X-Message-Number: 5952
From: Peter Merel <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #5948 - #5951
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 23:53:34 +1000 (EST)

Thomas Donaldson writes,

>   What matters in terms of the number of people that Tasmania (or wherever)
>   can support is just how many THEIR technology can support. To us, 
>   Tasmania is quite large enough to support a whole country. To the 
>   original Tasmanians, it could support far fewer people. I'd have to hunt
>   up the reference, but I understand that even without the arrival of
>   Europeans the Tasmanians were slowly decreasing in number and would have
>   eventually become extinct.

I seem to recall hearing something similar to this; my recollection is that
archaeology has found evidence of a considerably higher culture on Tasmania
than the white invaders saw when they started their genocide.

On a related topic, I have found a number of articles supporting the idea
that the Maya collapsed due to unsustainable agriculture, so I'll count
them back in; on the net you might like to look at 


>   If you want to claim that ALL civilizations destroy themselves, 

Oh no, that's much too broad. In fact I think we're in agreement; I'm
saying that there is a race between technological development and
ecological damage, that some (but not all) earlier civilizations have
failed in that race, and that I'm not certain what the outcome will be
in our case because both trends are so very advanced. 

I've tried to gather up some of the arguments I've found on both sides
into a web page. It's a bit too polemical right now, and the name needs
to be changed on account of I've recently learned (Thanks, Edgar!) that
FM-2030, one of the progenitors of extropianism, already has dibs on it,
but you might like to peek at "The Up-Wing Home Page" at


Be warned, it's a new page and there's a _lot_ of half-baked stuff there ...

>   We are close to pushing the limits of the planet Earth:
>   not so close as environmentalists claim, but close in terms of hundreds
>   of years. 

Can you provide any support for that timescale? 

>   But if we do not we will enter into a long decline and finally die out. 

What suggests that, if we end up on the short end of the stick, we won't
experience a short decline?

>   And perhaps to annoy some readers, I'd say that many environmentalists
>   would probably oppose any idea of going into space, just as they opposed
>   nuclear energy and various other things which would make the world a
>   cleaner place and decrease our load on the ecosystem. 

I reckon you're right. Unfortunately, as you can see on that up-wing page,
it seems that most environmentalists are not interested in anything but
stopgap conservation and political contention. There are exceptions to this
of course, but they tend to be kind of quiet and un-newsworthy ...

As to Jeff Soreff's alarm at Darwin's article, I confess that that
article scares me too, and I think it should scare all of us. Of course
I have no idea what Mike is really seeing, and haven't anything but his
description to go by. I wonder whether he has any more to add to it now?

Peter Merel.

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