The PRI Third Ethic thread

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by pebble, May 28, 2012.

  1. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    One of the real sticking points for the population issue is that we have become so fearful of death and dying that we spend trillions of dollars on research, medicine and all sorts of things trying to delay and avoid it. What if we just stopped trying not to die? What if we abandoned vaccination programs? What if we just let nature take it's course? What if we worked on living and dying with dignity? I'm just sayin'...

    "Tell 'im he's dreamin'"
     
  2. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    How could an ethical and empathetic person suggest deliberately withholding vaccinations which would prevent childhood illnesses such as polio, German measles, whooping cough, etc when other methods of population reduction such as universal women's rights are available? Is that considered "Care of People" in these circles?

    If such is being promoted among permaculture circles, it is far more dangerous to the image of permaculture than any kind of spiritual practices or hippie tree-huggery.
     
  3. deee

    deee Junior Member

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    Hi Grahame,
    This is a really interesting point. There's pretty good evidence that decreasing childhood mortality rates also decreases the birth rate, and thus overall population (the biggest decrease in birth rate comes when you increase education and literacy rates for women) - if women feel more sure that their children will survive, they have less kids knowing that its more likely that some of them will make it to adult and support them in turn. I do agree that we spend far too much money on keeping people alive. Of course, that's a bloody hard conversation to have in most cases. We spend stuff-all on preventative medicine and we spend lots of research money on limited areas while ignoring others. I used to work in evidence-based medicine. The job came complete with a nice international conference each year in an exotic location. I realised that our model was broken when a South American paediatrician remarked, "I sick of hearing about keeping fat, middle-aged, white men alive when all I see everyday are kids with malnutrition." Fair share indeed!
    D
     
  4. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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  5. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Any chance we could remove the V word from Grahame's post? (to avoid thread derailment).

    I'm pretty much with you though Grahame in terms of getting over our problem with death and dying. I think any discussion of population and permaculture in the West needs to go hand in hand with one about euthanasia. If we stop having so many babies now (and we should), who will look after us in our old age?

    Dee, those are really good points. Not sure if the child mortality one applies to the over developed countries though, does it? I think, ethically, we have a responsibility to look at population overshoot in our own countries before we think about places where child mortality is high.
     
  6. deee

    deee Junior Member

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    For the record, I do not support withholding vaccinations. Vaccinations have a made a huge difference to childhood mortality rates, reduced suffering and increased quality of life, and reduced longterm health costs, especially important in poor countries that cannot support people with the sorts of disabilities that arise from diseases like polio, measles, mumps and rubella. Objection to vaccination is a first world luxury (I'm not willing to debate voluntary vaccination, so please lets not go there).
    D
     
  7. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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  8. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I haven't offered an opinion on it Ludi, just thought I would be the one to open the can of worms. I figure if Permaculture as a movement holds the issue of population so highly in it's ethics then there should reasonably be so discussion of how that might look. We offer the idea but have not really come up with a workable solution. What is reasonable as a population control measure and what is not?

    I'll offer my specific thoughts and opinions as the opportunity arises. I'll head over to the new thread and see if I can offer some food for thought over there.
     
  9. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Just like with everything else in permaculture, it's personal responsibility that has to control population. Permaculture isn't about forcing ethics down people's throats, but adopting those ethics because they just make sense(assuming most people already haven't even before permaculture). Forcing a high infant mortality rate by withholding vaccinations doesn't fall under people care. Withholding insulin for people with diabetes(for example) would also not fall under people care and it wouldn't fall under personal responsibility either.
     
  10. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I don't think anyone has talked about force or withholding Unmutual.

    What Grahame was suggesting (I think) is that we look at our attitudes towards death and question the ethics of the amount of resources we spend on keeping people alive. This was in the context of us having far too many people on the planet to live sustainably.

    For instance. We already make choices about death and health care that are partially ethics based and mostly economically based. I'm not aware of any country that has universal health care. All countries decide who gets to live and who doesn't. Life saving surgeries are denied people who smoke or are overweight. People needing treatment for cancer are put on waiting lists. etc

    If those things are acceptable ie prioritising lives because of limited resources, and using ethics to help make those priorities, how do they translate into a post peak oil world, or one where people are starving because we've reached our limits?

    I don't believe that personal responsibility is the central point here. I think personal responsibility always needs to be contained within collective responsibility. Personal responsibility will never solve overpopulation, because not enough people think about things globally, and in the West at least oil gives us a false sense of security in terms of the local (we don't see daily that we are living beyond our means).
     
  11. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    If we "abandon vaccination programs", then that will be forcing, even if it's your own child. It's too late for me to make the personal choice of not getting childhood vaccinations. And as far as I know, at least in this country, that's about the only vaccination program that's run outside of annual flu shots. Since I am in the group that would probably survive a flu pandemic, I don't think that I should ethically voice an opinion to stop flu vaccinations(not that I would promote no vaccinations).

    While the decline in oil will be a fundamental issue, I don't see why good medicine can't be practiced without oil just as good agriculture is practiced without oil. I could be wrong, but using plastic in medicine is due to it's throw away properties so infections from unsterilized equipment is minimized?(maybe someone in medicine can answer that). We have a lot of medical knowledge that could easily transfer to a petroleum-free situation. Come to think on it, plastic packaging for meat at the store is also because of disease prevention. I'm not sure how bio-plastic holds up against pathogens.

    A better way, IMO at least, would be to limit output by either reducing the number of children each couple has to one(effectively reducing their personal population by 50% when all is said and done), or to increase the number of years between generations(though that would be a rather slow approach, but small and slow solutions, right?).

    Personal responsibility is ingrained in permaculture, and permaculture is, after all, what we're talking about here. It's about changes that an individual can do to make this planet a better place for our species to live. Of course, effecting those changes is a lot easier with help. Besides, I'm pretty convinced that collective responsibility doesn't exist in large groups of people. It seems to me that the more people in a group, the less likely you are to have responsibility.

    But to stick with the main points, and to bring it back on topic:

    Have one child per couple and have that child after 30(I'm unaware of any medical reasons to have children at a young age for women, so the age thing might be wrong). If there is an issue with not having enough people to look after the elderly, then we're about to find out soon enough with the baby-boomers from WW2.
     
  12. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    It's not just the packaging. It's the transport costs - e.g. all contraceptive pills sold in Australia are manufactured in Asia. And the chemical processes involved in manufacturing are big users of energy. Most developed countries would not have the technological know how to quickly build drug manufacturing labs and run them without using lots of fossil fuel. And they wouldn't be able to access the base products that are needed to make the medicines from.

    I think we have lost our medical knowledge and skill that relates to a low energy system. Lab tests, x rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, ECG's etc etc are all done so widely now that doctors and nurses have forgotten how to make a diagnosis without them.

    Health wise I think we are going to be in for a rude shock post peak oil. Apart from abstinence there will be no contraception readily available.... Unless you want to learn how to make your own condoms from sheep's intestines that is!

    You are correct that the age thing is wrong. Fertility starts to fall after 27, the miscarriage rate increases (and therefore the cost of medical care), the rate of babies born with abnormalities goes up, high blood pressure, diabetes, caesarean section etc etc - just about every pregnancy related problem goes up as you get older. In the 'olden days' women having their first baby over 27 were labelled as 'elderly primigravida'. We've shifted the goal posts to 35 now - not because women are healthier (the opposite is true - obesity is a major problem) but because most women ARE over 27 when they have their first child now in Australia.

    After we start falling down the peak oil slope the notion of planned family sizes is going to fall by the way side - it is a product of our western oil rich world and we aren't going to be able to switch fertility on and off as we have become used to. And you only have to look at the pages of a history book to see how well abstinence works as a global population control measure....
     

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