remotely doable. As I've said earlier the only way I can see of preserving any "right to procreate" in the face of massive and rapidly expanding overpopulation, is limit each couple to one child, and that only after the woman is at least 25, with benefits increasing for older births.

Sometimes the kneejerk answer isn't the right one. I propose a different sort of remedy to overpopulation, namely, war. Let us set our women to breeding babies hell-for-leather, raising all children with emphasis on physical fitness, muscular development, military training, and (of course) racial patriotism, giving each an IQ test at age 16, then sending them into combat duty for a period of 24 - 0.2(IQ) years, if positive, or receive a "procreation subsidy" of $200(IQ) - $24000, per year, if positive.

The land our soldiers take over will be theirs to settle, after their tour of duty is completed, subject to recall if their land is invaded by the enemy in the future. They will be set to work creating a new generation of soldiers for another wave of conquest, in which our race supplants other races
sort of the reverse of what Blacks and Mestizos are doing to us now.

One thing we must do, though, before we set out to reconquer California and Texas, is use our soldiers to round up the Federal Reserve governors and every member of their "advisory council," arrest them, and hold them absolutely incommunicado until they sign legal papers utterly forgiving the public debt of the United States, all endebtedness by the several states, and all private parties, corporate and individual, who owe any money to any bank. Or else we shoot them, and their heirs, and anyone else who might have a legal claim to money to which they have no moral claim because they never did any work to earn it.

dohboi wrote:  the world is already heading in this direction as women get more education...and these trends should be encouraged by every means.

How about... we don't educate women (much). In a world where even men don't need to be astrophysicists anymore, surely they must learn to be carpenters, masons, farmers, hunters and trappers, instead, and even more surely women can learn those home economics subjects like they used to. Tarzan brings home the meat. Jane bakes the bread. They take turns milking the goats until Boy is six years old. Then he does it.

zensui wrote: Jenab6, you fool. War is not a solution. We will start it over again if we don't learn to live within limits.

I disagree. We won't be able to "start it all over again" because there won't be any fossil fuels to do it again with. War is the right answer. Voluntary population reductions is the wrong answer. Why? Read Garrett Hardin's essay "The Tragedy of the Commons." He explains why voluntary population reductions don't work at the level of individuals. I've extended it to show why it won't work for nations.

Hardin explained that when individuals are asked to limit their family size so that population growth can be checked, some people will heed the call and try to act "responsibly." Others will be more selfish and less responsible. As the generations go by, the irresponsible and selfish people have more children than the obedient ones do, and whatever quality made for volunteerism in the matter of limiting family size will eventually be bred out of the population. The selfish genes will displace the socially responsible ones, and thereafter moral appeals to limit population size will have no effect on anyone's conscience or on their breeding habits.

A similar thing is true for nations. As long as technology exists, it can play the guardian role for a nation that restricts its breeding for sensible reasons of ecology or economics. Technology requires power (watts, joules per second) for its operation, however, and we are about to run short on such power (watts). After the power (watts) goes, the technology will not function, and the (political, military) power will shift at once to nations that did not limit their breeding and, hence, have large surplus populations to use on military adventures. It can be assumed, I think, that the leaders of such populous countries will notice any plums that are ripe for plucking, and the ripest plums will be the low population density rich countries that no longer have working high-tech weapons to protect them.

Voluntary limitations on population size don't work for either individuals or nations. The right way to limit population size is low technology warfare. By war, man provides himself with the eugenic predator that nature doesn't otherwise afford him. So breed them soldiers, train them, give them weapons, point them at the enemy, and yell CHARGE!

Ludi wrote: Educating and empowering women has been one of the most successful ways of reducing population growth.

It really doesn't matter how or why population growth is limited. What matters is that not every group will limit their own growth. The problem is the "Tragedy of the Commons" that Hardin explained, except that the displacement occurs as the result of international or interracial competition, instead of the interpersonal competition assumed by Hardin's illustration. Again, it matters not at all whether the reason for a particular country's population reduction is educating women, or abortion, or infanticide, or the Carousel from Logan's Run. When the energy needed by technological national defenses is gone, as sooner or later it will be, then countries with small populations will be vulnerable to conquest by countries with large populations. Population reduction, by whatever means, is a fast lane to national extermination or enslavement in the coming low tech world.

Why is it that some people who can show a remarkable degree of good sense in some areas, can't apply the same intellectual prowess when the right answer is not also a nice answer?

Ludi wrote: What "right answer"? Yours isn't a "right answer." It is only "your answer." Small, weak countries or populations will probably be wiped out in the future by larger, stronger populations. Oh well. Later on, when we've gone back to the stone age, all populations will have equal technological ability, hence equal strength, and population will stabilize in the way it used to before civilization was invented. Problem solved.

I suppose that if it doesn't matter to you which people, or what sort of people, the survivors are, then your point of view is understandable. Some of us, however, have preferences in that regard. And anyone who would have his own nation be among the survivors will have to oppose voluntary population reductions, since to advocate them is to advocate national military weakness in an ecologically competitive low technology world. Bear that in mind whenever you believe that you should write the pronoun "we." We who? That "we" might not include you, nor yours, if you make it a habit to insist that the right answer is merely another answer.

Even in the post-dieoff steady state, human tribes will find it wise to maintain a high birthrate. The tribes will again fill the Earth until it has reached the contemporary logistic maximum population, at no later than which time, they will begin attempting, incessantly, to enlarge their populations by the "takeover" method of warfare. This condition of life will never end, and the only thing peaceniks of those future times will achieve is the extinction of their own tribes after their more aggressive neighbors defeat them and take from them all that they have.

Jerry Abbott

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very interesting story of the life boats....

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