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Posts Tagged ‘malthus’

It’s been a long time since I came around

It’s been a long time but I’m back in town

But this time I’m not leaving without you

You taste like tick-tack when you kiss me oh

I’d give everything again to be your baby doll

This time I’m not leaving without you

You said: “Sit back down where you belong

In the corner of the bar with your sneakers on.”

I said: “Sit back down on the couch where we

Will make love the first time.”

And you’ll say to me

Something, something about this place

Something, about those lonely nights

Or my lip-gloss on your face

Something, something about my cool science guy

Yeah there’s something about

Baby, you and I

It’s been six years, since we’ve first met

In those years few words have been said

While muscle cars drove a truck right through my heart

On my birthday singing about that heart of gold

With your guitar humming in childhood overload

This time I’m not leaving without you

You said: “Sit back down where you belong

In the corner of the bar with your sneakers on.”

I said: “Sit back down on the couch where we

Made love the first time.”

And you said to me

Something, something about this place

Something, about those lonely nights

Or my lip-gloss on your face

Something, something, about my cool science guy

Yeah something about, baby, you and I

You and I

You, you and I

Baby, I’d rather die

Without you and I

You and I

You, you and I

Jay Mister, I’d rather die

Without you and I

Put your drinks up!

We got a whole lot of money

But we still pay rent

‘Cause you can’t buy a house in heaven

There’s only a few man

Imma serve my whole life

It’s my daddy, Jay Mister and

Darwin, for the theory of evolution

Hutton, for showing us the age of our world

Newton, for universal physics application

Malthus, for seeing that population growth will always outrun food production

Hardin, you discoverd our tragedy of the commons. “The population problem has no technical solution; it requires a fundamental change of mind.” We should reflect more on our technical evolvement, for new solutions should not bring about new problems. Critical reflection is at the base of a healthy progress, and we humans are blessed with a self-reflective mind so let us not ruin our world with foolishness…

Now something, something about the chase

It’s one shy guy

I’m a science girl chasing science boys

And want my lips all over your face

Something, something, about just knowing when it’s right

So put your drinks up!

For science, Jay Mister, oh boy, I love ya!

You and I

You, you and I

Baby, I’d rather die

Without you and I

You and I

You, you and I

Jay Mister

I’d rather die

Without you and I

It’s been a long time since I came around

It’s been a long time but I’m back in town

But this time I’m not leaving without you


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May 14, 2011

Dear Malthus

Yeah, but if I’m hungry

You were right: the world population expands faster than food production. Although Western population growth has slowed down because we have a higher prosperity level, theThird Worldsuffers from an unrestrained increase in population amounts. For decades, farming land and cattle ranching have been taking over nature landscape. To supply six billion people with food, everything is produced at large extent, with monoculture, aided with fertilizer and factory farms. Still people are starving while, according to recent figures, food production is high enough to supply twelve billion people.

I guess you did already know that poverty in developing countries maintains the people surplus and food shortage. It is probably new to you that food-scarcity is a matter of equal sharing. In theThird Worldthey lack everything: job opportunities, food, a solid position in world economy, money. Here in the West we have plenty of everything and I think that we can feed the one hundred thousand people dying of hunger every day with all the food we throw away.

Beside that, since your time income differences between the West and theThird Worldhave increased and several economic activities maintain these differences. Here in the West governments subsidize farmers because they are going through economically uncertain times. The production surplus that originates from the subsidizing is sold – for usurious prices – in African countries, which economically harms the farmers there.

Yet the local farmers try to survive and this causes the unsustainably use of water and soil in developing countries: each year tropical rain forest areas as large asEnglandare cleared for agriculture. Production per hectare is enlarged by not leaving any land as fallows and increasing cattle density on meadows.

Half way the previous century, Garret Hardin noticed that biodiversity, water quality, soil fertility, production per hectare and ecosystem value drastically decline because of humans collectively using these natural resources too intensively; current environmentalists say exactly the same. What can we do? Nature is so valuable, we cannot just mess her up. Did you know that biodiversity in tropical rain forests is so huge that every step you take you can encounter a new species? Still the rain forest in South-America disappears to give place to soy, which is used to feed the European cattle. (And processed in countless food and care products.) Mangrove forests are cleared because of the high instrumental value of the timber and the areas themselves are tainted due to shrimp farms, while the forests as an ecosystem are much more valuable. Hoe can we prevent the species richness of thousands of years of development to be spoiled?

At this very moment multiple Western organizations are struggling against poverty and for sustainable technologies. I think education is a good way of giving help. We can provide sexual education to put a brake on the geometrical population growth and teach locals how to use water and soil sustainably. It is a bit like raising appreciation for nature.

Okay, I can hear your thinking: how sustainably would we live if we were hungry? A rhetorical question. Malthus, they die because we flourish. Here in the West we spend a lot of attention to sustainable technologies, nature conservation and even nature development, because we are rich enough to spend our money on that. People and nature in developing countries are the victims of the neoliberal character of our global economy. Poverty does not lead to nature degradation, as long as people live harmonically. The world-wide market is just so non-transparent that we in the West are simply not aware that our consumption pattern is destroying nature in developing countries. We do not see who or what is paying for our prosperity. It is just hypocrisy that we spend so much money on developing projects while we are indirectly responsible for the damage.

I write to you because I cannot solve this problem on my own. At least, I only know some useless suggestions. Perhaps we should discard capitalism and become communists. Then there won’t be any distinctions between poor and rich and will farmers in contemporary developing countries no longer be forced to destroy nature in order to maintain their families. Or perhaps we can use gene technology to turn off the gene that determines our avarice. Then we can be satisfied with all that nature offers without trespassing her carrying capacity.

Malthus, I write especially to you because I think you made a step towards the right direction. In your essay from 1798 you used insights from economy and biology to describe why the human population crosses the carrying capacity of nature. This problem has become a global issue now and has led to a poor state of nature preservation in developing countries.

I think it is time to build bridges between different scientific disciplines to solve this kind of social problems. We have to share knowledge with each other, because in this complex world, solo insights are not sufficient anymore. By hearing a word such as ‘free market mechanism’, biologists stay awfully quiet, and when economists are confronted with the nutrient cycles, at night they are having troubles falling asleep.

Malthus, I would like to ask you if you would like to employ your multiple disciplinary qualities in an interdisciplinary research team to come up with solutions for sustainable solutions to nature conservation in the Third World. Within this collaboration the theme ‘Yeah, but if I’m hungry’ will take a central stage, by which focus will be on both food scarcity in developing countries and Western consumption appetite. Maybe you can get in touch with Garrett Hardin, or Arjun Appadurai? Can I count on you? Because it would be a dreadful thing if our exquisite nature will be lost.

Kind regards,

CB.

Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie van dit essay.

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Betreft: Ja, maar als ik honger heb

Amersfoort, 28 april 2010

Beste Malthus,

Je had gelijk: de wereldbevolking groeit sneller dan de voedselproductie. Alhoewel de bevolkingsgroei in het Westen is afgenomen doordat wij hier meer welvaart hebben, kent de Derde Wereld een ongeremde toename in bevolkingsaantallen. Akkerland en veeteelt nemen al decennialang de plaats in van natuurlandschap en om zes miljard mensen van voedsel te voorzien gebeurt alles grootschalig, in monocultuur en met behulp van kunstmest en bio-industrie. Toch lijden er mensen honger terwijl we volgens recente cijfers genoeg produceren om twaalf miljard mensen van voedsel te voorzien.

Je wist misschien al dat de armoede in ontwikkelingslanden het overschot aan mensen en het tekort aan voedsel in stand houdt. Het is misschien nieuw voor je dat voedselschaarste een verdelingsvraagstuk is. In de Derde Wereld hebben ze overal te weinig van: werkgelegenheid, voedsel, een goede positie in de wereldeconomie, geld. Hier in het Westen is genoeg van alles en ik denk dat we van al het voedsel dat we weggooien makkelijk de honderdduizend hongerdoden per dag kunnen voeden.

Daarnaast is sinds jouw tijd het inkomensverschil tussen het Westen en de Derde Wereld alleen maar toegenomen en houden verschillende economische activiteiten dit verschil in stand. Hier in het Westen geven regeringen bijvoorbeeld subsidies aan boerenbedrijven omdat deze het economisch moeilijk hebben. Het productieoverschot dat hierdoor ontstaat wordt onder de marktwaarde verkocht in Afrikaanse landen, wat de boeren daar ernstig benadeeld.

De lokale boeren proberen toch in hun bestaan te voorzien en als gevolg daarvan wordt in ontwikkelingslanden alles behalve duurzaam omgegaan met het water en de bodem: elk jaar worden arealen regenwoud zo groot als Engeland gekapt voor de landbouw om een winstgevende oogst te verzekeren. De productie per hectare wordt vergroot door minder land braak te laten liggen en meer vee op de graslanden te laten grazen.

Garrett Hardin merkte halverwege de vorige eeuw al op dat de biodiversiteit, de waterkwaliteit, de vruchtbaarheid van de bodem, de productie per hectare en de waarde van ecosystemen drastisch verminderen doordat mensen gezamenlijk te intensief gebruik maken van deze natuurlijke hulpbronnen; de huidige milieukundigen zeggen hetzelfde. Wat kunnen we doen? De natuur is zo waardevol, we kunnen haar niet zomaar stukmaken. Wist je dat de biodiversiteit in tropisch regenwoud zo groot is dat je om de paar honderd meter een nieuwe soort tegenkomt? Toch verdwijnt in Zuid-Amerika het tropisch regenwoud om plaats te maken voor soja waarmee het Europese vee gevoerd wordt. De mangrovebossen worden gekapt vanwege de hoge gebruikswaarde van het hout en de gebieden zelf raken aangetast door de garnalenkweek, terwijl de bossen als ecosysteem veel meer opleveren. Hoe voorkomen we dat de soortenrijkdom van duizenden jaren ontwikkeling vergaat?

Op dit moment strijdt een veelheid aan Westerse organisaties tegen armoede en voor duurzame technologieën. Ik denk zelf dat onderwijs een goede manier van hulp geven is. Zo kan er seksuele voorlichting worden gegeven om de exponentiële bevolkingsgroei te remmen en kan de lokale bevolking geleerd worden hoe zij duurzaam omgaat met de grond en het water. Het is een beetje als waardering voor de natuur kweken.

Ja, ik hoor je denken: hoe duurzaam zou onze relatie met de natuur zijn als wij honger hadden? Een retorische vraag. Malthus, zij sterven omdat wij bloeien. Hier in het Westen besteden we namelijk veel aandacht aan duurzame technologieën, natuurbehoud en zelfs natuurontwikkeling omdat we rijk genoeg zijn om ons geld daaraan te besteden. De mensen en de natuur in ontwikkelingslanden zijn slachtoffer van het neoliberalistische karakter van de mondiale economie. Armoede leidt helemaal niet tot natuurdegradatie, zolang de mens in harmonie leeft met de natuur. De wereldwijde markt is gewoon zo ondoorzichtig dat wij hier in het Westen niet beseffen dat ons consumptiepatroon de natuur in ontwikkelingslanden vernietigt. We zien niet wie of wat onze welvaart betaalt. Het is gewoon hypocriet dat we zoveel geld steken in ontwikkelingsprojecten terwijl wij indirect verantwoordelijk zijn voor de schade.

Ik schrijf je omdat ik dit probleem niet alleen kan oplossen. Althans, ik weet wel een aantal nutteloze suggesties. Misschien moeten we het kapitalisme afschaffen en allemaal communistisch worden. Dan is er geen onderscheid meer tussen arm en rijk en worden de boeren in hedendaagse ontwikkelingslanden niet meer gedwongen de natuur te verwoesten om in hun onderhoud te voorzien. Of misschien kunnen we met behulp van gentechnologie het gen dat codeert voor onze inhaligheid uitschakelen? Dan zijn we voortaan tevreden met wat de natuur ons kan bieden zonder dat wij haar draagkracht overschrijden.

Malthus, ik schrijf speciaal naar jou omdat jij volgens mij een stap in de goede richting hebt gezet. In je essay uit 1798 gebruikte je inzichten uit de economie en de biologie om te beschrijven waarom de menselijke populatie boven de draagkracht van de natuur leeft. Dat probleem speelt nu op mondiale schaal en leidt ertoe dat het slechts gesteld is met natuurbehoud in ontwikkelingslanden.

Ik denk dat het tijd is om meer bruggen te slaan tussen verschillende wetenschappelijke disciplines om dergelijke maatschappelijke problemen op te lossen. We moeten kennis met elkaar delen, want de afzonderlijke inzichten zijn in deze complexe wereld niet meer toereikend. Bij een term als vrije markt mechanisme blijven biologen namelijk angstwekkend stil en als economen geconfronteerd worden met een woord als nutriëntencyclus hebben ze ’s avonds moeite om de slaap te vatten.

Malthus, ik zou je willen vragen of je met je meervoudige disciplinaire kwaliteiten mee wilt denken aan een duurzame oplossing voor natuurbehoud in de Derde Wereld in een interdisciplinaire onderzoeksgroep. Binnen dit samenwerkingsverband zal het thema “Ja, maar als ik honger heb” centraal staan, waarbij wordt gefocust op zowel de voedselschaarste in ontwikkelingslanden als de Westerse consumptiehonger. Wellicht kun je contact leggen met Garrett Hardin, of Arjun Appadurai? Kan ik op je hulp rekenen? Want het zou verschrikkelijk zijn als die prachtige natuur verloren gaat.

Met vriendelijke groet,

CB

Click here for the English version of this essay.

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source: www.cartoonstock.com

I know we can’t repeal the laws of nature, but I don’t see why we can’t amend them a little. It seems mankind has forgotten their place and is ruining the earth to make money. Wealth is only seen in the light of human’s own life span. But what about next generations? What about species becoming extinct, about ecosystems being teared down? Is it that difficult to see we humans use the earth’s resources to create our wealth? And once these resources become depleted, nothing will remain? The West even decided to enhance the poor countries, but in a way that has nothing to do with offering help.

Previous year, on June 10th 2010, was election day in the Netherlands. My first task today was voting for the political party that warrants a green, sustainable development of our society. My second task was finishing an exam about ecology. One week later the Dutch political parties seemed to have problems formating a government. It took them nearly four months to agree on several heavily debated issues: retirement age, health care, migration policy, education and most of all, cutting down the expenses. None of the heavily debated issues involved environmental problems like the acification of the Netherlands, the expansion of the Ecological Main Structure (Ecologische Hoofdstructuur, EHS) and the decrease in biodiversity. No, the new government decided agriculture was more important than natural areas in stead, though Dutch agricultural yields already increased every year due to new technologies and by no means there was any food shortage. Moreover, a lot of the yields were exported and the majority of Dutch food is imported from other European countries.

It was during these elections my attention was drawn towards the incredible interconnectedness of our trading system, especially with regard to food, clothes and luxury products (radio’s, computers, jewelry). I cannot tell where my jeans come from, but I do know it costs thousands of liters of water to cultivate the amount of cotton needed to manufacture my jeans, let alone the chance of child labor or sweat shops included in the process.  I am, moreover, terribly opposed to processing soy in all kinds of food products, but yet I have not spot much food products without soy. It is, like, everywhere, and it hurts me in the heart because I know the tropical rain forest in (for example) Brazil is cut rapidly to provide for soy plantations, though the tropical soil is not suited for plantations, because it is low in nutrients and fertilizer will wash out easily due to the loose soil structure.

Farming factories are like heaven to capitalism, but like hell to environmentalists and animal-lovers. Farming factories serve to serve the meat demand. But why do we have to eat so much meat? Can’t we just eat less? And is it so difficult to buy only biologically produced food? Unfortunately yes, it is, because the ‘good’ meat is more expensive than the ‘bad’ meat. And in this capitalist, free market ecnonomy our money is our most valuable possession, right?

In December, I watched a documantery about the gold mines in Guatemala. Canadian companies close deals with the government of Guatemala to extract gold ores from the land. All yields end up at the Canadian companies; all harm ends up at the indigenous people and the environment. The companies are using cyanide to mine the gold, a very venemous substantion causing sickness and death by living organisms, including humans. Though the companies state they do not use cyanide, or they state the cyanide is disposed off in an environmental friendly way, or they state the cyanide is used with care for the environment and human healt. Either way, it has been reported the cyanide disposals have been buried unsafely, meaning the cyanide will leak into the environment, enter the food chain end eventually kill.

One word: consumerism. People don’t see where products come from. Consumerism comes with a blind eye for the start of the products we consume; the global character of current production processes veils environmental desctruction, unhealthy labour conditions, corruption, monopoly and hypocrisy among the ‘civilized’ western organizations. Companies don’t mind telling the production and transportation chain of their products. Then it would become clear transportation costs cover a large part of products’ prices or would bad labour conditions become reveiled. Then it would become clear biologically produced food is doing bad on the market because non-biologically produced food is sponsored by government allowances. Une painful example I read in a Dutch newspaper lately: on one page there was an article about how some Dutch farmers wanted more allowances from the government to ensure a proper income; on the next page there was an article about an African farmer who opposed the allowances provided in western countries because these allowances caused an unfair playing field for upcoming agricultural companies and countries.

It was the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund forcing developing countries to implement the Structural Adjustment Programs which were aimed at enhancing economic growth by participating on the global market. But the global martket was an unlevel playing field with the developed countries laying way ahead of the newbies. Prices of industrally manufactured products were way lower than the more hand-make products of developing countries. Western countries dump the surplus of fruits and vegetables on the local markets of developing countries, causing food prices to drop and negatively affecting the income of local farmers. It was also the WB declaring mining activities are a good way to escape poverty.

Perhaps they still don’t see economic growth is no answer to alleviating poverty or enhancing underdeveloped countries. Why is that? One: economic growth, or a free market system, does harm to the environment. Because people do not know where products are coming from and whatresources it takes to produce them. Two: poverty mainly is caused by maldistribution. And maldistribution is caused by power inequality and corrpution. So it is not economic growth that should help people out of poverty, but a transparant functioning government and fair trade. Three: by focussing merely on economic growth there is no room for sustainable development. Quantity is useless if quality is poor. Four: in western countries economic growth only came after some (World) Wars, protests, revolutions, a strong operating government. But hey, history is forgotten easily. And why bother the hard approach if there is an approach that seems to work fine? But it only works fine for now and for us, and not for the next generation, for the quality of the environment and for the very survival of all species.

The world is a system with structures; nature is a system with structures. It is no use giving money to one of the employees in your company to save the whole business. It is no use replacing the tire of your car if the engine has broken down. It is no use giving money to a gambler and asking hiim to spend his money on charity. Making and keeping a better world asks for a more structural approach. Envirionmentalists can’t save the planet as long as not everyone is coorporating. Western organizations should not cover their practises by the empty words of profit, money-saving, free market, economic growth and progress. It is sustainability we need. And people, all people, need to know how the Earth works. No more: God created it and will save our asses. No more: it is not that big a deal if I give myself what I need and Garrett Hardin was wrong. No more: we should focus on lessen the poverty in this world without caring for the enormous amount of resources needed to provide all this people with the wealth of our current western society and forget about Thomas Robert Malthus. No more: what I do in my backyard won’t effect my neighbours and ignore the externalities of Pigou.

Do not turn our beloved and required clean, healthy environment into a parody. Realize there is only one Earth and if we kill it we cannot make a new one. We should remember our evolutionary place and  never forget we were here last.

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