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 One More Mouth to Feed

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Aug 25, 2001
The world recently celebrated its six-billionth concurrent human being, a babe born in war-torn Sarajevo. The world's population is expected to grow at umpteen percent every year from here until eternity, with any stagnation in developed countries' birth rates more than compensated by booming populations in developing ones.

Accompanying this unprecedented growth is an accelerating competition for resources necessary for even the most basic of human needs. Oil, the fuel our industries live and die by, will likely be depleted within fifty years. Water, once thought abundant, is increasingly scarce. Food supplies, which have so far managed to grow in proportion to demand, cannot be increased indefinitely.

A responsible adult cannot abide these circumstances. A responsible adult cannot sit idly by as his children are loaded into the proverbial handbasket, waving goodbye as he succumbs to drought and famine.

This is why the responsible adult must choose subsistence agriculture.


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Subsistence agriculture has a bold history dating back to well before prehistory. Whereas upstarts like manufacturing and information technology (forming the basis of our market-driven economy today) may prove to be passing fads, subsistence agriculture can be relied upon as a solid bedrock worthy of any self-respecting country.

Where there are no humans, be a human, and where there is no food, grow food. Our traditional (in the sense of recent) economies have relied solely upon some members of the population to grow sufficient sustenance for the rest of the population. But as anyone who's picked up a newspaper lately knows, changing global climates and the nefarious actions of conglomerates like Monsanto have put a severe strain on these market forces. No matter how much fiat currency one holds from employment selling car insurance or practicing chiropractory, it won't do a lick of good if there is no food to buy.

This is why it is critical for individuals to throw off the chains of inter-personal bondage and see to his own needs. Our founding fathers built this nation with a strong libertarian work ethic of self-help and self-reliance. It would be irresponsible to allow yourself to become a burden others must carry, and neither can you trust them to do it.

As the global climate warms, temperate zones will creep northward. Vast previously inhospitable regions like Siberia and Canada will be unlocked to habitation and husbandry. In fact, their extreme latitudes are a boon to agriculture; during the growing seasons, the sun dips below the horizon, and crops may bloom and grow even at midnight. The time will be ripe for you to act.

Step One: stake your claim.

As the Boy Scouts say, be prepared. You can see which way the winds are blowing, and you're fully conscious of the dire times that lie ahead. Therefore, not only is it not irresponsible for you to take drastic action now; it is incumbant upon you to do so. Gather your family and a large stash of munitions (for defending your claims and preventing obstruction by the ignorant or jealous) and head north. Because the regions you're aiming for are uninhabited, as I've said, you should meet little resistence and should find few to contest your squatting claims. In the few cases where you do meet considerable opposition, purchase the necessary lands with the monetary proceeds from the sale of your abandoned possessions. (Feel free to pay whatever exhorbinant prices are demanded; in the world ahead, as I've mentioned, contemporary currency will be less than worthless.)

Gather the implements of your trade.

Before mechanized agriculture was invented, the human race made do with the sweat of its brow and the toils of its companion domesticated animals. In a world without oil, the simple hoe and axe will go a long ways towards putting bread on your table.

Ply your trade

There is no time like the present. The open fields and frosty airs await.

Take many wives and bear many daughters

The secret to successful husbandry is to be a prolific husband. When you're working the land, every hand counts. The more wives you have, the more sons you'll sire who can toil at your side in the fields. But don't overlook the importance of daughters: every daughter is an opportunity to bring a son-in-law onto the estate and into the family enterprise. Through trial and error, you'll determine an optimal number of family members, given the constraints of food and disease.

Don't discourage competition.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it is to your advantage not to concern yourself with rivals setting up their own operations nearby. For starters, few will possess the physical and moral fortitude to your example. And more importantly, once your clan is established and prospering, you can lead raids on neighboring clans and exact tributes of grain and cattle or disposses them entirely with your own colonial offshoots.

Have fun.

Establishing an agricultural fiefdom far outside a pampering modern society can be hard work, but don't forget to take time to enjoy yourself. Befriend the indigenous cultures before decimating them with disease and overwhelming force of arms. Adopt a swagger as you stroll the length and breadth of your domain. Brew an improvised ale or mead, but be sure to consume only in moderation; after all, if you haven't got your health, then you haven't got anything.
Remember, the trick is to get in early while there's still time and space. It will one day come to pass that others will wake up and see the waste and destruction impending around them. Perhaps it won't be until the melted icecaps swell the oceans until they reach doorsteps, and perhaps it won't be until the last drop of oil is spent, but it will happen. You must be prepared to defend your dominion, lest all your hard work be wrested from your grip by the corrupt governments and citizenries you've left behind.

It may not be a rosy picture that lies ahead, but with hard work and a little luck, you'll pull through. The rest of the world will finally know what it's like to be laughed at and tormented by the despair of a thousand wails. They'll ask for mercy and they'll beg for a scrap of bread, but no! They're the ones that hurt you. They're the ones that wouldn't leave you alone with your precious. They're the ones who invented names for you and tried to "help" you with their dirty wards and chilling baths. You must not give in. I won't let you. I won't let you do for them what no one ever did for me, no matter how much I begged; no matter how much I pleaded. They never listened, so cut their ears off and teach them a lesson. I know you're watching, but I won't relent. You can't scare me. I won't let you. You can't scare me, you know. Get that away from me. Get it off me! Go, run, go away. Now. Please.



People today scoff, but... (5.00 / 2) (#3)
by elenchos on Sun Aug 26th, 2001 at 08:44:58 PM PST
...I have slowly come to believe that soon the time will be right to travel to Canada and establish permanent habitation there. This is due to a combination of several factors, as follows:
  • Will. Though the failed Bush administration's one term in office will be judged by history as a sort of tragicomic swan song for the GOP as a politically meaningful entity, we can recognize that it does at least symbolize a return to a more intrepid, courageous spirit. While the nation regurgitates the expired pseudo-Reaganism that it never asked for, the need to seek a new, untamed frontier will stick to the collective American ribs. We will finally follow-up our previous bold forays into Canada and perhaps beyond, because our imagination as a nation, as a world, will be re-fired by the heat of the otherwise non-productive Bush sensibility.
  • Technology. While in the past travel to Canada depended on technology that only nation-states could even consider paying for, today's combination of computer AI, materials science and advanced manufacture makes it possible for many companies and even wealthy individuals to outfit trips to Canada.
  • Climate change. While until very recently, there was no place in the ultra-harsh Canadian landscape that could support human life without essentially bringing a self-contained US-like environment with us in huge vehicles, or sometimes human-sized environment suits, today the souther-most parts of Canada can be explored by extremely hardy individuals with much less gear. This process will only accelerate, leading to the real possibility that perhaps within our own lifetimes, we will see the population of at least some of Canada.
  • Synergy. As more and more individuals are able to make trips into Canada, they will be able to blaze trails, and even leave useful equipment behind (even build base-stations) that they or others may use on future trips. This will allow ever deeper penetration into the hostile Canada-scape. These base stations will become the foundation of the first permanent settlements, whose possibility for cooperation will lead to real towns and even cities!
I know it can sound far-fetched, but remember that forty years ago, in a more optimistic, forward-looking time, the idea of Canadian cities was not simply a science-fiction trope, but was thought a realistic goal. And finally we are approaching the realization of that goal.

I envision a populated Canada by late in this century, or perhaps early in the next. Yes, and once human life has spread to Canada, will there be anywhere we can't go? Canada will become the first step in what will be the longest expansion of human frontiers in history. The coming post-Canada Age will be unlike any human migration in recorded history, and it all starts here and now, with one small step into barren British Columbia or Ontario.

I am probably too old to go, but I dream that my children, or my grand-children, may one day call themselves "Canadians."

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

Sorry, we're already here (none / 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 07:13:32 AM PST
And we'd appreciate if you 'merkins stay on your side of the border, thanks.

Interesting (none / 0) (#6)
by bc on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 07:31:22 AM PST
I have heard that there might be life on Canada. I understand NASA have sent a few probes into that uncharted territory, and in the 70's a controversial expirement seemed to show there might be primitive monocellular life in that hostile region.

Whatever happens, I very much doubt there is any intelligent life there. That would just be absurd, and is best relegated to the more taudry and absurd Science Fiction novels.

♥, bc.

mangeur de hot dog (none / 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 07:40:49 AM PST
in the 70's a controversial expirement seemed to show there might be primitive monocellular life in that hostile region

Oh, jeez. Look, every summer -- that is to say, every July 23rd -- dad escapes from the basement to sun himself on an ice floe. Is that so wrong?

I very much doubt there is any intelligent life there

No correlation has been demonstrated between putting the puck in the net and so called intelligence.

That would just be absurd, and is best relegated to the more taudry and absurd Science Fiction novels.

Send the libertarians first and see if the world doesnt improve in their absence.

1 inch=25.4mm (none / 0) (#9)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 10:59:48 AM PST
I understand NASA have sent a few probes

I haven't seen any probes around here. Probably because your mindless USian scientists still can't convert from English to metric units properly.

Quite true (none / 0) (#11)
by zikzak on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 11:33:05 PM PST
Being the intrepid world traveler that I'm not but wish I were, I have taken the opportunity to venture far from the safe have of USian soil and chosen to explore the vast wasteland that is Canada. What I discovered was a big blip, followed by much gravel and moose, then another moderately sized blip. The second blip sequed into quite a lot of grain, and then there was a tiny little something before the mountains. I have heard rumours of a third and fourth blip, but I did not see them.

Hold on a sec (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by venalcolony on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 07:32:03 AM PST
Dont you think we need more people who whine about their taxes?

The difference between trolling and life is life doesnt have to make sense.

explain to me again (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by buridan on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 05:33:00 AM PST
why this is important and why the world won't take care of itself. while i agree homegrown food is better, it is hardly worth waking the little buggers up in the morning for when they can have sugar o's in various flavors. as for starving kids, I'm pretty sure this won't make much of a difference in the long term. subsistence can only support so high a population density and usually starving kids occurs because that population density has already been surpassed given the available soil

That problem has long been solved... (none / 0) (#10)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 27th, 2001 at 05:31:35 PM PST the great philosopher Jonathan Swift.
Just go to

and read his

"Modest Proposal
For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public"

Just ask yourself, what are the poor children good for after all (no, not that you sick perverts >:->)?

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. This solution would be easily adaptable to the global problem.

If this is a joke it should be funnier. (none / 0) (#12)
by Qrlx on Fri Aug 31st, 2001 at 02:43:02 PM PST
I wholly agree that our society faces significant challenges regarding the need to feed all the mouths, but it's worthwhile to take a step back and look at the cycle of population growth that subsistence agriculture has created in Africa.

In pre-colonial Africa, people fed themselves partially by small scale farming, but more of their food came from hunting and gathering. Societies thrived when there was plenty of food, and conditions such as drought, plague, etc. led to a reduction in the food supply. During these times of famine, the most likely to die off were the elderly and the very young--the two segments of society most susceptible to disease. Additionally, women become infertile when not receiving enough nutrition, so it was impossible to reproduce during a famine, hence it was impossible to bring new hungry mouths into society. This works out well, since you wounld't want new mouths when there's not enough food for the current populous. Once a famine ended, people could eat more, women would regain fertility, and society's numbers would grow again.

Contrast this with post-colonial Africa: Subsistence agriculture, irrigation, and modern farming techniques have destroyed the natural population control mechanism of African society. With massive farming, there is always food, women are always fertile, and the population is ever increasing. There is a never-ending stream of food and medical resources being heaped on Africa from Western civilation's guilty conscience.

The indroduction of Western farming techniques to Africa transformed society from a self-sufficient one to one that is locked in and endless cycle of food imports, overfarming, and exploding population. This about this when planning your post-Corporate Globally Warmed polygamous enclave.


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