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« Gerard DeGroot says tyranny is better for some people | Main | ACORN suspends 'Housing' program »

September 16, 2009


jj mollo

Most social scientists remember Ehrlich, who was wrong. Few remember Borlaug, who was busy.

More than that, Ehrlich was wrong mostly because Borlaug was busy. We are relying on the growth of technology to keep us from the clutches of catastrophe. Let us be grateful to those who make it possible.


Great man. But I hesitate to agree with the idea that he came up with "techniques that have prevented the global famines widely predicted..."

If your annoyingly honest with yourself, you'll realize that he prevented nothing. He just delayed it, and made sure that the number of starving people would be much larger. He did a great thing, but ignored the root of the problem and treated only the symptom.

The simple fact of the matter is that third-world (by which I mean 'non-western') countries produce too many babies. It's got to come to a tipping point sometime.

I, however, have the solution! I know most people are against forced sterilization, but how about TV? Let's work together to put a TV in every hut and hovel in the third world. That'll give them something to do other than produce a dozen kids.

Frank Warner

Don't forget the invisible hand. Borlaug did some of its work, and people all over the world are doing it today.

In a free and informed economy, supply and demand work amazingly well. That goes for food supply. That goes for population.

If we have the freedom and the information, we'll continue to avoid worldwide starvation. For many nations right now, the greater challenge is to avoid eating ourselves to death.

jj mollo

Remarkably, I agree with Kevin -- on every point. Borlaug himself was very distressed by our collective inability to control population. He felt he had given humanity some breathing room, but we hadn't taken advantage of it.

On the other hand, would it be right to allow diseases to propagate to control population? No one accepts that. Why should we then allow hunger to do the same? Being on the Malthusian edge is dreadful. Special attention should be paid to the population collapse after the Soviet Union failed. We need to do both, stay ahead of the curve on technology and find a socially acceptable way to keep population growth at replacement, or slightly below. Both goals are challenging, but necessary.

The TV idea is actually the best thing we've come up with so far. It turns out that once a developing country passes a certain tipping point of wealth, the population growth rate seems to naturally subside. Maybe that's the point where they can afford to rent Bollywood DVDs. But in countries where they sell their children so that they can feed the others, it may take more than TV to turn things around.

Frank Warner

Hmmm.... Kevin and JJ agree.

Hell chills.


A sign of the apocalypse?

Frank Warner

You see the apocalypse. I see hope.

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