Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nye's Ill Logic

In 1798, Thomas Malthus wrote that "the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man." At that point, there were maybe a billion humans on Earth, so we might forgive him for worrying. In 1800, the life expectancy of the average British citizen -- Britain then being the leading light of the world -- was 39 years. Most humans lived in pitiless poverty that is increasingly rare in most parts of the contemporary world.
Now, had Nye been around in the early 19th century, he'd almost surely have been smearing anyone skeptical of the miasma theory of disease. The problem is he lacks imagination; he's unable to understand that science is here to help humanity adapt and overcome, not constrict it. Anyway, 7-plus billion people later, extreme poverty was projected to fall below 10 percent for the first time ever in 2015. Most of those gains have been made in the midst of the world's largest population explosion.

There's a lot of bad science out there - people like to imply that everyone doing science is doing it well, and that is just not so.  People also like to pretend that science provides answers on complex questions that cannot be subjected to randomized trials, and that is also not so.

It is easy to believe that we're constructing a food system that delivers so much bad food with such a complex system of production and delivery that we have to run out one day.  Perhaps we will.  Killing people to prevent that ... ridiculous.

Pretending that our socialized nations could survive population decline is also ridiculous, and when the enlightened ones quit having kids they'll find that like the Shakers, their values rapidly decline in significance. Good luck with that meek idea to "not have a kid so you can save the world" idea.  The fertile will inherit the earth.

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