Friday, March 16, 2012

Lemming Tracks: 'And We're All Gonna Die!' or, not

The Lemming explained the sort of 'apathy' you'll find in this blog. It's not that the Lemming doesn't care about stuff. The Lemming just doesn't care about the 'right' stuff. Like how hopelessly awful everything always is.

Remember how the oceans would be dead by 1980? But it didn't matter, because the coming ice age would wipe out civilization?

Then there was the horrible death by starvation of all humanity that happened last year. Or would have, if the Lemming's deliberately screwball logic had been valid.

That particular doomsday prediction showed up in another blog by the Lemming:

Homo Sapiens, Statistics, and Silly Assumptions

"7,000,000,000 People, More or Less: Why I'm Not Alarmed"
A Catholic Citizen in America (October 31, 2011)

"Depending on who you listen to, the 7,000,000,000th member of humanity was born at two minutes past midnight today. Or, not. Since we don't have absolutely accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable statistics for everyone, that 'seven billionth' person is an educated guess.1

"Still, 7,000,000,000 is a whole lot more folks than live here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Or in Minnesota's Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, for that matter.

"I did a little checking, and found out that everybody's going to die horribly in maybe a month or so: If I make a few assumptions. Here's the data I started with. To the best of my knowledge, it's accurate:2..."

The data is accurate enough. What the Lemming did with the data in that post was anything-but.

Next time you read about 'sustainable' something: think about assumptions that may have been made.

Here's what the Lemming came up with, in October of last year:

"'Absolute maximum sustainable human population' for Earth, under ideal conditions, using:"
  • All land, including Antarctica
    • 8,364,000
  • All land, and water
    • 28,135,000
  • Current world population (estimate)
    • 7,000,000,000
" 'Obviously,' we're doomed!"
(A Catholic Citizen in America)

That's because today, humanity's population is somewhere between a few hundred and a thousand times over Earth's 'sustainable' 'carrying capacity' for our species.

And has been for some time now.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What the Lemming did was take quite real data about how much land it takes to support one human being. Assuming that the human being:
  • Is a large omnivore
    • True, as far as that goes
  • Has decided to stick with hunting and gathering
    • True, for a miniscule fraction of humanity
    • Nearly all human beings use agriculture
      • Directly or indirectly
      • And have, for the last 10,000 years
The problem today isn't producing enough food: it's getting the food to folks who need it.

Real Problems, Weird Solutions

This isn't a perfect world. Not even close. One of the problems is that some folks are living in really terrible conditions - because other folks aren't behaving like good neighbors. That's an enormous oversimplification, but the Lemming's already got a long post here.

The solutions - in the Lemming's considered opinion - involve short-term and long-term goals. In the short term, getting food and medical supplies to folks who need them is important: even if their 'betters' don't want to cooperate. In the long term, there isn't a social or economic system on the planet that couldn't use improvement.

And, in some cases, radical change.

None of the solutions, again in the Lemming's considered opinion, should involve making sure that people with darker-than-European skin stop having 'too many' babies. And that's another topic, for another blog. (A Catholic Citizen in America (May 6, 2010))

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