[Marxism] Too many humans?

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Wed Nov 26 08:24:31 MST 2003

I don't claim to understand how anyone can come up with such figures as
1,000 times too many to be sustainable.  The entire problem is that
what's sustainable does change over time, owing to a range of factors in
which human will and technology are sometimes minor considerations.

Again, if there is any area in which our understanding of the world has
superceded that of Marx, it is in the area of those very material limits
on what our technology can do for us and on our interdependence with
these other factors necessary to a viable environment.

Let us approach this question from another angle, though.  There's the
recently posited brush the human race had with extinction about 74,000
years ago.  At that time, the supervolcano Toba (currently Lake Toba in
Indonesia) exploded itself into the atmosphere, plunging the planet into
an "unnatural" darkness and cold that choked plant life and caused
animal populations to collapse.  This is actually reflected in a
genetically demonstrated population bottleneck that took place around
that time.  Depending on the sources, they talk about a GLOBAL human
population that fell as low as 5,000 to 10,000, maybe lower.  Less
catastrophic global effects were also demonstrable after eruptions of
Thera probably around 1628/7 B.C., Tambora in 1815, and Krakatau in
1883.  Material circumstances like this that have nothing to do with us
change what is sustainable.

However, we don't need to talk about asteroids or volcanos.  Far less
dramatic events demonstrate these limitations of material circumstances,
the recent global warming being an obvious example; this can have a
devastating effect on agriculture to which our finely attuned hybrids
are going to be particularly vulnerable.  Or we can look to the way our
use of antibiotics actually cultivates the success of microbes immune to
their effects.  

As materialists, we must acknowledge these sorts of considerations that
were beyond scope of Marx's concerns.  

Mark L.

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