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Over population derail from "Humans as non-animals"

J842P

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I realize that humans have been making big changes to the ecology for thousands of years. But I'll need a cite for "more of it." Whether measured by acreage of land transformed by man or number of species driven extinct, man's negative influence on ecology is bigger than ever now, and getting worse.
Don't have a cite but my best guess would be loss of habitat. Human animals, as their population expands, destroy the habitats of other organisms. Some species can coexist, some even experience population increases and are better off, but generally the cost of loss of habitat is loss of species.

No.

Human animals, as their range expands, do this.

It mostly happened back in the distant past, when total population of humans was minuscule compared to today.

Adding another million people to Shanghai or Mumbai makes very little difference. Adding a billionaire to California makes more, but not much more. A handful of people crossing the Timor Sea with their dogs 40,000 years ago wiped out vast numbers of species. The same happened in the Americas a few thousand years later.

Human impact on our environment has very little to do with raw population numbers.

Well, I get your point but you are oversimplifying. It's the range and population density that matters. A handful of hunter gatherers, even if their range was the entire continent, would not have lead to the extinction of the megafauna (assuming the human predation hypothesis is correct).
 

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(assuming the human predation hypothesis is correct)
Quite an assumption, I've always thought. Considering the late Pleistocene megafauna suffered in regions where humans were seemingly absent, just as well as in places where humans were numerous.

As with Malthus, some theories just seem to stick around by their own memetic pull, too irrestible not to repeat once you hear them, whether or not they can withstand true logical scrutiny.
 

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(assuming the human predation hypothesis is correct)
Quite an assumption, I've always thought. Considering the late Pleistocene megafauna suffered in regions where humans were seemingly absent, just as well as in places where humans were numerous.

As with Malthus, some theories just seem to stick around by their own memetic pull, too irrestible not to repeat once you hear them, whether or not they can withstand true logical scrutiny.

Blaming human predation for megafauna extinction is certainly not a certainty but isn't a far fetched theory. Population numbers of large animals run much lower than smaller animals. Length of time to reach maturity is longer for large animals than smaller animals. Also gestation periods for large animals are considerably longer than smaller animals (e.g. elephant gestation runs ~22 months, rats' gestation ~1 month. elephant age of maturity ~12 years; rat's age of maturity ~2 months). Predation of two to four mammoth per year for a couple centuries out of a an original heard of a hundred could quite conceivably reduce that heard population below its ability to continue. There would, of course, be other herds but there would also be other small bands of hunters preying on them.
 

Politesse

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(assuming the human predation hypothesis is correct)
Quite an assumption, I've always thought. Considering the late Pleistocene megafauna suffered in regions where humans were seemingly absent, just as well as in places where humans were numerous.

As with Malthus, some theories just seem to stick around by their own memetic pull, too irrestible not to repeat once you hear them, whether or not they can withstand true logical scrutiny.

Blaming human predation for megafauna extinction is certainly not a certainty but isn't a far fetched theory. Population numbers of large animals run much lower than smaller animals. Length of time to reach maturity is longer for large animals than smaller animals. Also gestation periods for large animals are considerably longer than smaller animals (e.g. elephant gestation runs ~22 months, rats' gestation ~1 month. elephant age of maturity ~12 years; rat's age of maturity ~2 months). Predation of two to four mammoth per year for a couple centuries out of a an original heard of a hundred could quite conceivably reduce that heard population below its ability to continue. There would, of course, be other herds but there would also be other small bands of hunters preying on them.

We may have different notions of what constitutes hypothesis testing. Regardless, you are not really contradicting my point. Armchair anthropology, it's a thing.
 

skepticalbip

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Blaming human predation for megafauna extinction is certainly not a certainty but isn't a far fetched theory. Population numbers of large animals run much lower than smaller animals. Length of time to reach maturity is longer for large animals than smaller animals. Also gestation periods for large animals are considerably longer than smaller animals (e.g. elephant gestation runs ~22 months, rats' gestation ~1 month. elephant age of maturity ~12 years; rat's age of maturity ~2 months). Predation of two to four mammoth per year for a couple centuries out of a an original heard of a hundred could quite conceivably reduce that heard population below its ability to continue. There would, of course, be other herds but there would also be other small bands of hunters preying on them.

We may have different notions of what constitutes hypothesis testing. Regardless, you are not really contradicting my point. Armchair anthropology, it's a thing.
Such a hypothesis testing only requires a reasonable estimate of replacement rate vs. kill rate. Surely you are not denying that megafauna were prey for early hunters are you?
 

Politesse

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Blaming human predation for megafauna extinction is certainly not a certainty but isn't a far fetched theory. Population numbers of large animals run much lower than smaller animals. Length of time to reach maturity is longer for large animals than smaller animals. Also gestation periods for large animals are considerably longer than smaller animals (e.g. elephant gestation runs ~22 months, rats' gestation ~1 month. elephant age of maturity ~12 years; rat's age of maturity ~2 months). Predation of two to four mammoth per year for a couple centuries out of a an original heard of a hundred could quite conceivably reduce that heard population below its ability to continue. There would, of course, be other herds but there would also be other small bands of hunters preying on them.

We may have different notions of what constitutes hypothesis testing. Regardless, you are not really contradicting my point. Armchair anthropology, it's a thing.
Such a hypothesis testing only requires a reasonable estimate of replacement rate vs. kill rate. Surely you are not denying that megafauna were prey for early hunters are you?
Then yes, we have different ideas about hypothesis testing, at least in archaeology. I am more interested in empirical evidence than hand-waving projections of the "plausible". And again, not actually off topic, as this is what people do with Malthus as well. "Oh, but isn't it possible? You can't deny that it's possible..." No, I don't deny that the hypothesis is conceivable. I just don't think it is likely. But I don't care as much about the mammoth debate, since it has less ugly reprecussions on living human beings if people want to believe it.
 

skepticalbip

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Such a hypothesis testing only requires a reasonable estimate of replacement rate vs. kill rate. Surely you are not denying that megafauna were prey for early hunters are you?
Then yes, we have different ideas about hypothesis testing, at least in archaeology. I am more interested in empirical evidence than hand-waving projections of the "plausible". And again, not actually off topic, as this is what people do with Malthus as well. "Oh, but isn't it possible? You can't deny that it's possible..." No, I don't deny that the hypothesis is conceivable. I just don't think it is likely. But I don't care as much about the mammoth debate, since it has less ugly reprecussions on living human beings if people want to believe it.
Interesting tactic there. Don't actually criticize or argue the estimated possible numbers as unreasonable and offering more reasonable numbers but attack the competition as being the same as an ignorant Malthusian.

ETA: you may note that I didn't claim that this is what happened but that it is not a far fetched hypothesis.
 

Politesse

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Such a hypothesis testing only requires a reasonable estimate of replacement rate vs. kill rate. Surely you are not denying that megafauna were prey for early hunters are you?
Then yes, we have different ideas about hypothesis testing, at least in archaeology. I am more interested in empirical evidence than hand-waving projections of the "plausible". And again, not actually off topic, as this is what people do with Malthus as well. "Oh, but isn't it possible? You can't deny that it's possible..." No, I don't deny that the hypothesis is conceivable. I just don't think it is likely. But I don't care as much about the mammoth debate, since it has less ugly reprecussions on living human beings if people want to believe it.
Interesting tactic there. Don't actually criticize or argue the estimated possible numbers as unreasonable and offering more reasonable numbers but attack the competition as being the same as an ignorant Malthusian.

ETA: you may note that I didn't claim that this is what happened but that it is not a far fetched hypothesis.

I already explained why I don't find the hypothesis likely. The distribution of the human population should be relevant if we were the primary stressor causing extinction. Establishing that it is possible to drive a mammoth herd to extinction is not the same thing as establishing that it actually happened. To answer that, we should absolutely be looking to the real fossil record.
 

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I am not knowledgable enough to know much about the claims of the scientist in the article that I am about to link, but according to her, human infertility has been rising drastically and due to our usage of certain chemicals we may well be heading for our own demise as a species. So, maybe all these fears of over population are unwarranted.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/05/books/review/shanna-swan-count-down.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage


If you’ve smugly enjoyed the dystopian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (where infertility is triggered in part by environmental pollutants) or “Children of Men” (where humanity is on the precipice of extinction) — and believed that these stories were rooted firmly in fantasy — Shanna Swan’s “Count Down” will serve as an awakening.

“Count Down,” which Swan wrote with the health and science journalist Stacey Colino, chronicles rising human infertility and warns of dire consequences for our species if this trend doesn’t slow. The reason, Swan explains, may be growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that are found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.

She outlines the danger. These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. These hormone-warping chemicals, which can enter even the placenta, have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.


A study Swan cites in “Count Down” found that just over a quarter of men experiencing erectile dysfunction were under 40. That may be, in part, because testosterone levels have been dropping at 1 percent per year since 1982. The outlook for women isn’t good either. The miscarriage rate has risen by 1 percent per year over the last two decades. If these trajectories continue, in vitro fertilization and other artificial reproductive technologies may become a widely needed tool for conceiving children.

Swan distills information harvested from hundreds of published studies and while some ring familiar, the conclusion she reaches hits hard. These chemicals are limiting the ability of current and future generations to have children. They could, ultimately, snuff out the human species altogether.


I thought this was an interesting contrast to some of the fears and claims posted in this thread. Perhaps some are worrying about the wrong thing. Then again, perhaps nature would benefit from the demise of the human species. It's not like we've added anything positive to the natural world in recent generations.

I felt this interesting post was worth a re-post.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I am not knowledgable enough to know much about the claims of the scientist in the article that I am about to link, but according to her, human infertility has been rising drastically and due to our usage of certain chemicals we may well be heading for our own demise as a species. So, maybe all these fears of over population are unwarranted.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/05/books/review/shanna-swan-count-down.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage








I thought this was an interesting contrast to some of the fears and claims posted in this thread. Perhaps some are worrying about the wrong thing. Then again, perhaps nature would benefit from the demise of the human species. It's not like we've added anything positive to the natural world in recent generations.

I felt this interesting post was worth a re-post.

Definitely a good post. I thought this bit of the article worth noting:

Swan describes the collateral damage caused by a combination of lifestyle factors — such as stress or bad diet — and daily exposure to toxic chemicals. The effects can radiate down through several generations.

And as noted in the article, these chemicals affect all organisms, not only humans. Natural selection marches on.
 

steve_bank

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Looking at the world everyday on TV does anyone think population can continue to grow without limit?
 

Politesse

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Looking at the world everyday on TV does anyone think population can continue to grow without limit?

The question isn't whether it can, but whether it will. The myth of exponential, uncontrolled growth is the part of the Malthusian paradigm that does not stand up to empirical scrutiny.
 

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Lifestyle being as important as population numbers, there could be a huge problem of unsustainability if 9 -10 billion people become consumers on the scale of people enjoying rich western lifestyles....which those who are on the sidelines have every right to aspire to.
 

Politesse

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Lifestyle being as important as population numbers, there could be a huge problem of unsustainability if 9 -10 billion people become consumers on the scale of people enjoying rich western lifestyles....which those who are on the sidelines have every right to aspire to.

If everyone had an affluent lifestyle, there would be no threat of reaching a population of 10 billion, as we know for a fact that birth rate and wealth are negatively correlated in all known global communities regardless of culture. But I am not sure I would agree that everyone has a "right" to the unrestrained, ecologically unconscious lifestyle of the very wealthy. If we wish to increase the wellbeing of global citizens, I think this is entirely possible to do, but certain behaviors characteristic of the "West" are things even they should not be doing, let alone everyone. Petroleum-dependent economies, use of fresh water to maintain pesticide-soaked lawns, use of kill genes to drive up the price of healthy agricultural products, etc, are bad practices, and no one should be encouraged in them. On the other hand, if the question is whether, say, everyone should have indoor plumbing and electricity in their homes, I see no reason why such "luxuries" should be impossible for most people to acquire, provided that growth in infrastructure were reasonably well planned.
 

steve_bank

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Economics wise covid shows here in the USA we are beyond sustainability. Increasing numbers at the margins living day to day. Employed but working poor. Any downturn and they are in trouble.
 

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steve_bank you are playing on at the margins as an argument for the notion that overpopulation can lead to extinction. The margins will exist no matter what the species, but the capacity to increase carrying capacity to defeat any kind or capacity violation rests with few species like humans.
 

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Lifestyle being as important as population numbers, there could be a huge problem of unsustainability if 9 -10 billion people become consumers on the scale of people enjoying rich western lifestyles....which those who are on the sidelines have every right to aspire to.

If everyone had an affluent lifestyle, there would be no threat of reaching a population of 10 billion, as we know for a fact that birth rate and wealth are negatively correlated in all known global communities regardless of culture. But I am not sure I would agree that everyone has a "right" to the unrestrained, ecologically unconscious lifestyle of the very wealthy. If we wish to increase the wellbeing of global citizens, I think this is entirely possible to do, but certain behaviors characteristic of the "West" are things even they should not be doing, let alone everyone. Petroleum-dependent economies, use of fresh water to maintain pesticide-soaked lawns, use of kill genes to drive up the price of healthy agricultural products, etc, are bad practices, and no one should be encouraged in them. On the other hand, if the question is whether, say, everyone should have indoor plumbing and electricity in their homes, I see no reason why such "luxuries" should be impossible for most people to acquire, provided that growth in infrastructure were reasonably well planned.

If we assume that we have the right to live the way we do, then the same assumed right cannot be denied to those who seek the same standard of living. Which doesn't make consumerism a good thing to aspire to, only that it is the path we are on, which those on the sidelines see and aspire to achieve for themselves.
 

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Lifestyle being as important as population numbers, there could be a huge problem of unsustainability if 9 -10 billion people become consumers on the scale of people enjoying rich western lifestyles....which those who are on the sidelines have every right to aspire to.

If everyone had an affluent lifestyle, there would be no threat of reaching a population of 10 billion, as we know for a fact that birth rate and wealth are negatively correlated in all known global communities regardless of culture. But I am not sure I would agree that everyone has a "right" to the unrestrained, ecologically unconscious lifestyle of the very wealthy. If we wish to increase the wellbeing of global citizens, I think this is entirely possible to do, but certain behaviors characteristic of the "West" are things even they should not be doing, let alone everyone. Petroleum-dependent economies, use of fresh water to maintain pesticide-soaked lawns, use of kill genes to drive up the price of healthy agricultural products, etc, are bad practices, and no one should be encouraged in them. On the other hand, if the question is whether, say, everyone should have indoor plumbing and electricity in their homes, I see no reason why such "luxuries" should be impossible for most people to acquire, provided that growth in infrastructure were reasonably well planned.

If we assume that we have the right to live the way we do, then the same assumed right cannot be denied to those who seek the same standard of living. Which doesn't make consumerism a good thing to aspire to, only that it is the path we are on, which those on the sidelines see and aspire to achieve for themselves.
You see, the problem here is that I do see environmental degradation and resource shortages as a dire threat to our communal global existence. I just don't blame the poor underclasses of the global south for that threat. Overpopulation is a red herring.In truth, it is a very small set of people who threaten the survival of this planet with their greed and apathy. And I do not have much sympathy for their prerogatives.

I claim no right for myself that I would not happily extend to all human beings. I do not assume as you say. I think we all need to learn to live more sustainably, and I think this is more than possible.

But not if everyone (or anyone) has three cars in their garage.
 

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If we assume that we have the right to live the way we do, then the same assumed right cannot be denied to those who seek the same standard of living. Which doesn't make consumerism a good thing to aspire to, only that it is the path we are on, which those on the sidelines see and aspire to achieve for themselves.
You see, the problem here is that I do see environmental degradation and resource shortages as a dire threat to our communal global existence. I just don't blame the poor underclasses of the global south for that threat. Overpopulation is a red herring.In truth, it is a very small set of people who threaten the survival of this planet with their greed and apathy. And I do not have much sympathy for their prerogatives.

I claim no right for myself that I would not happily extend to all human beings. I do not assume as you say. I think we all need to learn to live more sustainably, and I think this is more than possible.

But not if everyone (or anyone) has three cars in their garage.

I don't disagree with you that we should learn to live more sustainably. It is essential that we do.....now tell it to the marketeers and big business interests.
 

Politesse

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If we assume that we have the right to live the way we do, then the same assumed right cannot be denied to those who seek the same standard of living. Which doesn't make consumerism a good thing to aspire to, only that it is the path we are on, which those on the sidelines see and aspire to achieve for themselves.
You see, the problem here is that I do see environmental degradation and resource shortages as a dire threat to our communal global existence. I just don't blame the poor underclasses of the global south for that threat. Overpopulation is a red herring.In truth, it is a very small set of people who threaten the survival of this planet with their greed and apathy. And I do not have much sympathy for their prerogatives.

I claim no right for myself that I would not happily extend to all human beings. I do not assume as you say. I think we all need to learn to live more sustainably, and I think this is more than possible.

But not if everyone (or anyone) has three cars in their garage.

I don't disagree with you that we should learn to live more sustainably. It is essential that we do.....now tell it to the marketeers and big business interests.

And that's who we need to put pressure on. Not poverty-stricken families in Niger, Angola, and Mali.
 

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Some TFTers continue to underestimate the consequences of human overpopulation. We are ALREADY suffering huge degradation of habitat and loss of biodiversity. These are NOT concerns about what will happen if the human population stays at ten billion for centuries; they are already problems. (And I agree with Politesse's example: Monsanto's biological warfare against natural plants in order to increase profits from sales of its "Frankenstein crops" is almost a self-caricature of the huge mistakes H. sapiens is making.)

And some in the thread HUGELY overestimate the ratio of damage caused by rich versus poor. Fertilizers are used all over the world, and are a major concern, both in terms of the increasing cost of mining phosphate, and in the environmental consequences of washed-away fertilizer. Deforestation is an environmental problem; it happens in developing countries. Depletion of fresh water is also a major problem, and concerns several poor countries.

The HUGE cost (not limited to habitat destruction) of eating beef is associated with rich countries, but billionaires do NOT consume hugely more beef than average Americans! :) ... And poor people in poor countries aspire to eat beef also.

Yes, Man is clever. Beef substitutes are being developed. But to assume that man will find technological workarounds for all the problems of overpopulation is much too Pollyannish. Trivial partial solutions seem to be beyond the reach of America. Mention a 50¢ per gallon tax on gasoline, and Americans will squeal like you're trying to castrate them.
 

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Anyway, I'd still like the proponents of overpopulation to answer my Hypothetical Question: If the choice is between a world of 10 billion happy humans and a world with 5 billion happy humans, is it fair to say the former has a humanity that's twice as happy?

I would certainly be twice as happy in a world of 5 billon and opposed to 10 billion but only if we get to said 5 billon by eliminating those who think that people should be culled.
 

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If we assume that we have the right to live the way we do, then the same assumed right cannot be denied to those who seek the same standard of living. Which doesn't make consumerism a good thing to aspire to, only that it is the path we are on, which those on the sidelines see and aspire to achieve for themselves.
You see, the problem here is that I do see environmental degradation and resource shortages as a dire threat to our communal global existence. I just don't blame the poor underclasses of the global south for that threat. Overpopulation is a red herring.In truth, it is a very small set of people who threaten the survival of this planet with their greed and apathy. And I do not have much sympathy for their prerogatives.

I claim no right for myself that I would not happily extend to all human beings. I do not assume as you say. I think we all need to learn to live more sustainably, and I think this is more than possible.

But not if everyone (or anyone) has three cars in their garage.

I don't disagree with you that we should learn to live more sustainably. It is essential that we do.....now tell it to the marketeers and big business interests.

But you do not have to listen to the marketeers and big business interests. They only have as much power as ee give them.
 

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I don't disagree with you that we should learn to live more sustainably. It is essential that we do.....now tell it to the marketeers and big business interests.

But you do not have to listen to the marketeers and big business interests. They only have as much power as ee give them.

Yet many people do swallow the big business economic model of consumerism and perpetual growth, including governments and policy makers.....buy, invest, collect toys, spend...
 

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The leftists being over population deniers at the same level as American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation is rather interesting.

 

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Anyway, I'd still like the proponents of overpopulation to answer my Hypothetical Question: If the choice is between a world of 10 billion happy humans and a world with 5 billion happy humans, is it fair to say the former has a humanity that's twice as happy?

I would certainly be twice as happy in a world of 5 billon and opposed to 10 billion but only if we get to said 5 billon by eliminating those who think that people should be culled.
Is this a suggestion that the way of reducing population should be by culling out those who think that people should be culled?

Just damned, another irony meter blown.
 
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steve_bank

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steve_bank you are playing on at the margins as an argument for the notion that overpopulation can lead to extinction. The margins will exist no matter what the species, but the capacity to increase carrying capacity to defeat any kind or capacity violation rests with few species like humans.

I did not say extinction. Loking at civikization as a system I expect a large scale population decline in the future.

We say catastrophic collapse in China ubder Mao leading to mass starvation.

The estimate that in coming times width climate change we will no longer be a net food exporter.

The md west aquifer is drawing down. California without drought has a water problem.

It is only a matter of time.

Humans will survive, our system will not. As evidenced by Congress we are unabe to deal withmajor problems.

Biden resends Trump immigration policy. Now the media is outraged that we are unable to deal with a rising number of unaccompanied kids on the border. Cognitive dissonance.

Western civilization is not manageable by the current paradigms.

That is why China is on the rise. As much as we dislike Chinese policy they are getting things done.
 

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steve_bank you are playing on at the margins as an argument for the notion that overpopulation can lead to extinction. The margins will exist no matter what the species, but the capacity to increase carrying capacity to defeat any kind or capacity violation rests with few species like humans.

I did not say extinction. Loking at civikization as a system I expect a large scale population decline in the future.

We say catastrophic collapse in China ubder Mao leading to mass starvation.

The estimate that in coming times width climate change we will no longer be a net food exporter.

The md west aquifer is drawing down. California without drought has a water problem.

It is only a matter of time.

Humans will survive, our system will not. As evidenced by Congress we are unabe to deal withmajor problems.

Biden resends Trump immigration policy. Now the media is outraged that we are unable to deal with a rising number of unaccompanied kids on the border. Cognitive dissonance.

Western civilization is not manageable by the current paradigms.

That is why China is on the rise. As much as we dislike Chinese policy they are getting things done.

Famine had very little impact on total Chinese population in the C20th. In 1950, China had a population of around 550 million; despite ~50 million famine deaths and ~30 million deferred births during the Great Leap Forward, by 1975 the population had risen to 921 million.

War, famine, and disease have had very little influence on population numbers since world population reached the billion person mark. Even major death events simply couldn't compete with the high birthrates of the first eighty years of the twentieth century.

Voluntary reductions in birthrates since then have, however, been effective in bringing population growth under control.
 
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