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At 15:58 30/09/99 +1200, I wrote:
>  That is, I currently believe that if everyone on earth was living like
>me, we 6 billion humans would be ... and all other species still living 
>would be able to flourish. In fact a material standard-of-living quite a 
>bit higher than my present one would still be sustainable, measured by ...

**  That was to emphasise how my views differ from those of the biologist
PL and Mike, i.e. that without question, by dropping our consumption to
almost nothing (and living densely, closer to the oceans and the equator),
even 6 billion of us would allow the DE "flourishing" for all other
species. Then we would have to ask ourselves: "what rate of consumption
(and human population) would have no greater impact on other species than
is the typical effect of one species on those around it?" 

**  Now I want to explore the possibility that, at least in small groups,
sufficient "flourishing" for most people could be a result of significant
_differences_ in consumption, within the group. As examples, I look to: (1)
the Lord of a Manor and his serfs; (2) our family of 4 or 5; (3) a village
in Europe ten years after the Black Death (bubonic plague).
**  It's an attempt to put a "real life" overlay onto the patently false
"everyone on earth being the same" statements I and many others use.

**  I don't regard feudalism as inherently wrong; in fact, with its mutual
dependence relationships, it has much to teach us about living sustainably.
Being human, there were obvious "bad eggs", and since power corrupts, the
Baron was more likely to be such than the ordinary man or woman. What I (at
least) know little about, is examples of where a valley with its villages
and Manor house was a happy place to live, for _many_ decades, and with
luck, a few hundred years.
**  I would guess that there would be a range of ways of living, from bare
subsistence to the relative luxury of the Lord and his family, but
typically each person or family group would be generally satisfied with
life. The average for the people in such a valley could well be at a
sustainable level of consumption (or impact on the planet's ecosystems). 

**  Our family has a range of consumption (originally because I was
determined to live within my means: an income of ~$3,200 per year), ranging
from my wife's at something over $30,000 a year through my son's (and
daughter's, after she returns from China later this month) probably in the
$5,000 a year area, to my own, at under $1,500 a year. The lower-spending
people benefit from "the scraps from the landlord's table". The
(relatively) high-spending person buys things for herself (fruit, the
occasional computer, car transport) which then filter down (or excess is
given) to the low-spending people. My son, for example, really values the
good-condition fresh fruit she buys weekly, while I willingly eat the
better parts of the fruit rejected by the others. And the high income was
enough to pay for not only her own visit to friends in Kenya and her mother
in Wales, but also to gift the plane fare (to Beijing) to our daughter so
she could have months of Mandarin immersion.
**  Again, a factor of more than 20 in consumption rates, yet we're all 
happy with our very different ways of life. 
And close to sustainable I'm guessing.

**  I picked "10 years after the Black Death" as the last time (ignoring
wartime) I'm sure there were too few people to do the necessary jobs, in
quite a large region. 
**  I visualise a European village at this time as having arable farmers,
herders, woodsmen, a hunter or trapper, and several cottage industries
making objects and materials in high demand. All people there would be
valued, including the village idiot and of course the visiting friar. But
the consumption rates could well have varied greatly, from the (relatively
rich) senior family, maybe a merchant, to the roust-about who is basically
"hands for hire" living behind a shed. There would be a certain amount of
hand-outs from the richer to the poorer, and some of the poor might have
resented the wealth differential, but I'm guessing that for most decades,
most of the people would be happy enough. The (relatively) frequent holiday
celebrations would have helped keep people willing to tolerate their


(David MacClement) d1v9d @ (remove spaces)

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