Thursday, May 8, 2014

population equation


It used to be, not too long ago, extra population equaled national strategic value.  Ten thousand years ago, once the Agricultural Revolution took over the place, civilizations started forming ( grain surplus being the catalyst ).  Extra people was just the ticket.  Extra farmers equaled extra food equaled extra soldiers equaled extra conquered lands and the whole thing fed on itself.  Then, if anything interrupted that cycle, it fed on itself negatively.  All those extra mouths became a drain on resource rather than a tool to get extra resources.  A grain shortage meant farmers started dying, soldiers were too weak to defend themselves from a new imperial upstart, etc.  The Industrial Revolution allowed carbon fuels to augment extra population.  The tools of military conquest advanced exponentially, but you still benefited from extra farmers and soldiers.  Up to a point.  During World War Two, the biggest populations with the biggest industry still won, all things being equal ( Japan and Germany were able to mobilize a higher percentage of the population to make up for their smaller populations ). 


But now that we have reached the point of carbon fuel plateau, increased population at its present state is no longer an asset but a liability.  Peak Oil, climate instability ( not Gore Warming, just a return to the norm ) and resource depletion ( when we had extra oil, you could extract less dense ores.  Those are now disappearing ) will NOT reward extra population.  The American fixation on consumer growth in a climate of income decline meant adding immigrants and inflation to keep up the bankers profits.  Now there are no more profits to be had, not real ones.  The financialization bubble has popped.  Yet previous policies to encourage population growth continue ( welfare for babies, Latino immigration ).  We are in a resource decline, population growth paradigm.  And it ain’t going to end well.  Look at the Rwanda genocide.  Too much population fighting over dwindling plots of farmland.  Here we have aquifer depletion, fuel input cost escalation, credit shrinking to finance mega-farms, Chinese price bidding on commodities ( look at the cost increase of baby formula, the result of Chinese families bidding up the price to avoid their domestic arsenic laden slop ), among other factors such as long distant food transportation and soil depletion.  Yet every swinging dingus in charge will defend population growth until the end.  Because their profit is more important than your life.

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