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How valid is the Malthus trap today

sushi

Active Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
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342
#1
I don't know where to put this topic so I put it here.

How valid is the Malthus trap, overpopulation and resource scarcity today?

Will population growth always grow faster resource and wealth pool, or can this cycle be broken and we'll reach post scarcity.

I am particularly interested in large population countries like India.
 
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A hut in the woods
#2
Joined
Apr 23, 2018
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Little Red Dot
#3
For a some time people have thought that Malthusianism is a dead theory, but it is wishful thinking. Malthusianism always comes back to haunt us in other forms. Currently it reincarnate itself in terms of environmental sustainability. Sure, industrial scale farming averted mass starvation but its sustainability is in question. We are getting better at growing food crops thanks to GM tech, but we are far away from making meat production sustainable. Methane from animal farming is going to be problem, unless we manage to GM our animals to produce less manure, consume less crops and produce more meat (but then there will an ethical dimension). So i don't thnk Malthusianism is going away any time, nor should it go away because it is a constant reminder of what will happen if we ever get complacent.
 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
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Dec 12, 2009
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#4
I think we're at the point where we need to be more worried about running out of energy than running out of food, as long as we have energy we can make food (hydroponics) or produce excess in one place and ship it around the world. But if our energy needs exceed our energy supply we not only lose the ability to make more food we also lose the ability to economically redistribute the food that we have.

 

onesteptwostep

I'm smart and stuff.
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
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#5
Overpopulation isn't really a problem because whenever the quality of life goes up the birth rates go down- drastically. Take Japan or Korea for instance. Japan used to have riots because of a shortage of rice due to overpopulation during the late 18th century and early 19th (around the setting of the Last Samurai) but now in 21th cent. Gundam Japan, they fear their economy would shrink because kids aren't interested enough in raising a family aka lower birth rates. Korea's population grew from 10 million to 80~ million (North and South combined) in the course of 6 decades but now we're having the same fears as Japan, and because of the simple economics of raising a child within our competitive, "rat race" society. Who wants to raise a child when there's all this education and trends and extracurriculars kids have to master these days?

Although the social and pure population dynamics of these countries differ (India vs Japan multi-ethnic vs homogeneous e.g.), stats consistent shows that once female literacy rates rise, birthrates go drastically down, and even more so when capitalistic forces start forcing people to buy unnecessary things to keep the economy cycling, which would hinder child rearing. I'm also sure there are government initiatives if that keep a 'one girl one boy' in a family to be attractive, like what Korea has done, and even China I believe.

Oh interesting fact about China... their male to female ratio is somewhat skewed to men (which in Chinese statistic terms means a shite ton of people), so there's basically a slight slow down of birth rates simply due to that factor alone.

Also I really do not understand why people are talking about food scarcity when we routinely burn/throwaway/foodaidto3rdworldnations excess food just to keep the agriculture industry happy and running smoothly. The US government made cheese famous because they had a huge excess of milk during the 80 or something. Even now they're having cheese problems.

You could say the same thing for rice too. Korea and Japan do not allow trading of rice with China or the US because they could flood the markets here because of their extremely high quantity and ruin the indigenous markets here. Food scarcity is and probably will never be a problem. The problem would most likely have to do with agriculture unions and the economics behinds those industries, not the amount of food itself.
 
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Little Red Dot
#6
Also I really do not understand why people are talking about food scarcity when we routinely burn/throwaway/foodaidto3rdworldnations excess food just to keep the agriculture industry happy and running smoothly. The US government made cheese famous because they had a huge excess of milk during the 80 or something. Even now they're having cheese problems.
Here is a good read from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations if you are interested: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6583e.pdf.

The main challenge is not to produce enough food, but how to maintain the level of production given the climate conditions. In other words, sustainability is the main challenge. We are pretty secured in terms of producing enough, up to 2050, but beyond that, sustainability will become a major headache, given reducing water resources, increasing cost of energy and the increasing production of greenhouse gases from animal farming.
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2011
Messages
36
#7
Do not get me wrong... I am fantastically fond of post-scarcity ideas, particularly those in Post Scarcity Anarchism by Bookchin.We certainly do have the technology to, right now, eliminate the scarcity economy surrounding many commodities. Moreover, I would jump on the chance to usher in a post-scarcity food and shelter economy, even if it would require appropriation. Further, I would want it done as fast as possible (with some limitations). But I do not think that the species will ever evolve the compassion and empathy needed to achieve post-scarcity through any method except in one exceptional circumstance.

If the 'masters' were oppressive enough, violence could be justified. If that were to happen, it would be a horror show and something good may result but that would be an absolute crapshoot as history seems to indicate. So, ignoring the revolutionary possibility, we have to ask ourselves if we could 'reform' our way to such a world. Sadly this is a possibility that I find untenable. Post-scarcity is never and will never be a feasible market strategy. A capitalist will never ask an engineer to produce for him a machine so efficient that their product can be produced for essentially nothing-competitors would learn about the technology and it would not be possible for them to maintain what would be a near supply monopoly.

A state like China may be able to achieve post-scarcity in many areas. However, I am not particularly fond of the CPC at this point as I believe that they are oppressive, truly acting as a state and in many cases even requiring their citizens to move to an entirely new region (look up their new radio telescope, which is pretty amazing by the way). Note that I am not being a red-baiting CNN host-I am red, but also quite black.
 

green acid

Active Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Messages
106
Location
USA
#8
The Malthus trap is generally ignored out of complacency. It always lurks somewhere over the horizon. The earth's carrying capacity is between 9 and 16 billion people. The world's population is currently 7.62 billion (May 2018). Within a few decades it may become a sustainability issue. If the scientists who put the maximum sustainable population at 10 billion or less are correct, we may have to eat India's cattle, or even each other in the future.
 
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