10 03 25 Is Collapse Inevitable?

If yeast is introduced into a bowel of suitable media, the behavior of the yeast is quite predictable. The population will grow exponentially (like compound interest in the bank), until the food is consumed. Then the population will collapse.

 29 reindeer were introduced to St. Matthew Island in 1944. There were no predators on the island and food was abundant. The environment was ideal. By the summer of 1963, they had increased in number to 6,000. But in the winter of 1963/64 most of these reindeer died. They starved to death. The reindeer had exhausted the food supply. Only 50 animals survived that winter. Humans did not interfere and ultimately they all died.

The human population of the earth has been steady just below a billion people for thousands of years. Depending of the locale, there would be times of prosperity. It was during these times of prosperity that civilizations would achieve impressive feats, such as the building of the great wall of China, or building of the pyramids. But these times were then followed by hard times due to food shortages and disease. Because the historical record is weak, and because historical records have always focused on the elite, we have few details of these hard times.

 In the Old Testament there are many references to famines. The one we all know about is the famine centering around Joseph. This famine affected not only Egypt, but also Canaan. We know that Jacob and his family were saved by migrating to Egypt. How many perished because they chose not to migrate, or did not know of the food in Egypt? But note that in that record, Egypt's time of prosperity was followed by famine.

 We in the West know nothing about famine and starvation. The 1930s are remembered as a difficult time. Our parents have told us stories about that time, but even then, the stories were of hard times, but not stories of starvation. Other parents have told us stories about starvation in Ukraine or starvation as a refugee, but those stories were about oppression and war. They were not stories of resource depletion.

 The fact of the matter is that since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have not known of famine or serious disease in the West. We have been able to reduce infant mortality, we have been able to address other aspects of health, and we have been able to increase food production phenomenally. But there is a limit to how much growth the planet can tolerate. We are depleting its resources.

 We have the intellectual ability to conserve the resources we depend on to live. We can avoid collapse if we choose to. The question is: will we? Or will we let our voracious appetite for more and more determine our destiny?