Plinia or Myristica?
A triumph of cultivation! Truly a victory not easily achieved. But for the species itself, the future is less bright. A remarkably short shelf life and an interminably long period of growth to maturity make such cultivars virtually impossible to commercialize. Lacking any virtues for exploitation, it will eventually be marginalized and removed. As a native of Brazil, it will undoubtedly be harvested for its hardwood and replaced with soy, corn, or palm plantations. As Brazil industrializes, this fate is almost an inevitability. Perhaps it will survive in the margins, an inhabitant of the occasional garden or neglected lot. It is harsh, but it is the way of things.
You continue to ignore exponentiating technology, which has addressed and will continue to address these paranoid distopian fears.
Nyet nyet nyet…Always are the projectionists failing to factor-in the reversive pressures of capital exploitation. Growth and exploitation only occur where there is profit to be had. Once removed from the equation, the system self-corrects and reverts to a new mean. In the case of fisheries (or fields of oil or forest or anything of the kind), the loss of productivity leads to a corresponding loss in profit. One either seeks new grounds or new species for exploitation, or the venture folds and collapses upon itself. In short, the fleets find other prey to exploit or they enter receivership, discharge their assets, and re-invest the capital in alternate and hopefully more profitable adventures. Da, this corrective pressure might not fully manifest until a resource is commercially exhausted, but exhaustion is not extinction; it is the natural marginalization of a non-productive asset.
As relative costs increase and efficiencies diminish, the motivation for change accelerates. The oceans might be stripped of some, but they will not be bare. Jellyfish and lobster are already exploiting this new environment, and humanity has begun investing less in its fishing fleets and more in aquaculture. Vast, easily exploitable farms of salmon, shrimp, and even tuna are spreading ever further into the aquatic world, replacing the vagaries of the wild with the conformities of mass production and high-efficiency engineering. Da – there are distinct disadvantages to the imposition of a monocultural system, and pollution from intensive farming operations is an issue. But these costs are insufficient to dissuade capital investment when the proletariat masses are eager to pay $6.99 a pound for salmon steaks. Weakness and inefficiency do not walk hand-in-hand. They are distinct. And one can manage weakness so long as the relative cost makes it profitable to do so. Such has been the experience of the humble banana.
As for the supposed overpopulation of humanity…eh. These same rules apply, either to the broad stage of the world or in the small theater-house of a small nation. The cost of growth will increase. The cost of living will increase. And both will act as a restraint, reining in population and development and preventing it from exceeding the limits of its capacity as the profitability drawn from exploitation decreases. But it is important to note that these limits can be hard to judge; history has proven that life can sustain itself on remarkably little, often exceeding the bounds of human supposition. What seems completed or destroyed in our eyes can, in fact, yield unimagined bounties. Witness the supposedly dead and depleted forgotten oil fields of Texas, Pennsylvania, and portions of America, all now reinvigorated as never before by the hand of new technology. You will still have troubles and limitations, Da – but even seemingly “barren” lands can provide wealth, ripe for exploitation. And where there is profit to be had, you will find others attempting to harness it, in numbers that may surprise you.
The greater point is that we have far less control that we’d prefer to imagine. Humility has never been a strong point for humanity, but that arrogance and optimism leads people forward where otherwise they might never have bothered to tread. And while growth might be exponential, or double exponential, or even TRIPLE QUADRUPLE dog-dare exponential, it can only grow if the resources are there to support it. And when those resources begin to deplete, costs rise, the allure is gone, and growth runs to flat or reverses. What you have underestimated is the capacity of existing resources to supply what seems to be an insurmountable demand. So what if land is destroyed or made barren in large swaths? Find an inch of soil in China that does not qualify for superfund status if you can. Your habits and plans for the future will change if apples, corn, and bread triple in price. Or quadruple. Or triple quadruplely jump in price. And this will be why the masses turn to the next frankenberry or meaty marvel from the laboratory’s new 3-D protein printer.
And exploiting the present at the cost of the future is actually a strength of capitalism, not a short-sighted weakness. But more on that later. A vodka tonic is calling my name; perhaps, though, I should be in calling it a ‘Molotov Cocktail.’