We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

If that’s not bad enough, researchers at the University of Maryland insist that global warming will destroy civilization. A forthcoming journal article asserts that expanding population and the difference in wealth between the rich (“the elites”) and the poor (“commoners”) will bring down the United States in the way the barbarians brought down the Roman Empire. There’s a solution, of course. Higher taxes, increased regulation and more government supervision of everyone’s lives, and other liberal nostrums.

[...]

Sacrificing babies to the ancient gods of Carthage didn’t save that ancient empire, and abortion won’t chill the climate today. The public is tuning out the likes of Al Gore and his prophecies because they notice that two decades of hysterical predictions haven’t come true.

In a climate of skepticism, the only way for scientists with a scam to get attention (and government grants) is to concoct ever more over-the-top claims. If driving a Chevy Volt will reduce incidents of rape or a curlicue light bulb will rescue Western civilization, a finding that Earth’s temperature hasn’t budged in 210 months should be something to celebrate. It means the planet is doing just fine.

– Extract from a Washington Times editorial.

A rather spiffing article in spite of the preposterous use of the word ‘liberal’ to refer to illiberal collectivism.

51 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • CaptDMO

    Global warming, destroy civilization?
    Not before “stasis” does.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    It has been my observation that those who love to wax lyrical about “overpopulation” are, without exception, misanthropes. It’s not that they love Mother Gaia, they just hate people. People who are not them, obviously. They, and the people they care about, should be exempt from any cull or enforced sterilisation.

    They also don’t seem to think about just how violent an act it is to prevent people from being able to have children. Sooner or later you end up with women tied to beds undergoing forced abortions, just as you see in China.

    “One child laws” are not the cuddly alternative to mass genocide the Watermelons seem to think they are.

  • John Galt

    > two decades of hysterical predictions haven’t come true.

    Try _five_ decades. Remember “the coming ice age”?

    The next time some “overpopulation” advocate regales you with the evils of too many people, you should do what I do – suggest that they set an example for all of us and kill themself.

    Guaranteed to end the conversation.

  • Mr Ed

    The next time some “overpopulation” advocate regales you with the evils of too many people, you should do what I do – suggest that they set an example for all of us and kill themself.

    Don’t be hasty, ask the advocate if they wish to ensure reductions in populations according to K, the carrying capacity of the environment? Then ask that advocate how many of the ‘excess population’ are African, how many are Asian, and which areas of Asia? Do they have a plan for ratios of population reductions to ensure balance? If not, why have they not thought this through? If they have such plans, will those plans result in differential population reductions?

    But ask nicely and sound concerned but keen, there’s more chance of the advocate letting slip the real plan.

  • Ljh

    Didn’t Ehrlich predict worldwide famine for the eighties? By now we’re supposed to have eaten each other ina Malthusian mayhem and run out of every raw material necessary for civilized life as envisioned in the sixties.

  • Mr Ed

    By now we’re supposed to have eaten each other ina Malthusian mayhem

    Yes Ljh, but not as was predicted by Ehrlich, it’s just called the National Debt.

  • Runcie Balspune

    It has been my observation that those who love to wax lyrical about “overpopulation” are, without exception, misanthropes.

    I normally find them hypocritical, Spike Milligan the classic example, who actively campaigned against overpopulation despite having four children, when his childless secretary pointed out this conundrum he said it was fine because he’d made up for her allocation of two, this was all the more pathetic when it was later revealed he had another two children through affairs (total six).

  • Stuck-Record

    John Galt

    I’ve done exactly that, several times.

    It doesn’t go down too well.

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    Ljh- get a grip on reality! He made that prediction for the seventies! Ans he lost a bet with a scientist about the price of metals over a decade! That guy is really an anti-prophet! you could make a fortune betting AGAINST him!

  • Tedd

    …run out of every raw material necessary for civilized life as envisioned in the sixties.

    I haven’t seen Oleo in years, so there’s that.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yeah, well, I hope you blighters with your heads stuck firmly into the sand will be happy when the inevitable happens. Remember your Frost (the poet, not Jack): “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice…”? Well, Mr. Jeff Dunetz, the Yid with Lid, has a piece up about the horrors that await us all. His column on this frightening topic, which is worth reading in full, ends thus:

    “First we were entering a warming period that was going to result in NY City being under water. When that was proven wrong, they switched to major storms being caused by climate change (as opposed to global warming). When that was proved wrong, the earth is going to freeze. Of course that claim may turn out to be correct … because the Earth is long overdue for an ice age.”

  • Julie near Chicago

    Tedd, you may think you haven’t seen oleo lately, but unless you lucky Canucks inhabit a better, finer Paradise than we Yanks do, you’ve still got to be careful walking past the dairy case lest the oleomargarine leap out and grab you by the shorts.

    Personally I won’t have the stuff in the house. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only good for greasing airplane struts.

    I swore off it as something edible when I left home to go to college — I never believed that noise about “butter is bad for you.” And I mostly grew up on oleo because it’s cheaper. For awhile there it was sort of almond-colored and came in a sealed plastic bag, with a capsule of deep-orange food coloring in it. You poked at the bag until the capsule broke, releasing the dye, and then kneaded the coloring into the oleo. Are you old enough to remember that? Not difficult, but a nuisance. See, the dairy industry didn’t want anyone to be misled by the color into buying it because it looked like butter. So laws were passed to prohibit the margarine-makers from coloring their margarine yellow. I love the ’50’s. :)

    LOL! Actually, I do love the 50’s. We didn’t even lock our doors at night. And we all loved riding in the back of somebody’s dad’s pick-up truck. *Sigh….*

  • Larry Sheldon

    If I pretended to be smart, I would call this “The Malthusian Fallacy”.

  • Paul Marks

    Perry the decline of liberalism goes back a long time – even before like Richard Ely (in the United State – the mentor of both T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) and T.H. Green and co in Britain, came up with the “New Freedom” (statism – bigger government not smaller government)liberalism was in terrible trouble.

    For example J.S. Mill (the main “liberal philosopher” of the mid 19th century) was broadly in favour of government doing more and more (and his economics is based on the, FALSE, assumption that there is a “distribution” problem, that modern industry produces lots of stuff but this does not lead to higher incomes for “the workers”).

    And even respectable Walter Bagehot (third editor of the you-know-what magazine) defined liberal politics as “conceding what it is safe to concede” (i.e. having the government provide more services and so on – but not as much as the socialists wanted).

    Do I have to tell anyone want the eventual practical consequences of following even the mid 19th century thinkers (such as Mill and Baghehot) are?

    It is indeed “socialism by the instalment plan”. Whether Mill and Baghehot(and on and on) knew it or not.

    Even in Europe the victory of such liberal projects as “Italian Unification” led to bigger (not smaller) government.

    Bottom line?

    Do not look at words like “freedom” and “liberty” – ask basic POLICY questions.

    “Are you in favour of less or more public [government] services”,

    If the people or groups want more government services it does not matter if they call themselves “conservatives” (like Disraeli – a total shit) or “liberals” or even “Classical Liberals” (see above).

  • Paul Marks

    As for CO2 and global warming.

    Are these people (the American “liberals”) in favour of deregulating American industry so that manufacturing can return from China?

    No they are not. They are in favour of MORE regulations (and more taxes) – driving more manufacturing to China (where MORE, not less, C02 will be produced), and then the goods have to be shipped back to the United States and Europe thus producing even more C02.

    Are they (the “liberals”) at least in favour of deregulating nuclear power? After all the spider’s web of regulations does not improve safety (quite the contrary).

    No they are in favour of more regulation of nuclear power – if not an outright ban upon it.

    I think it is clear from all the above that whatever the real motivation of these “liberals” is – the motivation is NOT to reduce emissions of C02.

  • Libertarian

    When someone tells me the world is over populated, I ask them for a definition of “over populated.” In my view, overpopulation means that the number of people is the cause of distress (lack of food, etc.) If there’s some country in Africa where hundreds of thousands of people are starving, I counter that you could have all but a thousand of them emigrate, and the those remaining would STILL be in dire straits — therefore population is not the problem.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Call me daft if you like, but when well-to-do WASPs at some charity event talk about how much they want to help the third world by reducing overpopulation, I’m always plagued by the feeling that at some level, they just don’t like the idea of there being bazillions of poor/disabled/religious/Jewish/brown/yellow people all over the place. It has become unacceptable to say this, so they find another way of saying the same thing that makes it sound more palatable. When I read about the frankly evil statements of the early Fabians and their contemporaries in the abortion/overpopulation movement, I’m always struck by how though the language has changed the objectives appear to remain the same.

    As much as I detest the readiness of some to play the racism card, I often wonder if the so-called progressives are the real racists and bigots. Barring the Aryan nations, even the worst racist usually only wants to have nothing to do with people of other races. Insofar as these things go, that’s pretty innocuous. However the charity-gala-attending American and British upper classes want to pre-emptively wipe them out through contraception and abortion. They try to stop brown people from conceiving more brown people, and when that fails they try to ensure those conceived brown people never get to be born.

  • lowlylowlycook

    To expand on Paul Marks comment:

    Are liberals in favor of having the UN ban catalytic converters or are they in favor of making such a ban part of whatever new climate treaty that they want enacted?

    After all the bad effects of smog, etc. are nothing compared to the extra CO2 emissions that you get with lower gas mileage.

  • NickM

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.
    Robert Frost

  • Larry Sheldon

    I still think (if you are not being paid by the word) that “Malthusian Fallacy” says it all. (I’ll accept “elitism” as a worth alternative.)

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    Happy World Harmonica Day! If you don’t have a world harmonica, go out and buy one. That will make harmonicanists very happy, so they won’t start wars, apparently.

  • Laird

    Nick, I can’t find any information on World Harmonica Day (but would like to celebrate it if appropriate). Can you provide a citation or source?

  • RogerC

    I have a harmonica and I’m feeling pretty cheerful today, if that helps. Certainly not planning to invade anyone, if that’s what you’re worried about.

  • Rob

    The Erlich Fallacy, please. Let’s get his name nailed to it.

  • Laird

    Thanks for the info, RogerC. But I was rather sad to see it; I like the idea of Harmonica Day much better. (I have several harmonicas, too, and I’m generally a reasonably cheerful fellow.)

    Rob, Erlich certainly deserves opprobrium. But Malthus got there first.

  • The best and final words on the left’s population obsession were written by P J O’Rourke (who else).

    “Way too much of you, not nearly enough of me.”

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    There’s an even better one Taylor:

    Fretting about overpopulation, is a perfect guilt-free— indeed, sanctimonious— way for “progressives” to be racists.

  • Paul Marks

    One of the (many) bad things about modern “liberals” (including “liberal conservatives” such as Mr C. and Mr O.) is that they think that the free market is the CREATION OF GOVERNMENT.

    For example last week’s establishment Economist magazine was dominated by “Anti Trust” stuff.

    They (the elite university people) really think a “free market” is lots and lots of regulations from the government

    Indeed sometimes they go further (into total insanity).

    For example describing the government takeover of the City of London (from the old private companies and clubs) in the mid 1980s as the “deregulation” of the Big Bang.

    The government (and its courts) telling people what the market “should” look like (OR ELSE) is “deregulation” utterly crushing private property rights.

    I remind people that the London Stock Exchange (and so on) had no legal power of monopoly – one could sell shares on other exchanges (such as the Liverpool Exchange) or deal “off exchange”.

    Certain rules and customs had evolved over time in these private companies and associations (which people were NOT forced to go to) – because this proved to be best for the customers (unlike now – where “the City” specialises in looting private investors, as “financial advisers” are really salesmen working for companies, not self employed people working for their clients as Stock Brokers used to be), this was all scrapped (as “restrictive practices”) and replaced by thousands of pages of government regulations.

    And this is called “deregulation” to establish a “free market”.

  • Larry Sheldon

    The Erlich Fallacy, please. Let’s get his name nailed to it.

    OK, I’ll confess. Erlich? The only one I can find is the inventor of the magic bullet and chemotherapy.

    Malthus is the first one I heard of that said the population would exceed the food supply, several doublings ago.

  • Larry Sheldon

    Rob, Erlich certainly deserves opprobrium. But Malthus got there first.

    Thank you, Laird.

    But I’ll still have to work out who this “Erlich” is.

  • Deep Lurker

    I’m one of those misanthropes who think the Earth is overpopulated. The amount of personal elbow-room that I would like to have as a modest, middle-class sort of aspiration in a wealthier more advanced future is already 10 times greater than the average land-area-per-human on the planet. I also attribute much of the madness of the modern world to this overcrowding. As Heinlein put it: “Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens are the only animal that voluntarily does this to themselves.”

    The future, as far as I can tell, belongs to the claustrophiles, to the sort of human beings who can tolerate and enjoy much higher population densities, the sort resistant to the madness, with my tribe being doomed to an absent-minded ethnic cleansing or slow-motion genocide.

    And that makes me grumpy.

    Worse, there is no good solution. I don’t buy the usual socialist/fascist/environmentalist proposals because (a) they won’t work, and (b) they’d be hideously evil even if they did work.

    On the other hand, this means that I’m the sort that laughs at the alarms occasionally raised about fertility rates falling below replacement. From my point of view, this is not a problem, but rather the best hope we have, even if it is not a very good hope.

  • Laird

    Larry, it was misspelled; should have been Paul Ehrlich.

  • Larry Sheldon

    Oh. Him. Also ran.

  • renminbi

    Paul Ehrlich. At least spell the chump’s name correctly.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Deep Lurker, don’t be daft. There’s plenty of room to go around.

    If you like your space, your best bet is to move somewhere few or no other people want to live. Like up a mountain, the middle of a desert, a seastead or somewhere with an Arctic or Antarctic climate.

    If we did that (particularly seasteading), the planet could support 10 times its current population, and there’d still be room for privacy. And Earth’s population is not going to reach 10 times it’s current population. Decline in fertility rates globally makes it likely we’ll max out somewhere around 10 billion and then start falling again.

  • Thon Brocket

    Absolutely the smallest, least buoyant straw I’ve seen the watermelons grasp yet.

  • Thon, this is what I posted in the comments on that site:

    Dear God… yeah moments like this make me forget I am actually an atheist… is there *ANY* story you will not try and work the preposterous ‘climate change’ narrative into? I guess you didn’t get the memo that it now make you look like a bit like a Flat Earth theorist.

    Additives in peanut butter… blame ‘climate change’. Racism in sport… climate change. Russia annexes the Crimea… yup, that too is down to climate change.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perry, I do have the explanation and it’s dead cert. It’s the space aliens. They messed up the climate to see what we chickenheads would do (and as expected we–well, they: present company certainly excepted–started flopping around like squawking, albeit headless, chickens). This business with the Malaysian airliner is just the same old same-old they used to pull all the time in the Bermuda Triangle.

    I tried to post this, prompted by your excellent comment (which I actually read in situ, just to check if the milk of sanity might have trickled down onto the fruits and nuts), but alas you have to register or sign on with Dreadful Disqus, which is against every principle that god and the angels hold dear.

    Good job. :>))

  • Larry Sheldon

    Deep Lurker, don’t be daft. There’s plenty of room to go around.

    When the next lot of tuits arrives I look for something appropriate and see if I can find again an article I read sometime ago that said something along the lines of “you could pack all the world’s population into the state of Texas with a population density less than that of Mexico City today”.

    No I didn’t believe it either but I never got anymore tuits to go check it out.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Larry, I would be happy to help you out, but alas all mine were lost in a fire before I was born….

  • Deep Lurker

    Deep Lurker, don’t be daft. There’s plenty of room to go around.

    Only for claustrophile values of “plenty of room.”

    What I think of as “plenty of room” is 10-100 acres of temperate woodland per person. Cruddy desert or arctic/anarctic land doesn’t count. Area covered with water (i.e. seasteading) doesn’t count.

    And 5 people per 1/4 acre (the approximate “pack the world’s population into Texas” density” doesn’t cut it either.

    It’s almost certain that I won’t ever get the amount of personal elbow-room that I consider plenty. But I Will Be Damned before I let myself accept the dictates of Jaded Voluntaryist, Larry Sheldon, or any other claustrophile about what I should consider to be “plenty of room.”

    tl;dr: No. On this subject I insist on being “daft.”

  • Phil B

    Thon,

    The premise of that article (that they cannot find, or are having great difficulty in tracking any debris in the southern ocean because eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil climate change has interfered with the circulatory pattern) presupposes that prior to eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil climate change they could precisely predict ocean currents to (say) the nearest 10 miles.

    If you take an interest in sailing ships and their voyages up to the period just before the start of the second world war, some interesting and pertinent points come up:

    1) The log books of the vessels recorded daily observations of various meteorological data and sea conditions – wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, sea state, water temperature, current direction and speed etc.

    2) These observations were collected, collated and used to update Admiralty charts and HMSO publication Ocean Passages for the World (NP136) which was used by both sailing ships and the early, low powered steam ships to make best use of the currents and winds to make fast, economic passages.

    Glancing at any Admiralty chart and reading Ocean Passages for the World will quickly reveal that after over 200 years of such daily observations and literally hundreds of thousands of such ships (if not millions) submitting into this database that the ocean states (currents etc.) were NEVER predictable to that extent. Currents in particular can change their direction, flow rate and volume and speed and often reverse their direction unpredictably.

    So the false precision that assumes that the direction, sped and limits of an ocean current were as predictable as an escalator which has now been thrown into disarray by eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil climate change (and a pox on the houses of climate change deniers) is, let me put this kindly, untenable.

    My theory is that the Hitchikers Guide to the galaxy is actually correct and that the whole planet is a giant experiment with the Gods of IT throwing random variables into the mix to test what happens is the best explanation.

    Is it any co-incidence that for fligt 370, if you subtract the 3 from the 7 you get 4 and halving 4 again produces 2 which leaves you with the inevitable conclusion that the answe to this mystery is … 42!!!! Case proven M’Lud! It was the aliens wot dun it … with a computer programme, of course.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Deep, no one has ever accused me of being a “claustrophile” before, so thanks. My own preference is for country instead of city, and open spaces instead of high rises. But I also recognise that my own aesthetic preferences don’t confer any specials privaledges on me to wish away a sizeable chunk of earths population just because they don’t fit in with my own personal aesthetic.

    In any case, not everyone wants that 100 acres of woodland, so the fact that 7 billion people can’t all have one is moot. The reason you don’t have it is nothing to do with the population. If the earth’s population was 500 million, in all probability you still wouldn’t have your 100 acres, certainly if your plan is to sit around waiting for the population to drop to level where we all get one. Land will still be owned by someone, and that someone still wont be you.

    If you want 100 acres of wooded elbow room, buy one, put up your “keep out” signs and stop whining about other people having babies. They don’t owe you anything – not your wooded lot and certainly not a say over their reproduction. The only life you get to make choices for is your own.

  • My definition of hell is anything outside of central London. Greenery is something best confined to the salads which accompany my very rare steaks.

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    Harmonica/harmony! Whats a few misquotes between friends?

  • Deep Lurker

    In any case, not everyone wants that 100 acres of woodland, so the fact that 7 billion people can’t all have one is moot. The reason you don’t have it is nothing to do with the population. If the earth’s population was 500 million, in all probability you still wouldn’t have your 100 acres, certainly if your plan is to sit around waiting for the population to drop to level where we all get one. Land will still be owned by someone, and that someone still wont be you.

    The law of supply and demand is still out there: A high population will bid up the price of land, and a low population will cause the price to fall. So the fact that 7 billion people can’t all have 100 acres of woodland each – or even 1 acre of woodland each – is NOT moot. Those 7 billion people are all in the market for land, in a way that necessarily reduces the supply of 100 acre estates.

    If the earth’s population dropped to 500 million, I’d most likely be dead. That’s one reason why I don’t want that to happen. But the fact that I don’t want that to happen doesn’t mean that the alternative of a 7 billion and climbing population is a good one, or that I have to like it. It’s a choice between two horrors, and even if the “high population density” choice is the slightly less horrific one, I still don’t like it.

    In any case, if I could have wishes, I’d wish for more land, rather than fewer people. A population of a trillion on earth would be hell on earth. A population of a trillion in a solar system built up with thousands of earth-equivalents through a Dyson sphere, ringworld, or other mega-construction might be rather pleasant.

    If you want 100 acres of wooded elbow room, buy one, put up your “keep out” signs and stop whining about other people having babies.

    I’ll stop whining about other people having babies when those other people stop putting social, political, and legal pressure on me to not be so “greedy” and “antisocial,” and to “share” that 100 acres of woodland with others.

    (Actually I’m not “whining about other people having babies” – I’m cheering when they don’t, and blowing raspberries at those who whine about people not having babies.)

  • Mr Ed

    Comments on the BBC website re weather show how well the propaganda is working.

  • Larry Sheldon

    I got an email that said [edited]:

    Mr Ed commented on: Samizdata quote of the day.
    [snip]

    This was in response to alecmuff:
    ———-
    If that’s not bad enough, researchers at the University of Maryland insist that global warming will destroy civilization. A forthcoming journal article asserts that expanding population and the difference in wealth between the rich (“the elites”) and the poor (“commoners”) will bring down the United States in the way the barbarians brought down the Roman […]

    ———-

    Comments on the BBC website re weather ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26731790 ) show how well the propaganda is working.

    I can not now find either comment (deleted? misplaced? I’m stupid?) but I don’t see anything offensive, so I post my reply (question, actually):

    I seem to recall reading that there was a technique (silver bullet? stake through the heart?) for killing once and for all that which will not stay dead. Is there such a technique for what I now unilaterally upgrade and call the Malthusian Idiocy, and all of the religious tenets that flow from it?

    And in passing, I understand that some people prefer to live in conditions that are longer legal for egg-producing chickens, and some who think Alaska is overpopulated.

    I tend toward the latter, but old age, wife, and financial situation have forced a compromise at a small track house on a small lot in the outskirts of Nebraska.

    And if some of you will find a way to not sneer at people who have tastes that differs from theirs, I think the world would be a happier place.

  • Mr Ed

    Larry,

    There were around 55 comments, with around 54 mocking the alarmist drivel when I posted. I suspect that the BBC mods saw the trend and cut the comments and replaced the article,

    The gist of the latest ‘prediction’ is ‘mixed’ weather, milder winters, with possibly more snow, hotter, drier summers but warmer air carrying more moisture may mean more rain. i.e. predict all outcomes to ensure vindication.

    Karl Popper at 1,000 rpm.

  • Nick BTF! Gray

    Deep Lurker- how are we supposed to reach those planets, just waiting for humans to tame them? It will take years to develop any sort of spaceship, or wormholes- and even if there are natural wormholes in space, it will take ages to find and exploit them. And if planets are suitable for life, they might have intelligences already on them.
    Thankfully, the solution is education. In countries where women can get an education, the birthrate plummets, so i don’t think we need fear trillions of people.
    Still, as an inventor, trillions of people/customers is an enticing prospect!