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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Peter

The Gideons are not immortal or even nearly-immortal. Hodin stated explicitly that they die of old age:

HODIN: Death became almost unknown to us. It occurred only when the body could no longer regenerate itself, and that happens now only to the very old.

Replace "self-regeneration" with the advance of modern medicine, and you get a situation which clearly parallels earth: The population here started to explode because life expectancy increased. So this part of the episode, at least, makes sense.

Also, the misery on Gideon has nothing to do with the problems that are normally associated with immortality. They aren't tired of life. Their problem isn't some existential terror of eternity.

As for the intended moral of the episode... When Kirk suggests the idea of birth control, Hodin answers:

HODIN: We are incapable of destroying or interfering with the creation of that which we love so deeply. Life, in every form, from foetus to developed being. It is against our tradition, against our very nature. We simply could not do it.

And we are to believe that this, basically, is the reason that Gideon is in such a predicament.

Does that answer your question?
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Peter
(yay! we're back on topic!)

I think the episode makes it pretty clear that we shouldn't find the chosen "solution" to make logical sense or be dignified. Kirk clearly doesn't think so, and he is supposed to be the avatar of goodness and justice in TOS.

As for why the Gideonians haven't chosen a different way to reduce their numbers, could it be that they lack the space to do so? A virus has the advantage of being carried by an already existing person. It doesn't need any additional space to reproduce, either.

Then again, the entire episode doesn't really make sense. How could such a society, where people are packed like sardines, even function?

It sorta works as an allegory, but the premise crumbles down under any kind of scrutiny.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 10:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

I doubt it, given that they didn't have paper back then and you don't speak a word of Assyrian.

And I'm not sure why you're turning this into a joke. Aren't you curious? It's like having first contact with an alien civilization. I think it's fascinating to see what changed and what remained the same.

Don't you agree?
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Jason R.

I began doing so while you were writing your comment :-)

I decided to take my own advice and started going down this rabbit hole. Took me less than 5 minutes to find the first text - a love letter from 1680:

https://folgerpedia.folger.edu/Love_letter_from_Philip_Williams_to_Elizabeth_Nalson_circa_1680

Isn't that sweet? So far, it seems that the people of the past aren't that different than us at all. Maybe other texts will prove otherwise, though. This is going to be a fascinating ride, I can already tell :-)

By the way, if Pedro (or anybody else) can recommend specific documents to read, I'll be happy to do so. I bet he knows of some really great stuff.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

Books, letters, dairies and wills would - no doubt - be a far superior source to a scholar who confuses his personal interpretations with the actual sources he is studying.

Basically, everything that Pedro has written here is hearsay, colored by his own (very 21st-century) biases. Him being an expert does not change this fact. It's strange how the same person who repeatedly claims that "we can never understand the people of the past" has also appointed himself as their spokesman.

I say: Let the people of the past speak for themselves. Thanks to the internet, countless authentic documents are at your fingertips.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Peter G.

Nothing was dismissed with "the wave of a hand".

Look... Pedro's argument can be divided to two parts:
(1) The part which romanticizes the 17th century, claims that it was an era of "awe and wonder", and blames the enlightment for losing that precious thing.
(2) Everything else.

Now, only statement #1 was relevant to the discussion we were having when Pedro arrived. If you scroll back to Pedro's first comment, you'll see that this - indeed - was the emphasis of his original post.

What happened next, is that people like myself pointed out just how baseless statement #1 is. It was not "dismissed with the wave of a hand", but refuted with actual counter-arguments.

At this point, Pedro shifted the goal posts and suddenly claimed that statement #1 was never the crux of his argument. He started spreading all over the place, up to the point where the things he said were no longer relevant to... well, anything.

So I really don't see the point of trying to shoehorn this massive distraction into the topic of the episode. You know why I call it a shoehorn? Because referencing Pedro's statements has made your own points more difficult to follow, rather than making them clearer.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Jason R.
"I wasn't intending to insult you just laughing a bit at you stirring up the hornet's nest. "

Speaking of laughing...

I think it's funny that a person who is protecting and supporting a new user whose first act here is to completely derail the conversation (and whose second act here was to spam us with a text-wall of 12 consecutive comments), has the nerve to claim that others are "stirring up the hornet's nest".

I get a strong vibe of dark gothic pots and kettles here, if you catch my drift ;-)

@Peter G.

I admire your valiant effort.

But if you're serious about keeping this thread on topic, I would like to remind you of something you wrote earlier. You wrote this to Booming:

"I would like to once again point out that having training or understanding in academic fields is in no way requisite to knowing things about the world. Now does a person need to have training in...say...mathematics to understand formal proofs? Almost certainly. But do you need to go to sociology class in order to be able to look someone in the face and say they look unhappy, or to read a diary from 200 years ago and describe their self-reported experience of life? Hell no."

I agree completely.

And while you wrote this about Booming, the same thing - really - can be written about Pedro and most the resulting "discussion". 90% of the arguments on this thread read like a pompous debate between social studies professors who are completely out of touch with their subject matter.

Worse: Whenever someone tries to inject a bit of grounded common sense into the discussion, the "experts" brush it off as "irrelevant" and continue their pointless bickering.

Haven't you noticed, Peter, than every good point you've made was somehow ignored? That this thread is going round and round in circles? That by this point, this thread is drowning in pointless pure academics that have nothing to do with reality?

In short:

If we want to keep this thread on topic, perhaps we should stop cooperating with this kind of derailment?

Food for thought.


P.S.

It's hilariously ironic, how Pedro is over-analyzing everything and giving scholarship so much weight (and common sense so little weight) while - in the same breath - also complaining that modern society is over-analytical and over-physicalist.

Seems to me like he is projecting his own discontent on society, where it is just his own personal problem.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Pedro

"Until one day, so far removed from us societally and coloured by some future, to us unknowable theories, scholars will be writing things about us so outlandish that you wouldn't recognise yourself, and would never agree to them. A bit like we are seeing in the present thread, only about the past."

Funny, I wasn't aware of any 17th-century peasants who are posting on this thread...

Anyway, nice of you do admit that history scholars are often out of touch from the societies they study. Makes me wonder what the heck was the point of you derailing this thread in the first place.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 6:14am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Booming
"Uh uh uh. Now I get it. A month or so ago I made a joke extra for you which you hated and I was really puzzled because I thought a conservative would appreciate making fun of left wing extremist speech patterns."

I don't appreciate making fun of people in general. And given your past behavior here, I found it hard to believe that there was not malice behind your "joke" (I also find it hard to believe that your intention was to mock left wing extremists...)

Rest assure that my reaction had nothing to do with my specific political views.

@Pedro

"I could elaborate, and write another twelve pages. But I trust you get my point."

Yes, I get your point.

You're trying to distract us from your original claims with a huge irrelevant wall-of-text.

I'm sorry, but as I read your (very very long) text, I don't see anything that we've "lost". You've painted a society that is full of crazy dogmatic ideas which people believed without question. A society in which fear and terror were commonplace. A society with a twisted "sense of purpose" that caused an enormous amount of suffering.

How is any of this positive? How is any of this conductive to feelings of awe and wonder? Why should we want any of that barbaric craziness back in our lives?

So far you haven't given any compelling argument for that judgement of yours. Nothing except cliches of "teleology good, physicalism bad".
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 4:08am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Booming
"You are conservative Omicron..."

How on earth have your reached that conclusion?

I'm seriously asking. Because I've never thought of myself as conservative and never voted conservative either.

See, this is why Jason's quip got on my nerves. I rushed to the aide of his camp which I don't even agree with (at least not in 90% of the times). I did it because - in my view - they were attacked unfairly... and I got a "Here we Go" for my troubles. Next time I won't bother.

At any rate, I'm really curious as to why you labeled me as you did.

"It's funny that Pedro makes the argument that we have lost our sense of awe and wonder here, at a star trek forum. Shows about the wonders of the galaxy. Shows about people who often take the time to marvel at the beauty of the cosmos."

Yeah.

What's even funnier is that the Star Trek ethos is a counter-example to pretty much every single one of Pedro's arguments. Beyond awe and wonder, Classic Trek also demonstrates how a humanist secular view can give us a clear sense of purpose and a clear view of absolute morality.

Of-course, most people (both in the 17th century and today) are completely disconnected from such things. They were/are too busy swallowing society's dogmas to fully appreciate what either science or religion have to offer.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jul 5, 2021, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

On second thought, don't bother answering.

If you're okay with Booming trashing on your camp, it's fine with me. Next time someone says something like that, I won't bother crying foul.

There, happy? Did we dodge the bullet of "Here we go again"?

----------------------------------------------------------------------

...and now we return you to your original program.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jul 5, 2021, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Jason

What the heck is that supposed to mean?
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jul 5, 2021, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Booming
"In Europe things seem to calm down. Right wing populists have lost elections in GB, Denmark, France, Austria, Greece and Spain to name a few. "

Why are you - again - connecting "right wing" with hate? Why this one-sided description? Do you always have to sneak in your political biases into these discussions?

It's kinda ironic, that you've done this in a discussion about how "one half of the population hates the other half". Don't you think?

Seriously, Booming, after everything the world has gone through in the past couple of years, you should have known better.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jul 5, 2021, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Pedro Q.
"What is thunder and lightning? What are volcano eruptions, and earthquakes?
What is life? What is love? What are thoughts, and dreams? What are the mountains, and the seas? What are the winds, and the storms? What is the growth of the child? What is memory, and forgetfulness? What is the soul?"

My dear brother,

if you think that modern science somehow makes these questions less "wondrous" or "awe-inspiring" then you are missing a lot of what life has to offer.

The more we understand the physical world, the better equipped we are to connect with the cosmos and appreciate its majesty. And the more we understand human nature and the mind, the better equipped we are to appreciate ourselves and our needs.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Peter
"But in agreeing with Jason R. you're actually agreeing with Pedro as well, whose point was that people overstate the extent to which life was horrible in the past (even for the underclasses)."

No. Pedro's point was much stronger and more extreme than that.

You might want to reread his comments.

"It follows from this that our POV of suffering is different from how it used to be. This is also what I meant above about shifting baselines."

True... up to a point.

But this concept of shifting baselines is a far cry from claiming that - to the people of the past - losing a child was no big deal.

"What I think people are finding so objectionable is Pedro's proposed explanation of *why* people back then were able to endure more than we are today while seemingly still having a sense of awe and wonder at the world (according to his research)."

I find both his "what" and his "why" to be objectionable.

Even if we ignore the "why", I find the idea that people thought "suffering is irrelevant" to be downright obnoxious. The idea that the people of the 17th century simply didn't care when a child died or their friends where arbitrarily executed, is downright insulting towards these people.

In short:

Shifting baselines - yes. A trivialization of suffering - no.

As for the "why":

The problem with Pedro's agrument is that there's nothing special about religion. I honestly don't see any functional difference between the religious dogma of the 17th century and the secular dogmas that shape our society today.

There are many ways to connect to the cosmos.

There are many ways to find meaning in life.

There are many ways to cope with suffering and misfortune.

And the craziest thing about Pedro's argument is his claim that our knowledge of the scientific world somehow damaged our ability to (1) connect with the cosmos and (2) be happy.

It's crazy, because the unrest in modern society stems from the exact opposite of rational scientific thought. Modern unhappiness stems from dogmatic cult-like thinking which has absolutely nothing to do with science. Ironically, it stems from the very same forces that drove religion in the 17th century.

And that's not a good thing.

"I don't think Pedro's argument is that we should turn back the clock. I think it's that we had something that we've lost in our understanding of life. "

The problem is that you can't have one without the other.

The thing that we have "lost" is a false sense of certainty. It may have felt good, but it also came at a heavy price.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 7:20am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Jason

Whether Pedro's posts are "politically charged" is debatable.

What isn't debatable, is that his view of the era are oversimplistic and grossly optimistic. And that his view of our present day is just biased in the opposite direction.

I refer you to an excellent bit of common sense which you've written yourself:

"Was it horrible to lose a child in 17th century England? Presumably. Could people have reacted to it the way that a 21st century urban soccer mom or a Walmart checkout mother would if her 6 year old got run over by a bus or died of cancer? Not if they had a functioning society they didn't!"

And I agree completely (on both counts).

See how far simple common sense can get you?

And that's the problem with Pedro's comments. They defy common sense. They present the life of the 17th century as an absurdly rosy caricature: "Awe and wonder was everywhere"... "suffering was irrelevant"... It's all so one-sided that it is impossible to take seriously.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPHI
Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 1:35am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Pedro
"I am speaking of the way we perceive the cosmos, and life itself. This affects the questions we ask in life, and the answers we give. All this affects what we consider important in existence, what we consider trivial, and what we consider irrelevant, or simply incomprehensible."

Yes, and you are wrong.

The notion that the people of the 17th century considered their day-to-day suffering "irrelevant" is absurd. The idea that - somehow - they considered losing over half their kids to disease "trivial" is downright monstrous.

"Life expectancy was low precisely due to the high infant mortality. Most people who lived past childhood could expect to become fifty."

So basically you're saying that if we ignore all the dead kids, life was great back then? Not sure how this is supposed to be a counter-argument to my statement.

And it's not even true (see below).

"Many who had less physically demanding work reached seventy or even eighty—just like today."

Only those who were lucky.

Many died at age 10 or 20 or 30 or 40. Infection could get you at any time. The fact that a lucky minority managed to live to a ripe old age does not this fact.

It's a bit like cancer and traffic accidents today. Only in those days, the death rates were far higher.

"[all the rest]"

The rest of your argument boils down to saying "people back then where all religious, so they all had a similar world view". You're narrowing the entirety of human experience to one aspect of it.

And that's simply false.

No, the noblemen and the slaves of the 17th century did *not* have a similar world view, even though they all believed in the Bible.

No, a present-day billionaire has virtually nothing in common with an underpaid worker, even though they might both believe in the god called "the almighty dollar".

Also, there isn't necessarily a connection between belief in God and a sense of connection and awe. I know plenty of religious people who are completely disconnected from reality. People who are mindless zealots who parrot what their priests tell them and have exactly zero sense of awe and wonder.

I also know of a quite a few atheists who have deeply spiritual and meaningful lives.

In short, the two things have absolutely nothing to do with one another (and I say this as a religious person).
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OmicronThetaDeltaPHI
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Jason R.
"I'm puzzled why Booming or Omicron would be arguing so vociferously against any of this."

Because Pedro's cynical argument is not just wrong, but downright dangerous.

It's the classic fundamentalist rant against any kind of progress: "In the good old days we had God and morality and values. Then came the enlightenment and ruined everything".

And it's combined with the even worse argument that 17th century people were affected less by death and suffering. That the persecuted in those days had a similar point of view to the oppressors.

It's downright embarrassing to see such a view on a Star Trek forum.

So are you still puzzled, Jason? ;-)
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Pedro
"In conclusion, different ages beget different worldviews, which ask different questions and experience vastly different problems. The kind of concerns of our times that we are discussing were not perceived as problems then."

This is wrong on two counts:

1. Some of the top philosophers of those days openly stated that prejudice and racism and slavery are wrong.

2. Just because a society is not aware of a problem, does not make it less of a problem. Absolute morality, remember?

@Booming
"And while you say that you despise relativism, saying that we cannot judge past times is just historical relativism. "

Well said.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Pedro

I'm sorry, but from the things you've written it is clear that you have absolutely no idea how people lived in the 17th century.

You say that the people of the 17th century were full of awe and wonder. Sorry, but no. The average 17th century person was too busy working in the field and trying to survive another day. Life expectancy in those days was around 30, and parents lost most of their kids to all kinds of diseases.

And that's if they were lucky enough to be free men. If you were a slave or a member of any shunned minority, you would have been even worse off.

So I'm sorry, but the way you romanticize that era is downright ridiculous.

I do agree with this part, though:

"[start quote]
As para-social communication has become the norm, we can no longer even interpret people’s emotions correctly, let alone deal with them. Increasingly, people are discontent. Increasingly there is discord. Frustration. Depression, and desperation. Isolation, and loneliness. We are increasingly becoming strangers to ourselves.

And we can no longer cope with anything. Today we need manuals for everything human: we have become like children. People have lost fundamental notions of what it means to be human, and how to deal with other human beings. How to deal with pain, anger, sorrow, envy. How to deal with the profound loneliness of our times. We see ghosts everywhere, get infuriated at every moment, feel offended by everything, and treat every minor inconvenience as a catastrophe. Concomitantly, our vocabulary itself is being fast reduced. We increasingly seem to possess infantile levels of maturity and speech only.
[end quote]"

All true.

But this is a decline that began in the past decade or so. It does not negate the huge amount of progress we've made in the previous 400 years... at least not yet.

As for this:
"Three hundred years from now, they will say something similar of us as you just said of the seventeenth century."

Indeed they will, and they would be 100% correct.

As much as life has improved in the past few centuries, we are still an immature barbaric species. Our 24th century descendants will not remember us fondly, and they will not be mistaken.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jun 29, 2021, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

The most straightforward solution to the meat problem is very simple: Eat less meat. This gets two birds in one stone: people become healthier, and food production becomes more efficient (animal products require roughly 10 times more land - per calorie - then vegetable products).

Non-renewable resources are indeed a problem, which is why we should find alternatives as quickly as possible. This is true whether our population is 500 million or 20 billion. Solar power and fusion are the way to go in the long run.

Though I wouldn't worry too much about uranium-235. Uranium packs about A MILLION TIMES MORE ENERGY when compared to fossil fuels, so it's going to last for quite a while. And even when it runs out, we could use Thorium instead. These materials won't quite last forever, but we can safely rely on them for centuries (at the very least).
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jun 29, 2021, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Trish

Oxygen isn't a problem. One modest sized-tree (or alternatively 60 square meters of grass) produces the oxygen needs for one person.

Moreover, our fossil-fuel based powerplants use up far more oxygen that our bodies do. So once we move to renewable energy sources, we'll actually use up *less* oxygen regardless of population.

Food is a trickier question, but I doubt it would be a problem either. After all, we are already feeding about 7 billion people wordwide, even though our strategy (as far as there is one) is horribly inefficient. So it stands to reason that we would be able to feed twice as much, if we only cooperated on a global level and actually committed to the task.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jun 28, 2021, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Booming

I'm very surprised to see that "Politicians" didn't make the list.

At any rate, the really scary thing about your list is that most of those jobs are the last place where we'd want a psychopatic person to be in (Lawyers are the only possible exception). Why do we - as society - let this happen?

It's not like psychopatic billionaires manage to fool us that they are nice people, right? Everybody knows that they are greedy selfish bastards. So why do we keep "voting" for them with our dollars? Why does society shoot itself in the foot in this manner?

It boggles the mind.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jun 28, 2021, 6:01am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Rahul
"Not to beat a dead horse but there's one thing that deeply disturbs/offends me about EventualZen's comment. Folks should have no doubt in their minds about what this lunatic is really up to and we've actually seen it in Trek enough times. "

Nah. EventualZen himself (herself?) is *not* a lunatic or a psychopath. S/he is just a naive idealist who didn't think about the full implications of these ideas.

The scary thing, though, is that there *are* power-hungry psychos who prey on this kind of naivete. We got a glimpse of what a disaster this could be with all the race-related riots last year. It is incredibly easy to manipulate good idealistic people to do evil, especially when they are not aware of being manipulated.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jun 28, 2021, 5:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

This whole "overpopulation is a problem" mantra is complete rubbish, due to 2 very simple facts:

1. World population is already levelling off naturally.
2. Our current technology can easily support the comfort, health and safety of 10+ billion people.

Those who argue otherwise are simply unaware of the immense power of present day technology and/or the abundance of resources on our planet. We have the power to create a worldwide utopia right now, had we really put our minds to it.

Just for perspective:

If you divide the Earth's land surface evenly among 15 billion people, that's a full 9900 square meters (a whopping 2.4 acres) FOR EVERY PERSON ON THE PLANET.

As for energy:

Devote 1% (a 10mx10m square per person) of this area for solar panels with a 10% efficiency. This can maintain - indefinitely - a power of 3.2 kW which is OVER TWICE the current per capita energy consumption in the United States, with zero pollution and zero CO2 emissions.

These are just averages for the entire planet, of-course. But they demonstrate that humanity does not lack either land or resources to maintain even double of it's current population. What humanity lacks is an ounce of common sense (which is why we continue fighting among ourselves, and why people are actually *paying* the megatech companies to spy on them, and why we're poisoning our air with fossil fuels when we already have better alternatives).

In short: we really *really* need to get our sh*t together.
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