Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I can't tell you how wonderful I think it is that we still live in a country with a growing population. It is a reflection of our optimism that Americans are still having children and, yes, letting in immigrants. Our flexible, wonderful system allows those children to grow up with opportunity to squander rather than poverty that cannot be escaped. Don't take it for granted.
Blogger Tim Blair, an Australian, celebrated the American milestone in a way that no American I know of has dared to do. With pictures of Americans. Yes, his sample is a little short of blacks and other identifiable ethnic minorities (who may not figure prominently among his readers), but Blair's point is still well taken:
Since so few US media outlets were inclined to celebrate this non-grim milestone, the job was outsourced to a little Australian blog. Following is a small sample of Americans, from which you may reasonably extrapolate a figure of 300 million. Or 957 trillion, if you work for Lancet ...
OK, that last bit was a cheap shot. But still.
Here is a small but worthy part of our family's contribution to the 300 million. Looking at it, the country just doesn't seem all that crowded to me.
CWCID: Sister Toldjah.
The problem is not so much space (we can still squeeze several billion people on the hospitable land on the earth), it's resources. There's simply not enough resources to feed 7 billion - 10 billion? 20 billion? people.
This is a finite earth and, just as some criticize the poor for having more children than they can afford, we need to accept that we can't live infinitely on a finite planet.
Did you know this, for instance: The ONLY reason we can feed all nearly 7 billion people is because we use petro-fertilizers to help artificially boost the productivity of the soil? And realizing that at some point (10 years or 100 years, but relatively soon) we will reach the end of affordable petroleum.
This Christian advocates living in a personally and societally responsible manner, tending to God's good creation in a sustainable way.
Did you know this, for instance: The ONLY reason we can feed all nearly 7 billion people is because we use petro-fertilizers to help artificially boost the productivity of the soil?
Dan, I'm not an expert in agricultural sciences, and I didn't even sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I don't think that is true in a meaningful sense. Yes, I know that our agriculture is currently dependent on petroleum-based fertilizer, but it is not necessarily so. The discussion is a long one, but I think it would be a mistake to assume that technological change in agricultural science has come to an end. It is just beginning.
This would be where I would argue for that old conservative chestnut: Prudence.
Technology MAY come up with some more sustainable solutions than what we have now. BUT it is not prudent to bet our future on an unknown, non-existent answer on the hopes that Technology will deliver.
My wife works with the poor to try to get them to develop self-sufficiency. Sometimes, she'll come across a family that has bought a plasma TV and ordered Cable, even though they don't have enough to pay Rent or Electricity.
"Why would you do that?" she might ask, when they've reached a crisis point.
"Well, we were hoping the lottery would come through, for us."
Betting on a non-existent answer is not conservative nor is it ever wise. We need to live responsibly.
Seems to me.
If you're interested in reading more about agriculture and petroleum, here's one source:
I'm no scientist either, but I understand the concept of finite reality - we can't have an ever-expanding population in a static earth and still feed us all.
"Did you know this, for instance: The ONLY reason we can feed all nearly 7 billion people is because we use petro-fertilizers to help artificially boost the productivity of the soil? And realizing that at some point (10 years or 100 years, but relatively soon) we will reach the end of affordable petroleum.
Plant more farms. Duh.