The probability of the extinction of a species is greatest when the density is very high or very low

I don't think we know of any society of man whose continuance depends on their own genetic health that can exist below 300 in population, and not even at that number without very rigorous genetic control. We are breeding for extinction in several areas. High density populations often also start to include an enormous range of genetic disasters or mutations.

It is possible to make small changes in a general system to bring about a higher chance of survival of the elements of the system, or high yield within the system. There is an horrific statement called the over-run thesis which says: "Our ability to change the face of the Earth increases at a faster rate than our ability to foresee the consequences of that change."

And there is the life-ethic thesis, which says that living organisms and living systems are not only means but ends. In addition to their value to man, or their instrumental value to human beings, they have an intrinsic worth which we don't allow them. That a tree is something of value in itself, even if it has no value to us, that notion is a pretty foreign sort of thought to us. That it is alive and functioning is what is important.


Resources are something you can feed into a system and increase its productivity, or its yield, or the number of useful storages. But if you continue beyond that point of productivity, then the system itself collapses. And that comes down to the statement that any integrated system can only accept that amount of energy that it can productively use. So you can over-manure anything, over-heat anything; you can over-plow anything. Whether we are talking about money or manure, you can put too much of it in. What then happens is first you start to get less and less increase in yield and then more and more increase in a lethal factor. You can't continue to pour in more of the same thing and get a continued increase in yield.

A friend of mine went to Hong Kong. He ran a sort of energy budget on the city, paying a lot of attention to agriculture. He told me that the older Chinese agriculture (weeding by hand) produced, under very intensive conditions, using natural manures, about three times as much energy as it consumed. Then they modernized, utilizing small tractors, artificial fertilizer, and weeded by little hot jet flames. I think he said that they put 800% more energy in and got a 15% increase in yield. And then as they continued to pour in more energy, the yield decreased. By now they are into the same kick that we have. They only get 4% to 6% of that energy out again.

So agriculture went from an energy productive to an energy consuming system, just as the sea has gone from being oxygen producing to oxygen consuming, all because we are putting too much nutrient into it. You can do it to a pond very quickly and to a nation or a continent more slowly.

Then there are categories of resources that are of a totally different sort. There are resources which are unaffected by use. You can look at a beautiful view all day and it really doesn't affect the view. Information is such a resource. [But information is preserved by use. -DH]

There is another category of things that is interesting in that they increase if you use them. The more you use them, the more that they increase. Some forms of browse fall into that category. Some categories of animals and plants increase each other by interaction, and some other categories of resource also do that. And some resources, particularly quick turnover resources, simply decrease if you don't use them. Annual grass is a good example. If not used, the amount of annual grass in the system decreases. To some extent, so does firewood in a fire-prone situation. It accumulates as a fuel for wildfire when all of it is consumed at once.

But most resources lie in the category of resources that need to be managed to maintain them. They are those which decrease if used. We will call them finite resources.

There is still another category made up of resources that, if you use them, decrease everything else. We have a good example of that in uranium or plutonium. Plutonium in use tends to lay waste to other resources and some of those uses are horrific. Things like dioxins, if used as a resource, start to decrease the general resource.

So resources have a sort of hierarchy of management and a hierarchy of being beneficial or not beneficial. Most of the things that make us happy either are very manageable or there are plenty of them. There a few things which we think we need, but which make us miserable.

I think we can pollute with time, and I expect that we can, also, with diversity. Just by putting a lot of things together, we might reach the stage where we pollute the system simply with diversity.

Petrol (gasoline) is a resource which has created disorder in Western society. I can't think when someone last productively used a gallon of gasoline. Nearly all of it is used non-productively. I used a pint or two once to destroy a nest of bull ants to which I am allergic. As far as I was concerned, that was productive. I also do not know of a case in tractor economy where a machine produces more energy than it uses. You have to take the oil out of the ground, you have to refine it, you have to ship it. You argue that petrol fueled the jet upon which I traveled when I came over here. Right. But I came over here just so that you wouldn't have to go over there. It is true that petrol has some present uses - what I call restitutional uses. But generally speaking, the use of gasoline has resulted in terrible disorder. It reaches right into the social structure.

Chaos is really the opposite of harmony. It is conflicting competition and individualism. When everything is in chaos, if there are two or three of you going in one direction, you have to win, hands down, for everything else is really falling to pieces. So maybe we will win; maybe we are seizing an historic opportunity.

When we design, I keep coming back to what we do. We have a two-fold job: to recommend only the energies that are productive, energies that are not harmful, and to attempt to build harmony into functional organization, to pickup the pieces and make harmonious order.

We should not confuse order and tidiness. Tidiness is something that happens when you have frontal brain damage. You get very tidy. Tidiness is symptomatic of brain damage. Creativity, on the other hand, is symptomatic of a fairly whole brain, and is usually a disordered affair. The tolerance for disorder is one of the very few healthy signs in life. If you can tolerate disorder, you are probably healthy. Creativity is seldom tidy.

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