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  •  Are you familiar with John Calhoun's work? (6+ / 0-)

    Starting in the late 1940s researcher John Calhoun studied what happens when population grows in otherwise ideal environments, mostly for the National Institutes of Health. He built rodent "utopias" with no predators and plenty of food, and watched what happened as population grew over time.

    Short version, in the beginning life was very good for the rodents as you might imagine in such an ideal environment, but when population became large it all went haywire. Social structure collapsed, aggressiveness and other antisocial behaviors came out in arbitrary-appearing ways, and eventually the rodents all died off.

    The issue in Calhoun's experiments wasn't Ehrlich's population bomb. The rodents had all the food they wanted. The only constraint was physical space, and the impacts on social structures that developed as the space-per-member declined.

    You suggest that "Sustainable condition for humans on Earth is a population of 3 - 4 billion". Currently we are at twice that level, but Calhoun's work may indicate that even your estimate is far too high.

    In Calhoun's experiments, after the population went over the edge into crazy land the inevitable outcome was complete extinction. After the colony got to the point where social structures collapsed, every rodent died.

    From Calhoun's wikipedia entry:

    Calhoun believed that his research provided clues to the future of mankind as well as ways to avoid a looming disaster. During the 1960s, he and Dr. Leaonard Duhl formed an informal group, the Space Cadets, which met to discuss the social uses of space. The members of this group came from as diverse professions as architecture, city planning, physics, and psychiatry. In Calhoun’s own words “Our success in being human has so far derived from our honoring deviance more than tradition. Template changing always has gained a slight, though often tenuous, lead over template obeying. Now we must search diligently for those creative deviants from which, alone, will come the conceptualization of an evolutionary designing process. This can assure us an open-ended future toward whose realization we can participate.”
    “Our success in being human has so far derived from our honoring deviance more than tradition." Unfortunately, this approach seems to be precisely the opposite of where our culture is currently headed.
    •  Cause of death for the rats was not stress. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kfunk937, rduran

      They fought battles where newborns were slaughtered. Young females could not succeed with fresh litters. Older infertile females and males could kill the litters at will.

      Look at Calhoun's pen for the colony. There are no hiding places for new litters.

      It's a rigged game. But great for propaganda.

      "The illiteracy of our children are appalling." #43

      by waterstreet2008 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:08:31 AM PDT

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    •  not until this moment. (4+ / 0-)

      Never heard of him before. But a quick perusal of the Wikipedia (yeah I know) articles was very interesting and I'll probably end up buying his book and/or looking up his papers.  

      This particularly struck me:

      "...when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population."

      Sounds chillingly prophetic.

      Here's my condensed sustainable population table, based on data from

      1 - 2 billion humans at USA standard of living.
      3 - 4 billion at European standards of living.
      6 billion at Cuban standards of living.

      Population crashes occur when any limit is reached.  Usually that limit is food, but in social species such as mice, rats, and humans, other limits are relevant including, as Calhoun found, living space and "available social roles".

      The latter in particular is chilling.  Think of it in light of the permanent high-unemployment economy.  Uh oh.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:18:00 AM PDT

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