Friday, July 18, 2008

Catastrophists versus Cornucopians

It's been a minute since I last visited the we can do better group blog. In this article, man-made catastrophists (such as myself) get very short shrift. The emphasis is on silly cornucopians and their concerns over possible declines in human population growth.
The faith of the Cornucopians in a radiant future is based on growing growth. To anticipate lower economic expectations, resulting from less people to feed, clothe, house, educate, mobilize, and serve in the army - even if this includes unemployment, crowding, pollution, cementification, and social conflict - goes against the conventional assumption that human inventiveness doesn’t accept biological limits and is the motor of progress.

The over-optimistic view that purports humanity’s capacity to overcome every difficulty, with time, technology and lots of human beings, has turned on its head, when confronted with the awful perspective of a diminishing population.

If humans are so deft in inventing new solutions to ever increasing problems, what then stands in the way of creating new solutions to the economic affliction of demographic decline, publicised by the press and governments as the ultimate tragic event?
The highlight of the article was this historical bon mot addressing the inflection point of the european middle ages;
Back in 1348, Europe suffered the Black Death or Plague, the second worst catastrophe in recorded history, which reduced the estimated European population by about a third.

It also brought stability, progress and freedom from want to the people who escaped death. As the distinguished scholar David Herlihy pointed out, the great reduction in population created opportunities for the survivors and those who came after them; there were fewer people, more jobs and a higher standard of living. (David Herlihy and Samuel K., Jr. Cohn)

Another historian agrees that, before the Black Death the continent “was caught in a Malthusian deadlock” in which “the balance between people and resources had become very tight.” After the plague, Europe “emerged from the charnel house of pestilence and epidemic cleansed and renewed, like the sun after rain.”(John Kelly)

Moreover: “Serfdom declined more rapidly. The status of women rose. Wages rose for common people. Talented young people were able to advance faster. The power of the kings declined more rapidly.” (Norman Cantor ) It is an indisputable fact that the sudden population decline stimulated labour-saving technologies that transformed the economy.
Such an inflection point is most definitely on our global species event horizon. See it yet?


Emma-jade3662 said...

his a poo