The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Every so often, I run across something that tweaks my fancy, or just plain intrigues me, in the NY Times or Washington Post. I do not think much of these enterprises and just peruse their headlines most of the time but this one caught my attention:

Overpopulation Is Not The Problem

If you haven't guessed why, I will explain (I will do that even if you have guessed why, I suppose, since I have no way of knowing what you have guessed or even if you bothered to).

A number of years ago,  teacher I had offered an explanation of population growth and reduction in a species. He spoke of horses in a canyon. Imagine a herd of horses, with its hierarchical structure, and territorial nature. The herd resides in a box canyon, perhaps, limited to some degree by terrain the individuals of the herd cannot traverse. Even the opening is barred by some natural barrier. The herd is, say, 20 strong. The territory has sufficient grazing land to support 25-30 horses. The herd will swell above 30... for awhile. But the land will not support that number so the strong will thrive while the weak will falter and die. The herd will, over time, shrink to below the the supportable number and then grow again. But, viewed over time, the average size of the herd will not exceed the capacity the territory can support.

Humans are different, but not by much. The primary difference is that we have learned to adapt not only to the environment we exist in but to adapt the environment to our needs. We run out of land to contain our growing numbers? We build upward, packing more individuals into the limited space. We devise ways to make the environment support us rather than simply accept the limits set by nature. We develop domestication of crops and animals to counter the limiting effects of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. When the limits of crop size threaten to impact our population size, we develop ways to increase crop production or switch to crops which better support the growth in population. We alter our environment to support the growth in population rather than accept the "natural" limits.

The world population at the time of this teacher's lesson was probably no more than 3 billion.

Unlike the author of the piece seems to imply, I still believe there is a finite limit to the population the world can sustain. We are, in my opinion, nowhere near that limit at this point in time.

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