This time it was different

As a child I was a consumer of a fair amount of environmentalist alarmism. Not the standard stuff you see on the news, but books like The Population Bomb.

I also read the science fiction classic Stand on Zanzibar. Stand on Zanzibar is about an overpopulated Malthusian world. It is the world of 2010, and the population is 7 billion. The author, John Brunner, was writing in 1968. This was the beginning of the worries about population growth and sustainability.

Brunner was right about the world population in 2010…but it’s not quite the dystopia that he painted. In some places, like the Congo, it is quite hellish. But in much of the world there is a slow but steady advancement, much of it thanks to China.

Rather than the inevitability of a Malthusian crisis due to overpopulation (note that fertility rates peaked in the 1960s) slowly creeping up on us, I think we need to worry about our society’s ability to withstand shocks. Those shocks might destabilize the social matrix which our high productivity society needs to survive, and without that productivity, we will be a Malthusian crisis.

Poachers attacking rhinos in the developed world

This is shocking. Poachers Kill Rhino in Brazen Attack at French Zoo:

On Tuesday morning keepers at Thoiry Zoo, in the suburbs west of Paris, found the body of Vince, a four-year-old white rhino, in his enclosure with wounds to his head and one of his horns likely hacked off by a chainsaw, the zoo said in a statement on its Facebook page. His second horn was partially cut off, suggesting that the culprits may have been interrupted or were using defective equipment after they killed the rare animal on Monday night.

The act was carried out “despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on site and surveillance cameras,” the zoo said. “The entire staff is extremely shocked.”

Tuesday’s gruesome event follows an attack on rhinos at an orphanage in South Africa, home to 70 percent of the remaining 21,000 white rhinos. Armed poachers broke into the Findimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage on February 22 and removed the horns of two 18-month-old rhinos, Impu and Gugu, after tying up staff members. One rhino was killed, and the other was later euthanized.