[Taxacom] Pro-natalism vs. biodiversity and population dynamics

Richard Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Fri Jan 29 07:46:15 CST 2010

Obviously, Bob and Hans are right, and I don't believe many of us would 
disagree in principle. The "population problem" is, as Garrett Hardin 
noted so eloquently, a problem with no technological solution. This is a 
problem that requires an understanding of what we mean by carrying 
capacity (as applied to any species). Given what we know about our 
planet, it certainly appears that we humans have violated Hardin's 11th 
commandment. But, because we are, to the best of my knowledge, the only 
species that has the ability to evaluate the global consequences of 
this, we can take steps to reduce population (not just slow growth) and 
preserve environments for all our fellow travelers. Where do we start?

As I suggested, a starting point might be to decide on the minimum 
amount of resources that can be allocated to each individual; and by 
this I mean responsible allocation of resources - eliminate geopolitical 
boundaries, evaluate all necessary resources on a global basis, and do 
so in the context of a plan that does not permit additional destruction 
of natural ecosystems/habitats. Then we can make some progress.

Do I believe such is likely to happen? Not today. We live in a world of 
rational herdsmen who will keep adding one more sheep to their flock 
until resources are exhausted and the entire system collapses. Of 
course, a rational herdsman should be intelligent enough to understand 
the consequences of his own actions and take steps to prevent what 
appears inevitable. In my view, most people are sufficiently selfish to 
want someone else to make the sacrifices necessary to correct the 
current situation. I still believe education is the key - it has been 
documented to make a difference in a number of settings.


Dick J

Richard Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Tel: 574-284-4674

Hans Henderickx wrote:
> Unfortunately Bob is right, the laws of population dynamics also apply to 
> the human race. It would be naive to suppose that we could save the meadow 
> by teaching the sheep to eat less or less selective, the next year there 
> will just be more sheep.
> It is the number of individuals that counts, and not the way species behave: 
> the latter is programmed in the genes. Banning 4weel vehicles and promoting 
> solar energy will prolongue the process just a negligible bit.
> Hans Henderickx
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