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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Curtiosity about population

I have been up to my neck in work and also in taming a new computer, so here's something I prepared earlier.

But far more numerous was the herd
— John Dryden

Lemmings go over cliffs, we move to town.
— Lewis Thomas, The Fragile Species, Collier Macmillan, 1992, 100.

Populations, when unchecked, increase in a geometrical ratio.  Subsistence only increases in an arithmetical ratio.
— Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population Growth as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society.

Personally I come more and more to believe in decentralization and small-scale ownership of land and means of production.  The trouble is that, in an over-populated country like Britain, this is only partially feasible.  Mass production, coupled with mass regimentation, for export in exchange for food seems to be the ineluctable destiny of those who have made Malthus's nightmare come true.
— Aldous Huxley, letter to Harold Raymond (Chatto and Windus) from California, 1945, Letters of Aldous Huxley, Chatto and Windus, 1969, p. 465.

Every moment dies a man,
  Every moment one is born
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 - 1892), The Vision of Sin, 1842.

Every moment dies a man,
  Every moment 1 1/16 is born
— Charles Babbage (1792 - 1871)

Until the 1940s, malaria was endemic in Ceylon . . . despite a high birth rate, for centuries the population has been stabilised and enervated by the mosquito. . . the population doubled in thirty years, with resultant problems of unemployment, inadequate social services, food shortages.
— Arthur C. Clarke, The View from Serendip, Gollancz, 1978, pp. 127-128.

The primary requirement for a stable human ecosystem is stabilization of human numbers.  This is something much more than the conventional aim of family planning, which is that every family should have the children they want, when they want them.  It means that at some point it becomes obligatory that each generation replaces itself and no more, that the average number of live births per woman during her lifetime shall be two plus a fraction (probably between 0.3 and 0.9) to allow for couples who are non-fertile, and for childhood deaths.
— Macfarlane Burnet, Dominant Mammal, Heinemann 1970, 129.

There is no getting away from it.  It is technically possible to carry out the scientific revolution in India, Africa, South-East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, within fifty years.  There is no excuse for Western man not to know this.  And not to know that this is the one way out through the three menaces which stand in our way — H-bomb war, over-population, the gap between the rich and the poor.  This is one of the situations where the worst crime is innocence.
— C. P. Snow (1905 - 1980), The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, Rede Lecture, 1959.

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