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October 23, 2008

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Chad Love: On Hunting and Apocalypse

While perusing the energy website The Oil Drum recently, this story caught my eye.

It is a lengthy and at times dry read, but a fascinating one nonetheless, especially for those of us who believe the true natural state of man is found in the hunt. The gist of the post, written by a Canadian soil scientist, is that the Earth's human population has basically been in overshoot mode ever since early civilizations put down their bows, atlatls and spears in favor of hoes and plows.

The bulk of human history has been that of a culture of hunter gathers or foragers. They did not plant crops or modify ecosystem dynamics in any significant manner as they were passively dependent on what the local environment had to offer. They did however domesticate dogs as early as 100,000 BCE (Vila et al. 1997); these animals were useful as hunting aids, guardians, and occasionally as food during times of scarcity. Hunter gatherers maintained social organization and interdependence, and prevented the loss of food to spoilage by sharing the harvest among community members. These people lived in harmony with their supporting ecosystems and their ability to unsustainably stress and damage their environment was limited by the fact that if their numbers exceeded the carrying capacity of the complex, self-managing, species diverse, resilient terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems from which they gained their sustenance, then hunger and lower fertility exercised negative feedback controls on further expansion.

So take that, all you tofu-eatin' herbivores!  We're the ones who lived in harmony with nature, at least until those dirty farmers came along.

Diamond (1997) suggests that the development of plant cultivation agriculture was a ‘trap’ that precipitated massive changes in the way we feed ourselves and in the social organization that is a natural product of land ownership and control of stored foodstuffs. The thinking with regard to this ‘trap’ is that, as populations rise to utilize the increased food supplied by cultivation agriculture, it is very difficult to revert to less productive food producing systems without incurring hardship and starvation.

The egalitarian food-sharing social organization systems of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists and shifting agriculturists, based on kinship, gave way to the class stratification of societies that rely on intensive cultivation agriculture. The stratum of society that controls the means of food production, and the land required for it, develops a hierarchy of property owners and leaders who are rich enough to thrive during periods of severe food shortages, while the less powerful, who are employed by them, suffer famine much more directly.

Eventually this social stratification and evolution of complex labor division proceeds to the point where merchants, craftsmen, military, clergy, bureaucrats, politicians and royalty occupy urban areas where food from the countryside is used, but not produced. A rich and politically powerful stratum develops absolute property rights that are accumulated as wealth and transferred to its descendants; this stratum, often doing very little labor, becomes more numerous and difficult to support as the ratio of elites to producers increases (Costanza et al 2005).

So not only did farming permanently alter the environment, it gave us bureacrats, too. Thanks a lot, farmers. No wonder most modern hunters have an innate distrust of "The Man." We can't help it, it's in our DNA.

But don't rush down to the local Starbucks and start heckling the soy latte drinkers just yet, because there's one wee little problem: It doesn't matter because we're all doomed, anyway.

Humanity has probably been in overshoot of the Earth's carrying capacity since it abandoned hunter gathering in favor of crop cultivation (~ 8,000 BCE) and it has been running up its ecological debt since that time.

Translation: There are too many damn people and quite frankly, a lot of you folks are going to have to die. But don't be gloomy, because once most of you have died things will be a lot easier for the rest of us.

The attractive aspect of moving toward sustainable co-existence with self-managing ecosystems is that the hit-and-miss process of evolution has already established how to make them work. Our responsibility (after our numbers have fallen to sustainable levels) will be to learn to live within the regeneration capacity of these restored ecosystems. The penalty for exceeding their regeneration capacity will be hunger and privation, as it was for our hunter gatherer, forager and pastoral ancestors.

So should we start stockpiling ammo now or learn how to whittle a boomerang?



Did someone say apocalypse?


(credit to Gary Larson, 1986)


Years ago George Carlin talked about the earth and man's role on it.

He figured when Mother Earth is tired of us she'll just puke us off and that will be that.

I figure he was right on.


I figure God will take care of us. But we gotta be good stewards for our part.

Mike Diehl

Let's keep a couple things in mind.

1. No hunter gatherer society was ever "egalitarian." They all had hierarchies of one kind or another, and those hierarchies included inherited status.

2. Few hunter-gatherers lived much beyond 30-35 years if age for most of human prehistory.

3. There is little merit to the idea of hunter-gatherers as the consummate "in balance with nature" foragers. Instead, they rather routinely depleted much-needed food resources, wasted plenty of game (just read about some of the western US prehistoric bison kills and look at the piles of discarded, unused animals), messed up the landscape (may have cause the extinction of multiple general of late Pleistocene large animals) and generally did all the same things that modern agriculturists do.

4. ALL of them modified ecosystem dynamics, often deliberately through the use of deliberate burning, sometimes unintentionally by eliminating competitive predators and also over-hunting prey.

The difference is that they did it on a much smaller scale.


My consern is what is happening now, With the re-listing of wolves, the increase in brown bears, the anti's will argue that hunting is no longer needed, that "nature will keep the balance" and ammo prices will go through the roof. We will then be like England, where they are debating banning pointed knives!


Throughout history the hunters brought home the food and the non-hunters cleaned and cooked it and eventually did the dishes. The hunters decided who ate first. Overtime, these unskilled hunters evolved into liberals- whose complete focus became the equal distribution what the hunters bring home- or as their messiah says "spreading around the wealth". When the ratio of huntes to parsites gets too far out of whack we will have a war or famine and return to the old days and if the liberals get their way on gun control we will again be hunting with spears. donkeyslap.com

Mr. Creosote

I thought a "parsite" was someone who reads too much into what other people say...

Elmer Fudd

>after our numbers have fallen to sustainable levels

NOPE! It'll be Planet of the Apes!

Dr. Ralph

Yeah, the Earth is in definite need of a plague... I was hoping maybe HIV/AIDS would do the trick but it looks more like Nuclear Holocaust to me now. The resulting dust, soot and blanketing of the atmosphere will block out the sun and in another million years some future race will wonder what caused the resulting ice age.

Dr. Ralph

Chad I'm not chastising you but maybe your intellectualism has overtaken your ability to communicate with the common man. I know it is impressive to the editors but I've seen too many people scratch their heads after speeches that created an epiphany in my mind and they wonder out loud "What the hell was he talking about?" I'm not saying dumb it down as that is the worst thing one could do but perhaps use more words that are readily understood by the masses... that is the key, to pass on information that will inflame and ignite a fire in the hearts of men who believe in this country.

You're writings in my opinion are second to only one on this site and I don't think I need to tell you what we all know. Add a little humor, sarcasm, and a bad attitude and you may be able to pay your bills and live in the big apple. Don't mind the maggots.

Probably your best bet is to ignore any and all comments by yours truly, but I just can't resist and my wife has started a small skirmish and so my best bet is to displace anger. You just happen to be handy...

Chad Love

Duly noted, Ralph, but I try so hard to sound smart because it's not my natural state.
Now remember, the italics aren't mine, they're pull quotes from the story I linked to. I wouldn't know how to use words like "stratification"...

Actually what I really need is to proofread a little more carefully. I just noticed I misspelled "bureaucrat" which is pretty ironic for a guy who majored in public administration and wrote approximately 147 class papers containing the word "bureaucrat."


GOD gave us this earth and we have to be good stewards of it. If there was no hunters then we would be over run with animals, if there was no farmers then we would starve. we have to use the knowledge God has given us, to take care of what God has given us.


GOD gave us this earth and we have to be good stewards of it. If there was no hunters then we would be over run with animals, if there was no farmers then we would starve. we have to use the knowledge God has given us, to take care of what God has given us.


GOD gave us this earth and we have to be good stewards of it. If there was no hunters then we would be over run with animals, if there was no farmers then we would starve. we have to use the knowledge God has given us, to take care of what God has given us.


GOD gave us this earth and we have to be good stewards of it. If there was no hunters then we would be over run with animals, if there was no farmers then we would starve. we have to use the knowledge God has given us, to take care of what God has given us.


Whoa, a quadruple post!
Atta boy Mike! The early plains indians were known for stampeding herds of bison off of a cliff. So much for early man's stewardship! Much of the carcasses were wasted as more bison were killed by the above method than were needed or could be consumed.

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