Bare Bones Biology 260 – Two Conundrums

Last week blog featured Steven’s editorial, so you already know, he is seriously concerned about food, about our growing population, and about human welfare. And he is especially concerned about the balance among those three parameters. The relationships among food, population and human welfare are puzzling, confusing and mysterious, which is exactly the definition of a conundrum. Here are two conundrums for you to find the answers.


Here is the Steven’s question: “Most people can see that more food equals more people, like it does with all of nature.   Most people can also see the most obvious and most undeniable fact that no food equals no people. That one is a slam dunk. Is there anyone who would argue with the statement, “No food equals no people. Period. End of story. If so, let’s hear it. No.

“Now that leaves us with a remaining statement. “Less food equals less people.” Almost everyone I know says that claim cannot be admitted BECAUSE people will begin starving. Even those who see how less food equals less people dare not acknowledge such a thing because they believe to a certainty that people will starve. The question for me and for all of us is this. IF less food equal less people, will limiting INCREASE ONLY in ( NOT stopping) total food production CAUSE people to starve? Yea or Nay? THAT IS THE QUESTION. Comments from one and all are welcome.”


ASC_1642sThat’s the end of Steve’s conundrum. Now here is mine:


Consider the cow. She is a beautiful creature: peaceful, humane, friendly and she has an admirable social system. For just one example, cows usually have one baby every year. Cows in a herd will organize themselves every morning in such a way that one female stays behind in a safe place with all the babies, each belonging to a different mother, while all the mothers and fathers go out to eat. You can see this yourself in nearly any pasture as you drive through Texas. The next morning, someone else stays with all the babies. The eating cows watch for danger and will rush back to help if necessary. (I should tell you, in Texas, the word cows may refer only to females, or to males and females). The babies nurse their own mothers in the mornings and evenings and in the meantime they sleep or practice eating grass.


Now consider what will happen if we put a few cows of both sexes on one thousand acres of lush pastureland, fence them in, make sure there is plenty of water, kill off the predators, and go away for a few years. When we come back, there will be a lot more cows, right? Well, it depends how many years we are gone.


The normal cycle of overpopulation in all species including all mammals, which includes us – in rapid growth of population until the food is gone, then rapid die-off to below the carrying capacity of the environment. After which the population may or may not recover. (ref – overshoot)


First there are many babies, next there are very many cows and the fighting begins because crowding and competition upsets their social systems. When the population doubles that one last time, and all the grass is completely gone before the next following year, then most or all of the cows, bulls and calves die. Not only have they all starved this year, but also they have nearly destroyed the pastureland and the soil in their voracious need. It will be very slow coming back, if ever it can.


Now the question is: What is to blame for all this suffering?

This is Bare Bones Biology a production of and KEOS FM, 89.1, in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:


“If you wnt to get rid of painful effects, you need to get rid of their causes.”

His Holiness The Dalai Lama




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: