March 2008


Daniel,

You argue that the major defining factor of population size is food limits. Australia (to give an example), currently has a birthrate less than 2 births per woman. We have an overall annual immigration, so our population is growing, but if we had no immigration, our population would be decreasing. Australia is a fairly affluent country: plenty of food, people are educated, well supported with social services, and generally feel secure. They don’t need the added security of a large family (I don’t claim that this is causal, but believe it may have some impact). This seems proof that it is at least possible to disconnect population growth from food supply (and then be able to decrease food supply due to decreased demand). You answered this in response to Q&A 122: “the country has traversed the “demographic trap” and gotten through the growth phase of the population dynamics”.

Obviously, as you have pointed out, there’s plenty of food in the world, and if it were (able to be) shared out equitably, then no-one would starve. This being so, wouldn’t the best course of action be, after figuring out the relevant system dynamics, to attempt to give those in the highest population growth areas the same security we in the affluent, and low-population growth, minority world have? This might include immediate food aid for a period or, preferably, some kind of “food asylum”, which might lead to an immediate population spike, but a combined approach of social support services and education, seems like a population growth control method that is more than equitable, just might work, and doesn’t seem like a “sci-fi fantasy”, as you label other birth control schemes.

As an aside, what do you think of permaculture? Seems like a way of at least starting to break the food lockup, and something that doesn’t rely on some kind of fascist revolution.

(This was originally posted on the Ishmael.org guestbook)

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I just finished reading Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael for the second time (I previously downloaded the audio-book, which was amazing, but I think the book is slightly better). If you haven’t read it, read it. I’d say it’d be life-changing for anyone wants to do something about the state of the environment but don’t know where to start. For the ones how have already started, it’s perhaps even more recommended. That said, the rest of this post won’t make sense unless you already have read the book.

Ishmael answers a lot of questions for me – primarily the one that goes “if this isn’t the right way, then what is?”. But of course the answer isn’t final, it isn’t an end point, it’s just an opening. It’s another method of looking at things, and realising how much could change. Which basically means that it brings up more questions than it answers. (more…)

There’s a huge wave of open-licensing sweeping the ‘net, and it’s starting to get into the real world. This is definitely a good thing – freedom of information is a great. The most common licenses, such as the GNU FDL, or the Creative Commons BY-SA stipulate that anyone can use the works, as long as they acknowledge the author, and that they keep it free (usually by using the same license). The last tactic has been called “viral” by numerous capitalists, and they are correct, it is. Eventually it will take over the world, or at least a large part of it. I can’t wait.

Creative Commons, and perhaps a few other licences, give people the option to license their work with a “non-commercial” (NC) clause, This is strongly derided amongst the free software movement particularly, as economic exploitation by a creator is considered a freedom and a right. This is argued well on the Freedom Defined wiki.

There are two main arguments against using an NC license, the first is economic, the second in a matter of compatibility. A third minor argument against the CC-BY-NC-SA, is an argument against creative commons itself. I will deal with these in the above order. (more…)