Joined: June 2007
if carrying capacity is defined as the author uses it then I suspect he may have a point. a major platform of his argument is that technological innovations have artificially increased carrying capacity K (or perhaps more precisely, have given the illusion of an increased K). Thus soil fertility, as humans have known it for about 10,000 years, is a product of ecological process and not technological process, then the limiting factors on soil fertility define carrying capacity.
As he points out this is a very old argument. Marx even toyed with these ideas (excellent book, review here). Wendell Berry and Wesley Jackson have emphasized these issues for years. The story of agriculture origins, told in a similar fashion in this article, is the basis of the narratives of Daniel Quinn (who sees the Edenic and Cain-Abel stories of Genesis as metaphor for the transition from hunter-gatherer to exploitative agriculture).
|We are not made for civilization, and man-made systems and institutions cannot solve the problem because our instincts and behavior is that of a "jungle animal".|
I would tend to agree. yet I am afraid that many of our more shall we say positivist friends and neighbors might view this sentiment as anti-science or at least anti-social, possibly even Republican. I view it as "paleoconservative", and that by my reckoning is a good thing.
|Ecosystems are rarely stable. They go through changes and shocks as various aspects of the system evolve. Humans are obviously putting a huge burden on the Earth—to their own detriment. It may result in a precipitous drop in the human population, but the result will not look like hunter-gatherer societies. It will be something else entirely.|
Indeed, no ecosystem is stable and Dollo's Law. Another dialectical insight. Yet I wonder why it should not be, if this argument is true (and imagine for the moment that these solutions are put into practice, another issue entirely), that the result is not something that more closely resembles traditional hunter-gatherer societies than anything else. Clearly there are sustainable solutions that have been derived from the industrial model (water ground corn, for instance, alternatively note the immense amount of existing construction material for micro-hydropower systems and solar energies). These will not disappear. But if we focus solely on the argument from soil depletion, then it seems clear to me that the limiting factor is the way we treat our dirt. The expansion of euros into N America, and particularly the plantation style agricultures and post-industrial mechanized exploitation, have been an exposition of the willful destruction of soil fertility. If fossil fuel decline is real, then this poses an extremely serious problem for the future of big ag.
|It is quite possible for the Earth to sustain billions of people, however, that would require a careful management of resources, something humans have yet to master. First and foremost is population control so that some semblance of balance can be achieved. |
It is only possible if we are to continue the soil depleting method of intense agriculture, and there are reasons to consider that perhaps this method will implode. For instance, as already noted, this method is extremely dependent on fossil fuel production (not only for fertilizer manufacture but perhaps more importantly transportation to markets, vital for stabilizing market forces and enabling the continued production of these items). What will be the result of phosphorous depletion and/or fossil fuel depletion? Drastic decrease of the perceived carrying capacity we currently enjoy due to technological innovation and unsustainable resource use.
The scary question is "How would population control realistically be achieved, without massive bloodshed and political upheaval?" I suspect that it will not be achieved without disastrous effect, but as others have pointed out perceived consequences do not alter biological reality.
nice catch stevestory. enjoyable read.
You're obviously illiterate as hell. Peach, bro.-FtK
Finding something hard to believe based on the evidence, is science.-JoeG
the odds of getting some loathsome taint are low-- Gordon E Mullings Manjack Heights Montserrat
I work on molecular systems with pathway charts and such.-Giggles