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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Let's All Move to Texas!

While googling yesterday to see if the questions raised by Paul Ehrlich in his 1968 bombshell, "The Population Bomb," are still being considered -- they are -- I came across an especially memorable counter-argument put forward by one of his many adversaries. To show that the Earth, far from being too crowded, still has plenty of room for many more billions, this person wrote that all six billion plus of the current humans could be comfortably accommodated by Texas alone, each in his or her own house on about 1/8 of an acre.

This argument must've been written by someone whose emanations would be welcomed in the conservative used toilet tissue rags like the Washington Times. Ehrlich's detractors seem to be the same sort of nincompoops -- and worse -- who thought it was such a stellar idea to move in on -- and with -- Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The example is so riddled with holes that it is tempting to say nothing in rebuttal. Except...

There can't be a Texan alive -- even among its numerous insane -- who would welcome having all the rest of the Earth's inhabitants moving in with them on 1/8 of an acre for each. Not even the Chinese or the India Indians, who, consisting of more than a billion persons apiece -- have done their bit to squeeze out species that are far more worthy than human beings -- notably tigers, elephants, and panda bears -- would welcome having the rest of the planet joining them in bursting their seams.

The problem is that all the larger animals, including human beings, need room and plenty of it. Despite the resemblance, they are not to be confused with bacteria. Ehrlich has said that the optimum human population would be two billion, which was about as many as were here during the fateful year when I was born, in 1931. That is three times fewer than what we have now.

Lots of people would say yes, and people have never lived better than now, with their plasma TV's, their SUV's, and their enclosed swimming pools. But I have a notion that the best life in what is now the U.S. was lived by the ancestors of the modern Sioux, Cheyenne, Commanches, and others, before those most hideous of the invaders from across the restless ocean to the east, the Spanish conquistadores, brought them horses and death, and instead they had to get their exercise and fresh air by walking everywhere while looking alive to keep from being trampled by those ultimate badasses of the plains, the hordes of inexhaustible ready-made food, clothing, fuel, and company on the hoof, the bison. Now those were the days in visitor-threatened Texas and thereabouts!


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