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ccgwebmaster

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Small group logistics in a collapse context
« on: January 09, 2014, 11:31:21 PM »
I thought I'd try to start a topic for this as it moved so far away from the original topic elsewhere but was an interesting and possibly useful discussion. The posts in question that relate are at:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,687.msg18629.html#msg18629

A discussion of minimum viable population in the context of humans, historic examples, possible strategies to mitigate problems and scope for small groups to continue to survive even in a world radically changed by climate change (post collapse). A few snippets to seed the topic:

Quote
MVP and extinction[edit]
There is a marked trend for insularity, surviving genetic bottlenecks and r-strategy to allow far lower MVPs than average. Conversely, taxa easily affected by inbreeding depression – having high MVPs – are often decidedly K-strategists, with low population densities while occurring over a wide range. An MVP of 500 to 1,000 has often been given as an average for terrestrial vertebrates when inbreeding or genetic variability is ignored.[3][4] When inbreeding effects are included, estimates of MVP for many species are in the thousands. Based on a meta-analysis of reported values in the literature for many species, Traill et al. reported a median MVP of 4,169 individuals.[5]

So 4000 or so I guess.  But the big caveat to me in this number is that this population has to be collocated so that they can breed properly.  It can't be scattered across the globe and then each little group would inbreed and die out.  So in practical terms if you have a group somewhere which meets the 4000 number then there are going to be lots of others scattered around the world as well.  So it really means a few hundred thousand probably.

While noting the 4000 figure quoted has multiple caveats reducing relevance specifically to humans.

An example quoted for small groups that had longevity:

The Khoisan, the last significant surviving culture of hunter gatherer groups can shed light on this question. They now occupy only the deserts of southwest Africa but previously populated all  of Africa south of the Congo. They were pushed into the marginal areas of desert by the expansion of Bantu past the rain forests of the Congo.

While the individual groups frequently don't number more than 40 individuals, their nomadic lifestyles allow separate groups to gather frequently and individuals (young women most often) migrating to other groups was common practice. It serves to strengthen both groups as they could mitigate the impacts of mortality on each group. Anthropologists also argue that it strengthened the ties between individual groups, fostering harmony and anchoring the larger culture.

I think you are probably right that if we could preselect our gene pool and then rigorously manage the mating sequence it would not require the 4000 individuals.  But we might be making assumptions here that the scientists who are experts in this have already taken into account. 

Not according to the source being quoted - the 4000 figure was an average for many species and with certain caveats.

But executing all of that requires common sense, a good knowledge of genetics and breeding, and the ability to actually enforce the proper selections of mates.  What is the likelihood of any of that?

We already do quite a bit of it - note the taboos culturally against and the legal provision for punishing incest?

BTW as a former dog breeder I can assure you that ALL purebred dog breeds are just chock full of genetic problems and disorders.  Most breeders cull the pups to eliminate the obvious defectives, later on as the dogs develop other problems become evident and a further culling process occurs.  And even following all of that it is not uncommon for dogs which the breeders thought were perfect and that they are using to further the breeding lines turn out to have significant issues and they have to be removed from the breeding stock.   Pure bred dogs have amazing specific abilities we have managed to select for, but they are a genetic mess. 

And there is the additional issue of the complexity of the human brain as compared to the other species.  I would expect inbreeding to manifest many problems in this area that would not occur with a species like dogs.

I suspect people have in the past culled newly born people - in fact - it still happens today.

That isn't to say it's desirable but in any event the breeding opportunities of people with inbreeding issues would likely be significantly reduced compared to dogs.

What I'm wondering is what sort of strategies would work well to mitigate the scope for inbreeding in a small group? Obviously it might not be likely for a society to be able to make optimal mate selections for all pairings as human nature doesn't really conform to that - but to apply a basic set of rules should be well within human capability.

Suppose the male and female names were both passed onto offspring (so both the maternal and paternal lines were represented via the family name) and it was prohibited for mate pairings to occur where either name was the same in the other party? What degree of inbreeding protection would that provide?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2014, 12:01:51 AM by ccgwebmaster »

wili

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 11:49:31 PM »
I come from a longish line of country doctors, and stories get passed down. I am told that is was just assumed that if a doctor delivered a deformed baby, he would dispose of it quietly and tell the parents that it died in childbirth. Much of the outrage over abortion is, I believe, the fact that people had no idea just how widespread infanticide of various sorts is and has been throughout history. Most of these families would not have had the resources to raise a child who could never be of any help on the farm. We have payment ledgers, and most of the time my great-grandfather was paid in milk, eggs or chickens.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2014, 12:12:14 AM »
I come from a longish line of country doctors, and stories get passed down. I am told that is was just assumed that if a doctor delivered a deformed baby, he would dispose of it quietly and tell the parents that it died in childbirth. Much of the outrage over abortion is, I believe, the fact that people had no idea just how widespread infanticide of various sorts is and has been throughout history. Most of these families would not have had the resources to raise a child who could never be of any help on the farm. We have payment ledgers, and most of the time my great-grandfather was paid in milk, eggs or chickens.

Like the bit about milk, eggs or chickens.  :D

It is a strange dichotomy that people today in developed nations will strive officiously to prolong human life at any cost, even when the person is in great pain and hooked up to numerous machines in a cold uncaring hospital environment and can have no likely future prospects save more of the same. Yet the same people can send a pet in pain to the vet to be quickly and painlessly put to sleep. We put animals out of their misery and torture each other.

It is a cruel statement and not one that will play well with people from said developed nations, but I can see the logic to what you describe. In a small group that is struggling on the edge of existence - how can they carry a burden that cannot contribute? While I think it highly desirable to try to find a role for everyone as an ideal - feeble, old, whatever their limitations may be - clearly there are limits to the scope for that. The prospects for the society as a whole are better if those limits are not pushed far enough to weaken the whole.

Furthermore there is another group of people to whom I think this applies that may not immediately occur to most people. Today when people break a law, they are usually imprisoned and looked after (to some extent) in an environment in which they are not remotely productive and at great cost to society. In a small society struggling on the edges of existence, one can have no such luxuries. While one hopes that the rate of crimes would be much less with a small and highly cohesive group where everyone knows everyone else - punishment would need to be brutal and immediate.

That means corporal or capital punishment and ideally of the sort that makes an example via public spectacle to maximise the utility value of the punishment. Is there any other rational option?

Barbarism - or rational strategies necessary for the survival and future prosperity of such a group?

crandles

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2014, 12:26:41 AM »
What I'm wondering is what sort of strategies would work well to mitigate the scope for inbreeding in a small group?

Is it crazy to imagine small groups of humans managing to maintain a sperm bank of tens of thousands? Is freezing good enough to last for long enough for climate to settle down? Is it feasible to maintain such technology for such small groups as we are discussing?

How about society somehow organising so that it is expected that each woman should, where reasonably possible, attempt to raise children with at least 3 different (sperm donor?) genetic fathers? (Think there was a star trek derivative episode which suggested something like this - perhaps they also had benefit of some gene therepy and perhaps we might develop adequate knowledge before we are reduced to such small groups?)

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2014, 12:45:28 AM »
What I'm wondering is what sort of strategies would work well to mitigate the scope for inbreeding in a small group?

Is it crazy to imagine small groups of humans managing to maintain a sperm bank of tens of thousands? Is freezing good enough to last for long enough for climate to settle down? Is it feasible to maintain such technology for such small groups as we are discussing?

I actually don't think that's an especially crazy idea, certainly no moreso than the Svalbard seed vault that's already constructed to store food crop genetics against catastrophe. While I don't see that one could maintain such technology indefinitely, I don't see why it would be impossible to do it for decades (possibly much longer if enough engineering effort and logistical support went into it) - and it's certainly a compact and low maintenance way of keeping thousands of genetic variations around.

You'd need to consider freezing eggs or embryos to represent female diversity though (or very heavily skew your original population and seriously shorten the timescale of the ambitions to reflect their reproductive window, which would greatly dilute the value).

A quick search doesn't suggest there are definite upper time limits to the viability of sperm, eggs or embryos when frozen.

How about society somehow organising so that it is expected that each woman should, where reasonably possible, attempt to raise children with at least 3 different (sperm donor?) genetic fathers? (Think there was a star trek derivative episode which suggested something like this - perhaps they also had benefit of some gene therepy and perhaps we might develop adequate knowledge before we are reduced to such small groups?)

I think you touch on the only obvious limiting factor to the idea here. The number of women of reproductive age within the group would be a key limit to the amount of genetic diversity you could retrieve from the archive (bearing in mind gestation time and resource requirements to raise offspring to the point of being productive members of the society), particularly once combined with the limit of how long you could operate the technology supporting the archive.

Nonetheless it's an interesting idea, full marks for thinking outside the box.  :)

JimD

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2014, 03:07:08 AM »
ccg

Quote
That means corporal or capital punishment and ideally of the sort that makes an example via public spectacle to maximise the utility value of the punishment. Is there any other rational option?

I believe in many cultures what they resorted to was even worse by their standards.  Banishment.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2014, 03:49:39 AM »
I believe in many cultures what they resorted to was even worse by their standards.  Banishment.

There's a bit about it here.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/banishment

I note that they add another drawback to the list I'd already mentally assembled (risk that the banished individual commits the same crimes in another place).

I'd stopped at the risks to the society attempting to banish the individual that the individual then potentially becomes an enemy. In the smallest scale societies one rogue individual could wreak tremendous damage acting out of malice (this risk is of course ever present regardless, purely a question of degree).

I wonder how big a society can get before crime starts to become a real problem?

wili

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2014, 04:37:15 AM »
Quote
While one hopes that the rate of crimes would be much less with a small and highly cohesive group where everyone knows everyone else - punishment would need to be brutal and immediate.

IIRC, the main form of violence in small-scale societies is the almost constant warfare. But that does not hold equally for all examples. Areas that are heavily committed to talk things out, even if that literally takes many days, see generally much less inter-group violence.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 07:41:02 PM »
In terms of MVP it's worth looking at the strategies of island populations. The pacific south sea islanders and the arawaks [iirc] who populated the caribean becoming the caribs both developed societies with complete sexual license, except for very close certain relatives, the very word taboo comes from this practice. Some of these islands were initially populated by only one or two boats, and maintaining fertility and viability demanded a radical approach to procreation, and explains why they were so welcoming to visitors.

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 05:43:56 PM »
My daughter got  back to me on this issue (she is a DNA expert) and had a few additional items for us to contemplate beyond the stuff we have already found.

If you look at sub-populations which have undergone this type of dramatic population reductions; for example the Navajo Native-Americans who were virtually exterminated you see how the numbers on the Wiki page are borne out.  The Navajo were reduced to about 2000 adults of breeding age in the late 1800's.  To this day their population is plagued with many genetic disorders related to that bottleneck.  And one would note that a lot of outside genetic material would have been introduced into the population by the white and Hispanic populations in the area.  So for a random selection the 4000 number is probably pretty accurate.

She also mentioned that the quality of the genetics of the small population you start with would make a very big difference. 

One could obviously get Orwellian about something like this and run a program to select a ideal group based upon the best genetics.  But, in practice, I imagine a lot of powerful people would get to do most of the choosing and that would guarantee too many folks related to each other and that would lower the quality of the gene pool.

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 05:58:45 PM »
One could obviously get Orwellian about something like this and run a program to select a ideal group based upon the best genetics.

That's probably a contradiction. Only a huge gen pool is future proof. Whatever criteria one chooses to select individuals is based on past knowledge and the future will have different fit criteria. Don't promote the idea one could win by separating bad from good gens or remove former from the pool. Only diversification wins.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:32:58 PM by Neven »

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 06:25:20 PM »
But, in practice, I imagine a lot of powerful people would get to do most of the choosing and that would guarantee too many folks related to each other and that would lower the quality of the gene pool.

That really depends whose running the show. I could see it being an issue in many cases but it isn't a given - not if the person selecting the population understands the importance of genetic diversity and the long term outlook. The main problem as I see it is that human nature is generally to favour ones own tribe or group (even within a tribe). Small to tiny societies predicated on that age old bias would pay the price later though in a world consisting of tiny remnants. For what it's worth I suspect most people with wealth and power would tend to fall into various traps in planning and for anyone used to a comfortable existence, I suspect the future is virtually impossible to contemplate.

So suppose you selected the initial population with two simple constraints:
  • no obvious physical or mental disabilities
  • maximum genetic diversity

How small could you potentially push the number, assuming you could select from most nations and regions?

I would think an awful lot lower than 2000-4000? Wouldn't high initial diversity tend to fill in the gaps in the spectrum over time? Would there be a good enough chance enough good genetics would exist to see the population through while diversity rebounded (even if there was a period of issues and a higher mortality rate in that period)

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 07:06:40 PM »
no obvious physical or mental disabilities

That poor girl born blind with three arms might actually be completely immune against cancer or proofs the Riemann hypothesis‎ at the age of 12. I cringe when people talk about artificial de-population and do not honour and respect each and any individual. That path is a no-go and exploring options only lowers the barrier.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:33:16 PM by Neven »

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 07:26:52 PM »
no obvious physical or mental disabilities

That poor girl born blind with three arms might actually be completely immune against cancer or proofs the Riemann hypothesis‎ at the age of 12. I cringe when people talk about artificial de-population and do not honour and respect each and any individual. That path is a no-go and exploring options only lowers the barrier.

If you're selecting a very limited number of people to attempt to survive in a collapsed world you simply wouldn't have the capability to keep someone like that alive. You would no more select such a person than a modern day army would select them as a paratrooper. This thread isn't intended to be a de-population thread (except inasmuch as it is implied that there would have been a catastrophic loss of population in the context of collapse) - rather it's meant to be about the logistics of small groups trying to survive post collapse.

That's a very different and far more brutal world than most anyone able to participate in the topic can comprehend. While I agree intellectually with the ideals you espouse - to look after all members - and to value human life, when you're talking bottom line survival in a primitive world things get a lot more ethically complicated.

If we consider an example from the current day - an example that the affluent nations consisting of many members espousing the value of human life could actually prevent:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14084670

Women undertaking such journeys are abandoning their weakest children to die alone in the desert.

Quote
One of them said how she left her sick child on the road because he was too weak to make the journey to Kenya.

Burdened by other small children, she left him in the desert.

"His eyes still haunt me to this day," she told us.

That isn't a decision made by a stranger - it is a decision made by a mother. It's a logical enough decision - to abandon one or more children so the rest might have a chance to make it - but it's an almost unimaginably brutal one. I would imagine the eyes of her child will haunt her to the day she dies.

It's one of the strange paradoxes of western societies - not only do many members have these professed hang ups about the value of life and importance to preserve it etc (if I had a dollar/pound/currency unit for the number of times I've heard people say they can eat supermarket chicken but they couldn't bring themselves to kill one...) - but just as many members can willingly spend far more of their time and money to look after a dog than a human. All the while these societies through their fossil fuel powered infrastructure and consumption based ideology are actively pursuing a lifestyle that is killing millions and may well kill billions (which is the basis for this thread - how to deal with the consequences rather than how to bring them about).

Anyway, mini rant about western societies aside I would like to emphasise this thread isn't about de-population beyond the assumption that collapse and the ravages of the four horsemen will bring it about regardless of our intentions.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:35:52 PM by Neven »

TerryM

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 09:45:29 PM »
Have any studies been made of the Easter Island populace? IIRC they suffered a population crash then survived for some time before European sailors added their DNA.
Terry

johnm33

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2014, 10:21:41 PM »
Easter Islanders had total sexual license, that doesn't mean people didn't have long term familial relationships but they were generally open. In such situations women, who are hard wired to prefer sexual partners with an immune system different [ and the more different the better] from there own, tend to maintain optimum diversity. Under serfdom the English were geographically tied and rarely moved, to sustain viable families they had spring festivals where complete sexual license was the norm. Thus women of breeding age who remained barren had an acceptable opportunity to conceive.
 

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2014, 12:15:38 AM »
ccgwebmaster, when you say the collapse is unavoidable and therefore this topic worth to discuss, then the barbarism has already started *now*. So, what would you say if the youth of this world consequently decides to get rid of everybody older than let's say 50. Which is globally and economically speaking far more rational and cheaper than getting rid of childs desperately needed to solve the problems in your unavoidable near future.

That's your logic applied, only more efficiently and goal oriented. Actually, it would also be more human because the elder people had a little time to finish their stuff and could choose how they like to get killed. And to bring it to the point, why should innocent children suffer instead of the ones who had brought all that misery and throw the global party wrecking the planet? Would you support kids in the street loudly demanding: 'Grey, unproductive and emitting CO2? Get rid of our planet'?

Ultimately and surprisingly that approach would probably avoid that collapse and allow an orderly transformation to a better future. A win-win for everyone, isn't it?

Be careful what you ask for and watch 'Soylent Green' the movie - it's on youtube.

I went to this extent, to give you the same feeling I had reading your selection criteria. I hope, I succeeded.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:33:30 PM by Neven »

TerryM

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2014, 02:44:08 AM »
John
The Inuit were also known for extremely open marriages, but what I was wondering about was the Easter Islanders during the long period between their isolation and their discovery by Europeans when they had bred within a very limited gene pool. Unlike most small groups who held multi-group festivals where DNA mixed freely the Easter Islanders had no visitors for a large number of generations IIRC.


A***
That's exactly the kind of rational solution that I as an oldster fear. Realistically when things go south I can't imagine the coming generations being terribly grateful for the inheritance we're leaving.
Terry

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2014, 07:25:42 AM »
ccgwebmaster, when you say the collapse is unavoidable and therefore this topic worth to discuss, then the barbarism has already started *now*. So, what would you say if the youth of this world consequently decides to get rid of everybody older than let's say 50. Which is globally and economically speaking far more rational and cheaper than getting rid of childs desperately needed to solve the problems in your unavoidable near future.

50 is far enough away for me that is a hope more than an expectation, particularly if collapse should happen relatively quickly. Maybe 30?

As for barbarism - it never stopped! Therefore it cannot make sense to talk about it starting, except in the very limited context of a comfortable western existence (where it's nicely pushed away behind the TV screen and swept behind the stack of shiny smart phones). Even just within western societies there can be plenty of it around inflicted upon those with a less comfortable existence. It may not be as physical and obvious as in a simpler social structure where might drives right instead of money - but it is there nonetheless.

Anyway - and I feel I need to stress this again - this topic really is not about depopulation strategies. Given the onset of collapse I think famine and violence will do that as usual throughout history. It is more about how one could give small groups the best long term prospects possible, particularly while the climate settled down (could be centuries) and scattered groups took time to reconnect (could be even longer).

If small groups in a collapsed (or collapsing) world should have the chance to expand their membership in such a way as to optimise for genetic diversity and that means they prefer people without obvious physical or mental limitations (and likely also favouring younger members) - that is not at all the same as murdering those whom they did not choose or help.

The billions will die mostly because of the way western nations have conducted themselves (climate change being a key example) and the guilt for the deaths should be placed there rather than on groups struggling to survive in such a situation. It remains the prerogative of groups to determine their membership and the case being made here is that small groups considering genetic diversity would do well to be diverse (but picky) instead of just favouring their own tribe.

We are all already participating in mass murder every minute we sit here consuming fossil fuels.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:36:11 PM by Neven »

JackTaylor

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2014, 02:57:34 PM »
Quote
ccgwebmaster:  Reply #18;
"It remains the prerogative of groups to determine their membership and the case being made here is that small groups considering genetic diversity would do well to be diverse (but picky) instead of just favouring their own tribe"
A very logical summation.  However, it's about the like use of Fossil Fuels, will people give up what is familiar and similar barring catastrophic events ?
IMHO not likely.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2014, 03:56:22 PM »
I haven't dug up the paper yet hinted at in this link but it suggests the minimum number to avoid inbreeding to extinction could actually be rather low - perhaps as few as 50 individuals - but 500 mentioned as necessary to maintain evolutionary potential.

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/154633/

Quote
Following Frankham et al., estimates of the population numbers required to overcome these effects (known as the effective population, Ne) are 50 to avoid inbreeding depression, 500-5000 to retain evolutionary potential, and 12 to 1000 to avoid the accumulation of deleterious mutations. Franklin proposed the 50/500 rule used by conservation practitioners, whereby an Ne of 50 is required to prevent an unacceptable rate of inbreeding, while a long-term Ne of 500 is required to ensure overall genetic variability. Given that the average Ne /N ratio is roughly 0.10 these rules of thumb translate to census sizes of 500 to 50,000 individuals.

Now I assume Ne is the number of diverse and reproductive individuals (the effective population). That would mean that to avoid inbreeding from a population of only 50 they would need to be highly selected to both be at the optimum point for reproduction and as diverse as possible (ie Ne = N instead of Ne = N/10).

Not only should it be noted that such a small seed population doesn't have enough genetic versatility to ensure adaptability but it should be noted that inbreeding effects are assumed upon in this figure - it's just stated that the population should not go extinct due to inbreeding depression (ie inbreeding itself will not be a cause of extinction). That is a very different thing from there being no inbreeding effects.

However, it's a lot easier in this context to understand how early humans made it with many small groups - total population sufficient to keep evolutionary options open - group size sufficient to avoid extinction from inbreeding effects.

I haven't yet determined if 50 is a floor figure that assumes on intensively managed breeding or if it works with unmanaged breeding too (not that mate choices would be extensive in such a small population). Determining that might further illuminate what the smallest viable group would be (I can't see why it wouldn't be valid to count global population even where individuals had no contact for the evolutionarily viable higher value).

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2014, 04:03:42 PM »
ccgwebmaster, you don't get it, right? Barbarism starts the moment I'm forced to reason about whether I sacrifice my first born or my last born. So could you please set up a poll here, to help me out of this? It would be helpful if you answer that question first, supposed you have kids.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:33:52 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2014, 04:18:04 PM »
ccgwebmaster, you don't get it, right? Barbarism starts the moment I'm forced to reason about whether I sacrifice my first born or my last born. So could you please set up a poll here, to help me out of this? It would be helpful if you answer that question first, supposed you have kids.

No I don't get it. That's exactly the decision the mother referred to in the news story I linked to (#13) before had to make - to sacrifice one or more children while walking across the desert fleeing famine. Just because barbarism hasn't started for you personally doesn't mean it isn't there for others, even today in a world with the theoretical capability to avoid such things. We live in a barbaric world.

As for me I can't say I'd do any differently from those people walking across the desert, were I in their shoes. You could instead let them all die, seem better?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:36:28 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2014, 06:58:40 PM »
anonymous

Let's say it is a given at this point that any and all dramatic population reduction schemes are impossible to implement.  So yours is an academic question just like the others which have been mentioned.

Could yours be implemented?  Not unless you had the cooperation of the population, especially those over 50 (they poses far too much power and weapons).  But if you did would it work?  It would certainly help. No doubt about it. 

Would it be fairer?  Pretty much.  At least as fair as any other solution.

Since what we are almost certainly going to get in a few decades (my projection) is a general civilizational collapse you can bet that part of what happens in that circumstance will be exactly your solution (what age will you be in 2050 btw?  Over 50?  Will you cooperate?).

« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:36:41 PM by Neven »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2014, 09:26:32 PM »
JimD, you did not get the point, I did not propose anything like that, there was someone developing criteria suitable to support decisions on which individuals should be sacrificed to keep the rest of a group alive. The point was to find out whether he ever thought of becoming himself part of such a kill list or if he really would delegate to someone else the right to choose among humans who dies and who survives.

Is this a thread of game kiddies discussing god mode features of a new xbox shooter? Sorry, if I missed that.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:34:23 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2014, 10:17:53 PM »
JimD, you did not get the point, I did not propose anything like that, there was someone developing criteria suitable to support decisions on which individuals should be sacrificed to keep the rest of a group alive. The point was to find out whether he ever thought of becoming himself part of such a kill list or if he really would delegate to someone else the right to choose among humans who dies and who survives.

Is this a thread of game kiddies discussing god mode features of a new xbox shooter? Sorry, if I missed that.
Anonymous,

I get your point. The discussion smacks of eugenics. The minimum viable population is interesting but much of the rest of the "who lives/dies" moves into territory that we've had world wars over. It is really the stuff of nightmares.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:37:10 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2014, 10:31:36 PM »
Terry my point was that women can already detect, through pheromones, how similar/different a mans immune system is from hers, I'm assuming this is a good analogue for genetic similarity/difference. So provided a group can make the cultural leap there's already a system in place for promoting maximum genetic diversity within any sized group. 
Iirc Inuit for their own reasons valued boys above girls and consequently there was normally an excess of adult males, so I'd suspect that, although open marraige may have served to increase diversity, it was more a strategy to ensure max cooperation when hunting.

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2014, 12:57:58 AM »
I get your point. The discussion smacks of eugenics. The minimum viable population is interesting but much of the rest of the "who lives/dies" moves into territory that we've had world wars over. It is really the stuff of nightmares.

But I am being quite clear - I'm not talking about killing anyone.

If it's just as bad to let someone die by not helping them - then every single one of us is just as guilty of letting people die already (above and beyond our direct contribution to deaths directly caused as a result of the lifestyle we participate in, which in my view is a serious point too - the deaths we already individually contributed to).

So from my perspective, people are either unable to differentiate the nuances here - or are guilty of hypocrisy by accusing me of thinking about something they are already doing?

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2014, 01:21:41 AM »
So, you have no problem to look someone in the eyes and say: "See Andrew, I'm not going to share my food on this table with you, because you are not worth to survive. And don't blame me, this world is unfair and I didn't make it."?

Boy, I really hope you never end up needing any help from other people.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:34:06 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2014, 03:14:49 AM »
anonymous

I understood just fine where you were coming from.  I was expecting the tone of your last to ccg when I wrote my response.  A discussion makes you uncomfortable so you try and disrupt it.

To me these types of discussions are essential for many people to build their understandings of where we are and where we are going.  As pointed out to you by ccg everyone is already making these kind of decisions you are attacking ccg over.  A passive decision to concentrate on fairness, equitable distribution of resources, various BAU approaches is choosing to just let events run out to the collapse point.  If those are the only criteria that matter to you that I guess is your only choice.  Thus choosing a nightmare for our descendants but maybe not for us (nice).  This is the typical response expected by relying on standard human nature. Or one can try very hard to figure out possible solutions (however painful they might be) which could be implemented by those most responsible for the mess which might lead to much less of a nightmare for the future. 

When ritter says this

Quote
I get your point. The discussion smacks of eugenics. The minimum viable population is interesting but much of the rest of the "who lives/dies" moves into territory that we've had world wars over. It is really the stuff of nightmares.

He is correct of course. But that does not mean the discussion should not happen either.  It 'is' the stuff of nightmares.  But we are looking at probable civilizational destruction and many billions of deaths if that happens.  There will be nothing fair or humane about that.  It will be a nightmare.  Your solution (if that phrase makes you uncomfortable I would point out that you are late to it by decades - my generation came up with it I believe) to reduce it will certainly be part of the solution should we arrive at those days having taken no actions to dramatically reduce population before then.  That solution has been executed voluntarily in primitive cultures in the past so its discussion is not totally theoretical.  Every bad solution you can think of will likely happen if we do not take a rational decision before then.  That is part of human nature.  Thus demonstrating that passive inaction is a greater risk than uncomfortable discussions and difficult solutions.

ccg is certainly discussing this from the perspective of a group of people trying to figure out how to form a Lifeboat type of community.  He is not suggesting we start running around testing peoples DNA and culling the defectives and breeding the perfect ones.  And I expect from our discussions here that he would be one of the best people you could have around if you needed help.   

If discussions like this bother you so much you can just avoid them you know.

 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:38:47 PM by Neven »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2014, 11:35:19 AM »
To me these types of discussions are essential for many people to build their understandings of where we are and where we are going. 

I can agree with that statement. However history shows there are some lines which should not be crossed and tells a lot about who we are. Why don't we start there? A wealth of literature exists describing the nightmare happening when some feel more worth than others. And there is still a generation living and still suffering from that mindset. Ask them. Also have a look at Somalia, which has collapsed as a country and to my knowledge did not developed that kind of thinking.

What I mean is we have a choice. There are many examples showing the collapse is not unavoidable and smaller and bigger groups have managed to not go that path, despite overwhelming injustice and pressure. All you need to do is dig them up.

As pointed out to you by ccg everyone is already making these kind of decisions you are attacking ccg over. 

That's not true. ccgwm wrote: "If you're selecting a very limited number of people to attempt to survive in a collapsed world you simply wouldn't have the capability to keep someone like that alive."

How is this happening today? And if you really think about and put yourself in this very moment listening to that proposal, I would suggest you'll hear people saying much more offending stuff. Oh, and I'm not uncomfortable with the discussion, I just want ccg to consider to delete the post with the "someone like that" phrase.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:34:47 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2014, 05:23:35 PM »
I can agree with that statement. However history shows there are some lines which should not be crossed and tells a lot about who we are. Why don't we start there?

Ok.  But I disagree with your statement.  Each situation is unique and the lessons of history hopefully allows us to analyze what was done and why and what the result was.  And it sometimes tells about who we are and sometimes it doesn't.  Humanity has never been in the situation it is today in recorded history.  Actual survival is at stake.  What options are available to us to raise the odds of survival?  What are the consequences of executing each of those options individually and in concert with each other?  If we do nothing it is a choice as well and what are the consequences of that choice.  Compare all of the above.  Which option(s) provide the best chance of survival?  IS there anything more important than survival?  You seem to think so - but is that a valid position?  A personal choice perhaps, but the unborn of the future might just object to your deciding to sacrifice their existence over one of your principals. 

Quote
A wealth of literature exists describing the nightmare happening when some feel more worth than others. And there is still a generation living and still suffering from that mindset. Ask them. Also have a look at Somalia, which has collapsed as a country and to my knowledge did not developed that kind of thinking.

I disagree with the characterization that implies those holding this discussion are assuming they are worth more than others.  Choosing to act now chooses suffering for those choosing and also for those who bear some responsibility for the situation we are in.  It chooses that those who are worth more are those innocents who survive or come after the bottleneck.  I note that even most 20 year olds in this world are living at an emissions level well beyond what we can afford and thus they share in the responsibility (and they know better when the 20 year olds of 1970 had no idea).

Quote
What I mean is we have a choice. There are many examples showing the collapse is not unavoidable and smaller and bigger groups have managed to not go that path, despite overwhelming injustice and pressure. All you need to do is dig them up.

I do not believe this is true.  I spend a lot of time examining the data, the trends, learning more about human behavior, studying carrying capacity, etc. and I am convinced that collapse is unavoidable.  I have never seen an argument which could logically lead to any other conclusion.  So let's have it if you know it.  Yes, various groups are out there taking different paths.  We are discussing some of that on another topic right now.  I support many of them as the knowledge/skill bases they are developing will be essential to those who survive collapse and make it through the bottleneck (I strongly believe humanity will survive at some level).  But no one is pursuing a solution that prevents collapse unless we are discussing those who are pursuing some form of miracle of a technological form (highly improbable but not impossible) or one of a standard religious form (like those awaiting the Rapture - we don't even need to go there on what I think of that).

As pointed out to you by ccg everyone is already making these kind of decisions you are attacking ccg over. 

That's not true. ccgwm wrote: "If you're selecting a very limited number of people to attempt to survive in a collapsed world you simply wouldn't have the capability to keep someone like that alive."

How is this happening today? And if you really think about and put yourself in this very moment listening to that proposal, I would suggest you'll hear people saying much more offending stuff. Oh, and I'm not uncomfortable with the discussion, I just want ccg to consider to delete the post with the "someone like that" phrase.
[/quote]

I see no reason for deletion.  You know he did not mean it the way you are characterizing it.  Or you should know.  If you were not uncomfortable with the discussion you would not be trying to control it by deletion you would put forth alternate wording or ask for clarification. 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:39:30 PM by Neven »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2014, 05:50:31 PM »
I'm not sure I understand the basic question or the essential nature of this discussion, but that's never stopped me from sticking my big nose into anything. ;D

If there were any justice in the world (which, of course, there isn't), the groups (if any) that survived would be the ones who contributed least to the sh!t storm, and especially those cultures which have survived longest without negatively impacting their environments. That means probably starting with the San http://www.uscrossier.org/pullias/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/king.pdf .

Though they have recently been forced to take up farming, they are still close to their hunter-gatherer roots. They are about as close as we have to aboriginal humans. "
The San are one of fourteen known extant "ancestral population clusters" from which all known modern humans descend"

Other advantages:

They are "among the five populations with the highest measured levels of genetic diversity among the 121 distinct African populations sampled." So some of the concerns about genetic diversity would not be as much of a concern, perhaps.

I can think of a few other such groups (and I'm sure others could, too), but but if we have to keep things to a few thousand or tens of thousands, perhaps that's enough.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2014, 06:34:21 PM »
I get your point. The discussion smacks of eugenics. The minimum viable population is interesting but much of the rest of the "who lives/dies" moves into territory that we've had world wars over. It is really the stuff of nightmares.

But I am being quite clear - I'm not talking about killing anyone.

If it's just as bad to let someone die by not helping them - then every single one of us is just as guilty of letting people die already (above and beyond our direct contribution to deaths directly caused as a result of the lifestyle we participate in, which in my view is a serious point too - the deaths we already individually contributed to).

So from my perspective, people are either unable to differentiate the nuances here - or are guilty of hypocrisy by accusing me of thinking about something they are already doing?

CCG, no offense intended. My point was only that these discussions get "crunchy" and bring out some pretty raw emotions. I realize you're not advocating killing, rather a way of preservation.

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #34 on: January 15, 2014, 10:29:33 PM »
CCG, no offense intended. My point was only that these discussions get "crunchy" and bring out some pretty raw emotions. I realize you're not advocating killing, rather a way of preservation.

Oh, I took no offense. What I did take - and more from other responses than yours in fairness, was a reminder of just how alien the type of society in which I theoretically grew up is to me. I grew up in difficult circumstances on the fringes of a western society in a large family (my parents had 8 living children). I am young enough to expect to suffer the consequences of climate change at some point in the future whether you take my pessimistic outlook or the much more optimistic "by 2050" one.

Accordingly, as someone who did not participate much in the ideological party that has driven the destruction of our futures I am somewhat annoyed with the behaviour of the more affluent, especially the older who had the time and opportunity to have avoided this mess but without excuses for the younger who continue on the same pathways. In identifying that I am annoyed with such people (the majority of westernised civilisation) I have a clear choice - I can walk away from my analysis of the situation and probably maintain myself in at least a reasonable comfortable lower middle class lifestyle until things fall apart (maybe do better if lucky) or I can stand by what I believe in.

To stand by what I believe in means being willing to sacrifice that comfortable lower middle class lifestyle I could probably achieve. It means taking risks with almost everything I have ever owned - including my life and freedom (and to some extent I have already taken risks on all those levels). But to preach ideals and to complain about the actions of others - in my view - requires one to put ones deeds where ones words are. It's easy to be comfortably hypocritical from the comfort of a nice warm home with a secure future, when you can delude yourself that you are already doing your best and absolve yourself of blame. An awful lot harder to really look at the world and behave as the beliefs you espouse demand.

That's why I keep pushing the example of the Somali woman walking across the desert with nothing (not even food) to try to take her children to Daadab in Kenya before they all die. One or more of her children became too weak to continue, so what does she do? She has nothing - no help - no resources - only those children and that journey. The weak child will get no stronger and to sit and wait in that hope is to condemn the others to a much higher probability of death.

And thus she abandons the weak child because someone like that isn't strong enough to survive and can only endanger the rest of her children by making the attempt to save them. The weak child dies alone and abandoned in the desert (kinder if she had directly killed it?) while she and the rest make it to the camp (for the story to be told at all, had they all died, it would be just a few more skeletons in the desert).

I can not fault such a decision. It is a horrible and brutal choice, but what other choice did she have? Who are any of us to tell her they should all have died? (the only other choice)

Quote
One of them said how she left her sick child on the road because he was too weak to make the journey to Kenya.

Burdened by other small children, she left him in the desert.

"His eyes still haunt me to this day," she told us.

I doubt any of us can truly understand how such a choice would feel, or how brutal such an experience can be. Nonetheless, I think it falls to us - if we would talk about barbarism especially - to try to do so.

Droughts in that part of Africa have become significantly more frequent (likely due to climate change). The consequent decline in food security opens the door to extremism and famine and desperation. This leads directly to examples like the one above. There is a climate change fingerprint here.

I am not going to argue that climate change is the only factor at work here, or all the responsibility lies there - but I am going to argue that it is nonetheless a factor contributing to this circumstance. I am then going to move (in my mind, quite logically) from that assessment to say that virtually everyone who reads what I am saying contributed (in however small a way - it was still a contribution) to the situation described above.

We contributed both through our inaction and inability to use our resources and affluence to prevent such a situation in the first place, and we also contributed more directly by emitting greenhouse gases that caused the climate to change making this region more insecure and vulnerable.

Does anyone else here agree they have a link (however weakly you want to see it, it's still a link) to that dead child? Or do we prefer to rationalise it away and find excuses for why we are not connected in any fashion at all?

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2014, 11:13:58 PM »
Quote
Does anyone else here agree they have a link (however weakly you want to see it, it's still a link) to that dead child?

Of course, the link is 100%. The enemy is us. It's nigh impossible to make that link go away though. It takes a lifetime, but should it take a life? Is it enough to do anything you can within your possibilities (and from your starting point), or do you literally sacrifice your life to make up for the guilt, regardless of the question whether this has any use?

This, of course, is pure philosophy: what's the right way to live?

I've been following this discussion, but didn't have time to react. Things went off the rails a bit because of the talk how small groups dealt with crime, babies with defects and old people. This can quickly be interpreted as eugenics or something of the sort. Although this is not what happened in this thread, I also don't see what use it is to theorize about these things. These things sort themselves out in practice. I don't have a problem with it being discussed though, even if it isn't my cup of tea.

Of course, the subject - how small groups operate in a post-collapse environment - has many more aspects.
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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2014, 11:22:37 PM »
How is this happening today? And if you really think about and put yourself in this very moment listening to that proposal, I would suggest you'll hear people saying much more offending stuff. Oh, and I'm not uncomfortable with the discussion, I just want ccg to consider to delete the post with the "someone like that" phrase.

I have referred several times (excessively almost) to an example - the Somali woman trying to save her children from famine and extremism. So how is it happening today - there's an answer already.

So was it barbaric for the mother in this example to abandon her weak child to die alone and afraid in the desert?

Or was the greater barbarism that we live in a world where affluent societies and individuals choose to ignore this sort of situation, to go about their cosy lifestyles that are already creating and can only create in much larger numbers such situations?

Incidentally "someone like that" was being used only as an identifier for any person not possessed of the necessary attributes to be logistically appropriate within a small group struggling on the edges of survival. In your example the implication was that the person was physically unable (and as I said, they also wouldn't be selected as a paratrooper in a modern day army...), but I could just as easily have been speaking about a person who lacked the ethical or moral outlook to be suitable, or who was simply unsuitable as a result of a lifetime of comfortable living. If someone like Neven (or any other moderators) wanted the post removed or reworded, I will - but otherwise I'm inclined to leave history standing.

I think if you read closely you will find I actually stated that I intellectually agreed at some level with the ideals you were espousing - if I might quote myself:

That's a very different and far more brutal world than most anyone able to participate in the topic can comprehend. While I agree intellectually with the ideals you espouse - to look after all members - and to value human life, when you're talking bottom line survival in a primitive world things get a lot more ethically complicated.

« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:42:03 PM by Neven »

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2014, 11:47:50 PM »
Of course, the link is 100%. The enemy is us. It's nigh impossible to make that link go away though. It takes a lifetime, but should it take a life? Is it enough to do anything you can within your possibilities (and from your starting point), or do you literally sacrifice your life to make up for the guilt, regardless of the question whether this has any use?

Personally - to literally sacrifice my life from guilt would be to waste it. Therefore I favour doing everything I can within my possibilities and starting point and would only literally sacrifice my life with a damn good reason.

This, of course, is pure philosophy: what's the right way to live?

Actually, I think it's a rather important question, philosophy aside. In a small group logistics context it would raise questions about how you organise a society - and how you could try to achieve sustainability (and hopefully decent living standards etc) in the longer run by working with what we have (human nature) to try to solve the problems caused by the same.

For example, it is human nature to organise into hierarchical social structures. This tends to concentrate power into the hands of the few at the top. They tend to use this power to benefit themselves and this becomes self reinforcing. Is there any ways to configure a society such that either they cannot self reinforce in this way - or such that one can at least prevent harm to everyone else (present and future) in the process?

If one has an answer for a small group, how does it change as group size does? A small group can become a big one later - and if one can derive an answer at any level, to me it's an important part of the puzzle of securing the future of our species.

I've been following this discussion, but didn't have time to react. Things went off the rails a bit because of the talk how small groups dealt with crime, babies with defects and old people. This can quickly be interpreted as eugenics or something of the sort. Although this is not what happened in this thread, I also don't see what use it is to theorize about these things. These things sort themselves out in practice. I don't have a problem with it being discussed though, even if it isn't my cup of tea.

Of course, the subject - how small groups operate in a post-collapse environment - has many more aspects.

The question of how small groups deal with those specific issues really wasn't intended to be the purpose/focus of this thread - I started it intending it to be a more appropriate home for the conversation about minimum viable population and intentionally kept the title open to cover small group logistics post-collapse in general (not really expecting much participation in such a fringe topic).

Anyway if my lack of sensitivity to other peoples sensitivities has offended anyone, I feel I ought to at least apologise for that much.

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #38 on: January 16, 2014, 12:46:31 AM »
Quote
Anyway if my lack of sensitivity to other peoples sensitivities has offended anyone, I feel I ought to at least apologise for that much.

I've re-read the whole thread and it was mainly a misunderstanding that then led to more discussing of that aspect of collapse that in my view is better left alone, or left to practice, and not too much to theory avant la lettre.

Quote
They tend to use this power to benefit themselves and this becomes self reinforcing. Is there any ways to configure a society such that either they cannot self reinforce in this way - or such that one can at least prevent harm to everyone else (present and future) in the process?

I don't know. Things like maximum individual food, energy and addiction independence go a long way in preventing power disbalances and 'opportunity makes the thief'. Everything went wrong when our ancestors got addicted to grains that could be stored and traded. So basically we have to get rid of grains as a staple food source.

There, problem solved.  ;D

BTW, making a documentary about this is my next project as soon as our house/garden is 90% finished and all of the Arctic sea ice has melted so I can stop blogging.  ;)
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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #39 on: January 16, 2014, 05:51:06 AM »
I don't know. Things like maximum individual food, energy and addiction independence go a long way in preventing power disbalances and 'opportunity makes the thief'. Everything went wrong when our ancestors got addicted to grains that could be stored and traded. So basically we have to get rid of grains as a staple food source.

There, problem solved.  ;D

Actually - that's a difficult idea to argue against. It reminds me of something I read a while ago - this link is to similar (if not the same) text:

http://www.ditext.com/diamond/mistake.html

A well argued article of why agriculture might not have perhaps been the leap forwards we believe and with hints as to why it might indeed have marked the foundation of many of our problems (not necessarily all, if we assume primitive hunters could have hunted some mega-fauna to extinction).

I like the idea of humanity as a species that can try to ultimately unravel the mysteries of the universe and that has some control over it's destiny, which is incompatible with returning to being hunter gatherers - but is there any reason such a view should be favoured? How many individuals does one know who truly care about such things (the workings of the universe or at least world around them, as opposed to the sports results or their last night out)? Does human nature not by definition tend to focus people upon the immediate objectives that must be fulfilled to conform to evolutionary pressures (staying alive and reproducing being prime motivators)? Are there likely practical limits in the ability of people to understand the universe etc and therefore can we ever actually expect to achieve such a goal, or is it a futile effort?

Art and music are both a lot older than agriculture - so some form of civilisation need not depend upon it.

BTW, making a documentary about this is my next project as soon as our house/garden is 90% finished and all of the Arctic sea ice has melted so I can stop blogging.  ;)

You just need a fancy little data storage centre in the middle of nowhere and you too could be Pete Postlethwaite!

Neven

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #40 on: January 16, 2014, 09:32:24 AM »
You just need a fancy little data storage centre in the middle of nowhere and you too could be Pete Postlethwaite!

The Age of Really Stupid?  ;)

Quote
which is incompatible with returning to being hunter gatherers

You won't see me promoting a return to hunting and gathering, but rather a switch from agriculture to horticulture. By combining the good of the old (traditional crafts and skills) with the good of the new (appropriate technology) it should be possible for small groups to gain a higher level of independence and comfort (less back-breaking labour) than both our ancestors and current generations, and have a sufficiently small footprint.

I'm not sure about that last part. It's all theory, but I hope to have enough practical experience in 10-20 years time.
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

JackTaylor

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #41 on: January 16, 2014, 03:56:04 PM »
Quote
Neven: reply # 38;
"So basically we have to get rid of grains as a staple food source"
If we get rid of humanity we could do that!

But not so fast.  We'll probably kill bees first.
The answer to below is "No"
Quote
http://www.honeybeesuite.com/do-honey-bees-pollinate-wheat/
"However, the grass family feeds a large portion of the human population. According to the Food and Agriculture Association (FAO), the big three—maize (corn), wheat, and rice—account for over 40% of all human calories consumed. Other grains from grass include barley, sorghum, millet, oats, rye, tricale, teff, spelt and kamut."
Bold emphasis = mine.

No insect pollinated food plants - no grains.  Results leave " Self Pollinating Vegetable Plants"
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/self-pollinating-vegetable-plants-42482.html

Without "protein" would our brains shrink to pre homo-sapien where we return to being "Simian?"

We have a lot to discuss.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #42 on: January 16, 2014, 05:20:41 PM »
Jack,   Corn, amaranth, peas and beans don't need bees so it is still possible to maintain a plant based and nutrient ( amino acid) balanced protein diet without bees. Some of these same crops are also drought tolerant and can handle heat. They were staples for thousands of years because they can be harvested and stored for winter use. I have only grown one crop of millet but it should also be included on this list as a hardy heat resistant crop. Food for thought. 

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #43 on: January 16, 2014, 06:36:08 PM »
Jack,   Corn, amaranth, peas and beans don't need bees so it is still possible to maintain a plant based and nutrient ( amino acid) balanced protein diet without bees. Some of these same crops are also drought tolerant and can handle heat. They were staples for thousands of years because they can be harvested and stored for winter use. I have only grown one crop of millet but it should also be included on this list as a hardy heat resistant crop. Food for thought. 

Growing food is likely to be of critical importance to small groups post collapse, but I thought I'd copy this to the Gardening thread (and add my half cents) as it also has wider relevance to people simply attempting to increase resilience or maintain heirloom seed strains.

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,715.msg18980.html#msg18980

JimD

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #44 on: January 16, 2014, 07:14:50 PM »
Jack,

Just to reinforce what Bruce said.  All of the major food crops are grass based and none of them require insect pollination.

But maybe we misunderstood your NO?

BTW for everyone.  There is a misconception about the origins of agriculture and the eating of grains.  The eating of grains was certainly common for probably 10's of thousands of years before the point about 10,000 years ago when formal agriculture is considered to have started.  Anthropological sites have provided evidence that barley and wheat were being consumed 25,000 years ago.  The gathering part of Hunter-Gatherer would certainly have worked out that various grains were edible and there would have been a slow evolution towards agriculture just like there was in the domesticating of various wild animals over time until we ended up with domestic livestock.

Maybe not eliminate grains but go back to harvesting with scythes and that should help keep population under control  :P  And we would not need to be going to the gym for exercise either.

 
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #45 on: January 16, 2014, 08:09:46 PM »
The gathering part of Hunter-Gatherer would certainly have worked out that various grains were edible and there would have been a slow evolution towards agriculture just like there was in the domesticating of various wild animals over time until we ended up with domestic livestock.

Presumably at some point some genius worked out that what they were taking to eat was seeds that could be stuck in the ground to make the plant come back there next year. Then news either traveled or the discovery was replicated or both.

Maybe not eliminate grains but go back to harvesting with scythes and that should help keep population under control  :P  And we would not need to be going to the gym for exercise either.

Incidentally you've hit on something - a reason why I'm not convinced in small group logistical terms that grains are an ideal choice. They're an awful lot of work to process from growth through to harvest if you're doing it with only hand tools - and you cannot assume on scythes either if you meant metal ones - not unless the small group has people capable of every step required to make them: discovery -> extraction -> refining -> metalworking, or is fortunate enough to be near another group that can do that and will trade. Needless to say if one has metal production capabilities one opens up an awful lot of other tools and possibilities - at the price of having to work out how you can sustainably consume those metals (a contradiction and therefore a dilemma if aiming for true sustainability).

Setting aside briefly the question of how you can sustainably consume metals (though I'm curious to hear any views people might have), I found these plants to reward quite well in terms of yield vs labour:
  • corn
  • fava beans (also called broad beans)
  • potatoes
  • jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes)

I haven't tried grains, but my impression is they'd be a lot of work - from planting to protecting to harvesting to threshing to cooking...

I'd be very interested in anything people can add to the list of crops that are relatively less labour intensive (assuming only very basic tools and possibly not even metal ones).

Bonus points for plants with a high tolerance to both drought and frost, and where people can indicate the parameters of both tolerance and yield (particularly max/min temperature and moisture range). In fact - the more information the better - but if it's more gardening and less small group logistics maybe better on that thread.

Also my logic is that the less time and effort are needed to provide food for a small group the more resource (time/energy) that small group has to making progress in other areas (bearing in mind you are starting in a post collapse environment on the margins of survival and may wish to do something about it). That said if anyone can make a better argument than exercise for why one would favour more labour intensive crops... (I don't think I buy the population control argument - labour intensive crops also motivate people to have more children to help in the fields and assure their food security in old age?)

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #46 on: January 16, 2014, 08:24:44 PM »
One tiny detail I wanted to comment on in case it helps shape discussion:

ccg is certainly discussing this from the perspective of a group of people trying to figure out how to form a Lifeboat type of community.

JimD is actually pretty close to the mark here - but I'd like to pick up on the word lifeboat. A lifeboat implies a small group that is merely surviving until they can be rescued by a larger outside party.

My assumption is that such groups may have no outside assistance and possibly even no outside contact for an indefinite period of time (it could be hundreds or thousands of years for remnant groups to rediscover each other if our collapse goes deep enough, bearing in mind how small the world will become for people struggling to survive and without modern technologies for travel and communication and with a high degree of inter group violence until population is comfortably below new carrying capacity).

Therefore I view the questions as more in the context of a seed civilisation, rather than a lifeboat. That is to say that in theory the small group could one day grow into a civilisation in it's own right. All of the ancient empires - and even the modern world - all started somewhere.

That means that survival is not the only thing to keep in mind - but also much longer term questions about how one would try to steer such a group down a sustainable pathway and how you would try to avoid them repeating the mistakes we know to avoid. It means considering things such as the changes we would expect in language - imagine how many words will drop out of the human vocabulary with the death of the industrial age? Why would people retain words that no longer mean anything? The simple challenge of communicating across generations becomes non trivial in such a context.

This is a very long term view - thousands of years beyond my lifetime, and that adds another layer of complexity in trying to work out how one can try to push events down a desired path from so far beyond the grave.

I could go on and on - really just trying to impart the flavour of the perspective rather than all the details I've considered.

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #47 on: January 16, 2014, 09:01:41 PM »
ccg

I kind of knew that is what you meant and a good point about the phrase lifeboat.

One reason grains were so important perhaps has some power to override the labor issue.  Some of them can be stored for extremely long periods of time.  Famine insurance. Even if one did not consume much wheat, building a stock pile and growing a set amount each year could ensure survival when the inevitable crop failures arrive.

I think that metal mining will be more a form of cannibalizing left over civilizational infrastructure for the first thousand years or more.  But we could find some obsidian and make the scythes out of that too I guess.
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #48 on: January 16, 2014, 09:41:08 PM »
One reason grains were so important perhaps has some power to override the labor issue.  Some of them can be stored for extremely long periods of time.  Famine insurance. Even if one did not consume much wheat, building a stock pile and growing a set amount each year could ensure survival when the inevitable crop failures arrive.

Dry beans or corn also store well (and grains can be mold prone too if not dry). I'm not saying I'm exactly against grains - they are an option I have kept in plan (it occurs to me I really should check if I covered enough bases - though as always cost and logistics limit ideals) and would be surprised if many people doing anything similar did not also keep them as an option.

I think that metal mining will be more a form of cannibalizing left over civilizational infrastructure for the first thousand years or more.  But we could find some obsidian and make the scythes out of that too I guess.

I've heard that idea (cannibalising metals from the dead world) before but I think it is a mistake for a number of reasons:

  • You are predicating the foundations of a future civilisation upon a finite resource that will run out leaving only problems later, see any similarities with fossil fuels?
  • Most commonly used metals corrode or oxidise in timescales well under a thousand years, plus there is the logistical problems of working them
  • Much of the existing infrastructure is going to be destroyed, whether by rising seas, sand dunes, modern weaponry, etc
  • the ideal sites for long term survival and eventual prosperity may be very far removed geographically from those where people live today due to the scale of the climate shifts

There are other materials and techniques that could meet such a need if you are operating on a primitive basis - metals remain a rather problematic piece of the puzzle I pore over though, as I think we could really do with them long term.

Nail scissors are one of my pet concerns, not having teeth that line up well enough to bite them. I must admit to a selfish minor accumulation of these... although I guess experience tells me nails break if left untended, it's just more annoying that way.

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Re: Small group logistics in a collapse context
« Reply #49 on: January 16, 2014, 10:20:20 PM »
But we could find some obsidian and make the scythes out of that too I guess.

Incidentally, another minor note - I don't think it's actually that important how you construct a tool to make cutting grain stalks easier. Anything that is marginally better than doing it by hand is a sufficient starting point - regardless of the material. It is in our nature to gradually innovate and improve such things and in a society that retains basic education (and a certain amount of indoctrination into the principles it is founded upon) I would like to think this process could happen fairly quickly with such simple things (especially if the society/group can pull away from the very margins of survival and have resource for such pursuits). Accordingly we don't need to get hung up on the tools we are familiar with - the simplest of blades of any material to assist cutting can arguably serve as the foundation point here.

So much knowledge stands to be lost, the premise has to be that most of the pathway of discovery would be essentially repeated (hence I try to focus on retaining things that serve as foundations, especially if they could take horrendous amounts of time to be found accidentally again). It's even possible that the future tools for the same purpose would end up totally different (perhaps better in some instances).

There is perhaps an opportunity - if you solve the communication across large numbers of generations problem (I have ideas but nothing properly prepared) - to direct the pathway of discovery with a trail of breadcrumbs to try to guide the process along a pre-planned pathway. I'd also like to think if you could communicate thus across such long periods of time you might have a better shot at maintaining the credibility of the old wisdom and the very rough "road map" it provided? In an ideal scenario at least some people even thousands of years later would understand what it was all about - the objectives being worked for, the pitfalls to avoid and why. Without that maintained understanding and influence it becomes far easier for the process to be derailed into a dead end.

One is looking at a strange blend of indoctrination, religion, myth and demonstration (of facts) for such a long lasting message. Hopefully I can find enough time eventually to adequately prepare a proper strategy and implementation plan.

As always any better/alternative ideas are welcome.