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Actaeon

Globalization

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Last night, as I was standing on a hundred year old rooftop looking down at my moderately sleepy burg of 6,000 souls, a friend of mine had the gall to tell me "It won't remain little old Carbondale for much longer".

 

I asked him to defend his hypothesis, as we've managed to weather the world pretty well so far, but despite his lack of a solid come back, it got me thinking. You folks are from all over, true, but if you live in anything much bigger than a single zip code, it's likely that your town is filled with the same chain stores, restaurants, and so on that I see at school. Well, maybe not in Europe so much, but still. I see people from opposite coasts chat about their favorite restaurants. It's a strange, brave new world for me, and I'm not sure I like it.

 

So my question, with much lead up, is this: Is globalization inevitable? I don't just mean in my specific case. It's a term with a lot more to it than the proliferation of certain types of businesses, practices, or even ideologies. But I see very little local flair like the towns I visited in Italy. Perhaps I'm in a cynical mood at the moment, spouting about cultural appropriation and big business like the liberal I am, but I'd just like to know. Where are we headed? (Do you think?)

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There are two options, and that is all.

 

Option one is that we will continue in the Industrial Revolution paradigm and continue to extract resources from the ground and turn them into an increased standard of living for people. By definition, the net change in global welfare must be positive, and will continue to remain not only positive, but increasing.

 

Option two is that we will somehow run out of resources, stop increasing the standard of living, regression will commence, and social collapse and anarchy will ensue. Note that I'm not defining "resources" here, it could be oil from Kuwait or unobtanium from Pandora, we just need to keep getting more of it.

 

To answer your question, globalization is inevitable in the case of the first scenario, and cannot possibly occur in the second.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
By definition, the net change in global welfare must be positive, and will continue to remain not only positive, but increasing.


1) by what definition

2) why

3) how do you even measure global welfare

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I would like to point out that earth has a finite amount of resources. So no matter how energy efficient we make our technology, how environmentally friendly we become, or creative in extracting and recycling resources we get, their will come a point were if we continue to grow the earth can will not be able to sustain us.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
1) by what definition

James Burke's. Watch.


Originally Posted By: Lilith
2) why

That's easy. Start with the presupposition that humans (and humanity as a whole) inherently act in their best interests. Then, note that humans live in an interactive cooperative society. From this, it follows that engaging in society is beneficial to the individual. So, the converse, that were engaging in society not beneficial to the race as a whole, we would stop doing it, must therefore be true.

Originally Posted By: Lilith
3) how do you even measure global welfare

There are a bunch of metrics. The Human Suffering index measures the relative suffering of one country relative to another. The Human Development index measures the industrial progress of a country. The UN has various metrics for determining such concepts. A quick Google search yields a few dozen more.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Start with the presupposition that humans (and humanity as a whole) inherently act in their best interests.


lol you already lost me

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: Lilith
2) why

That's easy. Start with the presupposition that humans (and humanity as a whole) inherently act in their best interests.

This requires you to assume that people are perfectly well-informed about what will promote their interests, perfectly rational in promoting them, and always favor the long-term over the short. None of these are true.

Originally Posted By: Dantius
Then, note that humans live in an interactive cooperative society. From this, it follows that engaging in society is beneficial to the individual. So, the converse, that were engaging in society not beneficial to the race as a whole, we would stop doing it, must therefore be true.

Engaging in society is not the same as contributing to society. If everyone pursues their own best interest, it does not follow that a group is promoting that group's collective interest. I know this, because when I am not playing games, I am a Somali pirate.

Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: Lilith
3) how do you even measure global welfare

There are a bunch of metrics. The Human Suffering index measures the relative suffering of one country relative to another. The Human Development index measures the industrial progress of a country. The UN has various metrics for determining such concepts. A quick Google search yields a few dozen more.

Defining welfare in economic terms is arguably what caused most of the problems we're arguing about.

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Originally Posted By: Sarachim
This requires you to assume that people are perfectly well-informed about what will promote their interests, perfectly rational in promoting them, and always favor the long-term over the short. None of these are true.

Hence it is a presumption. Besides, you don't have to act in your long term or short term interests, just generally in your interests. It may well be in my interests to move to norther Wisconsin, but that doesn't necessarily mean I will do so, because it is also in my interests to continue working and getting a paycheck.

Also, if game theory is allowed to make these kind of presumption, then I should be too, so nyer nyer tongue.

Originally Posted By: Sarachim
Engaging in society is not the same as contributing to society. If everyone pursues their own best interest, it does not follow that a group is promoting that group's collective interest. I know this, because when I am not playing games, I am a Somali pirate.
Criminals, Somali pirates included, still has an interest in preserving society, much like a parasite shouldn't kill its host. If society collapsed, who would send all those ships past Somalia, and who would pay millions in ransom money?


Originally Posted By: Sarachim
Defining welfare in economic terms is arguably what caused most of the problems we're arguing about.

Um, many of those metrics are defined by things like literacy rates, infant mortality, and other measures that are most definitely not economic terms.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Criminals, Somali pirates included, still has an interest in preserving society, much like a parasite shouldn't kill its host. If society collapsed, who would send all those ships past Somalia, and who would pay millions in ransom money?


this seems to assume unrealistic amounts of foresight and coordination on the part of individuals

see also: tragedy of the commons

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: Sarachim
Defining welfare in economic terms is arguably what caused most of the problems we're arguing about.

Um, many of those metrics are defined by things like literacy rates, infant mortality, and other measures that are most definitely not economic terms.

My fault for being unclear. I meant "economic" in the broad sense of the word, in which things like literacy and good health have a quantifiable value that makes them fungible with each other. I'm not against this approach to defining welfare, but it has a tendency to value things in proportion to the ease with which they can be quantified.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius

That's easy. Start with the presupposition truth that humans are selfish and act only in their best interest.


FYT.

Its to late to try to hide or fight Globalization. It's here and it aint going anywhere. Despite everything countries or individuals do to stop the spread of Globalization it happens.

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Originally Posted By: Lord Safey
I would like to point out that earth has a finite amount of resources. So no matter how energy efficient we make our technology, how environmentally friendly we become, or creative in extracting and recycling resources we get, their will come a point were if we continue to grow the earth can will not be able to sustain us.

I've posted this in another thread, but I feel that if we're discussing energy, it should at least be mentioned in passing. Basically no, no we will not run out of energy. Even if fusion is infeasible, by the time we deplete all resources available on earth (which will take many thousands of years even assuming maximum projected growth), we should at least be advanced enough to mine the other rocky planets in the solar system, and after that there's always the asteroid belt...

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what happens a few billion years from now when all the stars have burned out

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also i don't see how mining other rocky planets helps with energy. there's not much you can do with abiotic rocks that has a positive EROEI ratio

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We will have evolved energy sources that run on entropy. Naturally, they will violate the laws of thermodynamics.

 

—Alorael, who thinks this thread got off to an immediately irrelevant start. He thinks the spread of nationwide and multinational chains is just part of life. He doesn't think they'll ever completely displace everything local, but he does think that some local businesses are dying breeds. Not being sentimental about mom and pop shops, he's fairly okay with it.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
also i don't see how mining other rocky planets helps with energy. there's not much you can do with abiotic rocks that has a positive EROEI ratio

Well, for all we know, space travel in the next millennium could become cheap enough that the energy invested for a trip to, say, Venus would produce sufficient net energy to fall back into a worthwhile EROEI. Just because a planet is abiotic doesn't mean that it wouldn't have, say, deuterium or tritium or uranium or plutonium, all of which can be used to generate energy.

Besides, we could always just harvest the energy from he sun somehow, perhaps something along the concept of a Dyson sphere? Remember, this will be millennia into the future.

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But the energy catastrophe of running out of oil isn't in the future. It's right now! And it has been for the last fifty years.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't think energy is the limiting resource on Earth. Food, air, water, and space are all shaping up to be, and they're much less tractable problems.

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And to make it worse, one of our oil sources has decided to be mean and give the oil to the gulf of mexico and not us. frown

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Air (oxygen) is not in short supply. We have more than enough to last us several hundred years without any input. Oxygen isn't a limiting factor for life but CO2 is. Although we're trying hard to change that.

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Originally Posted By: Means and Ends Committee

He doesn't think they'll ever completely displace everything local, but he does think that some local businesses are dying breeds. Not being sentimental about mom and pop shops, he's fairly okay with it.


Fair enough, although I'm curious which you think are dying breeds and what forms might stand. For myself, sentimentality is only, say, 40% of it. I like my money staying in the community and helping keep my own head above water. I also like it when the proprietor of the movie theater trusts me to pay him later when I forget my wallet. Sometimes, not having to deal with a long chain of command helps get things done.

Of course, I concede that chains have the benefit of efficiency and mass production, and are generally cheaper.

Originally Posted By: Dantius
Even if fusion is infeasible, by the time we deplete all resources available on earth (which will take many thousands of years even assuming maximum projected growth), we should at least be advanced enough to mine the other rocky planets in the solar system, and after that there's always the asteroid belt...


I hate to sound like a complete hippie, but do you really think continued mining is the answer? Extraction, transportation... It's quite the endeavor, given the abundance of renewable resources on earth.

I think someone already mentioned this, but solar's improving rapidly. The raw forces of the sun and the planet, if harnessed, would more than take care of all our needs with a lot less hassle than mining. If we're going to bank on vast improvement in technology, why not there?

Myself, I suspect that we'll run oil into the ground and leave ourselves without enough energy to manufacture the necessary technology to move forward. I don't know of that's optimistic or pessimistic, in the long run.

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Capitalism isn't all that bad of a system really. But the end-point of capitalism where we have monopolies is terrible. If we could somehow stop companies from getting to the Walmart stage I think we'd be Ok.

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Originally Posted By: Actaeon
I hate to sound like a complete hippie, but do you really think continued mining is the answer? Extraction, transportation... It's quite the endeavor, given the abundance of renewable resources on earth.

I think someone already mentioned this, but solar's improving rapidly. The raw forces of the sun and the planet, if harnessed, would more than take care of all our needs with a lot less hassle than mining. If we're going to bank on vast improvement in technology, why not there?

Myself, I suspect that we'll run oil into the ground and leave ourselves without enough energy to manufacture the necessary technology to move forward. I don't know of that's optimistic or pessimistic, in the long run.


It's not being a complete hippy at all. The problem with solar/wind/geothermal energy it that you need to have a very advanced level of technology to pull it off. A solar panel is a delicate, complex, and finicky machine, and it requires a lot of energy to make one. Coal power, OTOH, requires essentially basic knowledge of structural engineering to build the plant, simple and easily obtainable materials, and some specialty components (generators, transformers, etc) that are much easier to mass produce than solar. So while solar energy is probably a pretty good alternative for the US, expecting China or India or Africa to suddenly make the switch to solar is beyond ridiculous.

Running out of oil is not a problem for power generation, just for transportation. For example, nearly 85% of France's power is nuclear fission, not oil or coal. The only problem with nuclear is irrational public fear of meltdowns turning us green and giving us extra appendages. Blame that one on pop culture...

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
The only problem with ... is irrational public fear of...


This is a problem with many otherwise worthwhile courses of action. Alas.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius

The only problem with nuclear is irrational public fear of meltdowns turning us green and giving us extra appendages. Blame that one on pop culture...

They're also rather expensive to build, which automatically deters some people.

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Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Originally Posted By: Dantius

The only problem with nuclear is irrational public fear of meltdowns turning us green and giving us extra appendages. Blame that one on pop culture...

They're also rather expensive to build, which automatically deters some people.


And the waste is forever

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With breeder reactors, the waste is less of an issue. Not a non-issue, but less of an issue.

 

In the absence of clean power soon, though, clean air, clean water, and clean food become issues. Actually, even with clean and cheap power, just having enough water and food and space for everyone to have a nice standard of living can become problematic. We have a lot of people and the number keeps going up.

 

—Alorael, who embraces the SEP solution to these vexing issues. Lead pipes. 10%.

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Surely we could curb population growth on the reproduction end and avoid resorting to outright culling. I hear the US wouldn't even be replacing itself without immigration.

 

And, if we're going to try the flipside of Darwinism, why not make it interesting? Ship felons off to the moon Australia style. Distribute firearms during Twilight-based arguments. Create an evil twin agency for the UN...

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Concerning nuclear (fission) reactors:

 

Quote:
They're also rather expensive to build, which automatically deters some people.

As I understand it, much of this stems from how few have been built—not many designs have been thoroughly tested.

 

Quote:
And the waste is forever

Not necessarily; Alorael points out one means of handling it, another possibility is fission-fusion hybrid reactors, which as I recall would use the high neutron flux from the fusion to burn up the fission products. These latter are also thought to have a great deal of potential in that they would be able to make nuclear power generation available without making available materials which could be turned into weapons.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
The problem with solar/wind/geothermal energy it that you need to have a very advanced level of technology to pull it off. A solar panel is a delicate, complex, and finicky machine, and it requires a lot of energy to make one. [...] So while solar energy is probably a pretty good alternative for the US, expecting China or India or Africa to suddenly make the switch to solar is beyond ridiculous.

And spaceships aren't delicate, complex, and finicky machines that require a lot of energy to make one? And it's not like China already manufactures everything already.

Dikiyoba.

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From what I hear France has a pretty good nuclear recycling program that, if implemented in the US, could get enough fuel out of current waste to run all the nuclear reactors in the US for 30 years.

 

Nuclear power also has very high power output compared to solar and wind energy. The energy produced by one nuclear plant in a year can almost match (I don't remember if it's more or less) the energy produced by the entire US solar and/or (once again I don't remember which) wind industries in a year.

 

Also this whole dealing with nuclear waste thing isn't too hard to figure out with where to put it. Just stick it way underground. Think about it, the materials that make oil and natural gas have been underground for millions of years and probably would have stayed there longer if humans hadn't dug them up. The largest problem is how to get the waste there.

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The other largest problems are how to make sure it doesn't get into groundwater if there's an earthquake or something, and how to stop people who want to build a dirty bomb from getting their hands on it. It's not an insurmountable problem, but it's not as easy as you're making it sound.

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We (the USA) should put the nuclear waste in a missile and launch it at France. I've heard they have a pretty good nuclear waste recycling program, they'll probably know what to do with it.

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I'm all for storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, but that's not going to happen while the senate majority leader is from Nevada, because most Nevadans oppose the Yucca Mountain proposal.

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First, about globalization: it's not bad on itself. It's the inevitable outcome of large-scale social interaction. You can easily liken it to natural selection of cultures; there are some bad effects, but rather than worry about globalization as a whole, it'd be more fruitful to focus on tackling those specific effects.

 

Second, about energy crisis: energy is, for all intents and purposes, infinite. However, our ability to extract it from the envinronment is not, and more importantly, our need for suitable energy can exceed our ability to produce it.

 

Famines are perhaps the most basic example of this - when environment's ability to produce food is not enough to support a population, said population will collapse. Similarly, I believe mankind is reaching the point where we must reduce our population to retain stability. We can do this in controlled manner, utilizing globalization, and unification of cultures it entails, to best effect, arranging global logistics so that all peoples are quaranteed some baseline of wellfare. Alternatively, we can fiddle our thumbs about it, and wait till internal conflicts of our species lead to forceful equilibrium - entailing war, famine and all manner of other disasters. <_<

 

In either case, global culture will go through massive upheaval.

 

Third, while nuclear power indeed is a good form of energy and we could do with more, there's only so much Uranium to go around. Each fission or fusion plant also requires other hard-to-get materials. Due to this, available resources will always put a hard limit on how many we can build, and how much energy we can get from them.

 

Meanwhile, we already have one, big fusion reactor sitting right there in the sky. Amount of energy shone down on Earth by the Sun is large enough to theoretically satisfy mankind's need for electrical energy many times over. Breakthrough of Solar energy is a matter of creating a panel that can be created cheaply and quickly from abundant materials. I have no doubt that eventually, it will trump nuclear power in every aspect. Before that, we have much more pressing concerns to deal with. Such as ensuring there's enough food and water to our evergrowing population. >_>

 

Fourth, space travel will never be a solution to overpopulation.

 

There are, what, three births for each death every second now? That's a surplus of 86 400 people each day. Thus, to solve this [censored] with space travel, we'd have to send as many people each day to Moon, Alpha Centauri, or whatever.

 

Yeah, right. Building a single ship for that many people would require more resources than a new nuclear reactor. Furthermore, all those resources would be effectively lost, and not usable to us earthlings anymore, as they're conveniently shot somewhere else.

 

Even then, Earth at its worst is better for human life than any other object in our solar system at its best. Making Moon or Mars livable for large enough populations for it to matter would require so much energy expenditure it wouldn't even be funny.

 

Sending people to America or Australia worked because those places had livable conditions and natural resources of their own to supply the colonies. Moon, Mars, and so on, do not. We might as well send those 86 400 people to Sahara or Antarctis, to die. Expect that would be vastly more feasible, as those places are still on Earth, and logistics to move people there would be much easier to arrange.

 

Shooting people in the head will always be more effective method of population control than shooting them to space. Possibly more humane, even. -_-

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Originally Posted By: Frozen Feet
Famines are perhaps the most basic example of this - when environment's ability to produce food is not enough to support a population, said population will collapse. Similarly, I believe mankind is reaching the point where we must reduce our population to retain stability. We can do this in controlled manner, utilizing globalization, and unification of cultures it entails, to best effect, arranging global logistics so that all peoples are quaranteed some baseline of wellfare. Alternatively, we can fiddle our thumbs about it, and wait till internal conflicts of our species lead to forceful equilibrium - entailing war, famine and all manner of other disasters. <_<


I think you missed the entire point of biotechnology ever here. The Green Revolution and similar events has massivley increased the carrying capacity of our planet. I see no reason why this trend can't continue for a while...

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I haven't missed it. Unlike you, I do see good reasons why the trend migh stop. Or rather, stop growing in a speed quick enough to avoid all all hurdless associated with such occasion.

 

The question we're facing is "how long can we sustain X baseline of wellfare for Y amount of population?" If we take X to be "modern western lifestyle" and Y to be "7.5 billion to 15 billion people", I'll come ahead and say "not for long". If our current estimates of climate change are anywhere near the mark, world's ability to sustain that many people at any level of wellfare might be compromised in a century.

 

Biotechnology can increase carrying capacity of Earth, true. But it does have its limits, and we're already straining our current limits in our situation. It might be possible to provide stable conditions for a population of 10 billion humans, but I hold it'd be easier at this point to reduce number of eaters rather than bake a greater pie.

 

If we get down to it, you're much more optimistic about biotechnology than I am, and I believe our current situation would be better solved in other manner than brute forcing through it by technological breakthroughs that might or might not happen.

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See the problem is there hasn't been a war or disease that's killed off hundreds of thousands of people in a while. That would probably help curb population growth.

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Originally Posted By: The Ratt
See the problem is there hasn't been a war or disease that's killed off hundreds of thousands of people in a while. That would probably help curb population growth.


Fine, I'll get right on it. Let me just find my jackboots, armband, and control of a major power.

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I'm pretty sure there have been wars and diseases that have killed hundreds of thousands within the last decade or so. Hundreds of thousands just isn't enough when we get that many new people each day or so.

 

Of course, if we don't consciously do something to prevent it, sooner or later problems caused by overpopulation will escalate to a point where enough people will die.

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I realize some of the above posts are facetious. That said...

 

There's something, umm, ironic to me about the idea that inevitably if we don't reduce / limit population, something bad will happen (lack of resources leading to, presumably, suffering and death for people) ...and yet the only reliable ways to reducing / limiting population seem to involve causing suffering and death for somebody.

 

It rather sounds like a no win situation...or else perhaps some aspect of the situation has been misread.

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If we reduce our numbers through control of reproducion, then the "excess" people will just naturally die of old age - they can still potentially lead a satisfactory life, even have kids (though a limited number of them).

 

On the other hand, if we extert little conscious effort to alleviate problems of overpopulation, it will end in vast amounts of people dying violently and painfully in wars and famine.

 

It is possible to solve the problem in a civil and controlled manner. It's a matter of how. It seizes to be ironic once you take a closer look at it. All people will die - this is a matter of what kind of lives they will lead.

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I think of humanity like a bacteria culture in a petri dish. It will grow at a large rate until it can no longer support that kind of growth and collapse.

 

No need for wars to lower the population. It will happen on its own when it is time.

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And when it does, there will be chaos and many more wars, the things we want to avoid.

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At least I see wars as both the mechanism and a side-effect of the population collapsing. Just like rats will sometimes start eating other rats when food is in short supply, when humanity starts running out of resources, we will fight over those left.

 

Sure, wars are not necessary. But I don't think they're something we'll avoid without consciously trying to prevent them.

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Originally Posted By: Frozen Feet
If we reduce our numbers through control of reproducion, then the "excess" people will just naturally die of old age - they can still potentially lead a satisfactory life, even have kids (though a limited number of them).

...

It is possible to solve the problem in a civil and controlled manner. It's a matter of how. It seizes to be ironic once you take a closer look at it. All people will die - this is a matter of what kind of lives they will lead.


Hmm...civil and controlled sound nice...but I'd like that closer look you suggest I take. What civil and controlled manner will allow you limit population growth? Will it be like China where the government forces women to have abortions if the government thinks they are having too many children? Is forcing abortions on women who don't want them civil? Or do you have other, more reliable ways, to perhaps persuade people to voluntarily limit population growth? I just don't see it.

But I'm getting argumentative on a forum, which I try not to do, so I'll wrap this up.

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Correct. Limiting reproduction is a great solution, but it's just not possible. It's impossible to simply declare "Okay, only one more kid or else". CHina tried, and despite the fact that it's probably the most powerful and centralized govenment, it still didn't have absolute obedience- the population is still just holding constant, not shrinking.

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I don't blame you if you don't see it - I don't either, some of the time. There's a fairly large design space for solutions I would find acceptable, with varying shades of grey in each. For example, I do believe it would be possible to establish a governmental birth control program that without it being utter dickery.

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Also, China's policy caused other problems that they are now grappling with. Eugenics becomes a much bigger issue when you are only allowed a certain number of kids.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Also, China's policy caused other problems that they are now grappling with. Eugenics becomes a much bigger issue when you are only allowed a certain number of kids.


Plus, you get massive gender imbalance, and all the problems that that brings along (demographic shift, social friction, prostitution, forced marriages, wage issues, etc.)

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