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Survival of the fittest

  1. Feb 8, 2004 #1
    If we apply natures rule of survival of the fittest to people living in first world countries vs those that live in third world countries; who do you think will survive in the case of some world wide disaster say like oil ran out next week. Personally I think that those in the 3rd world have a far greater potential to survive as they are far more accustomed to living without. Most people in the 1st world would die if they had to gather and find food to live. ??
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2004 #2
    i would tend to agree though humans in general have a remarkable ability to adapt. really makes you wonder who is fitest though, doesn't it?
  4. Feb 11, 2004 #3


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    Actually Darwinian evolution postulates the failure of the weakest species, which is diferent of the survival of the fitest.
  5. Feb 11, 2004 #4
    I agree that the less oil dependent any given society currently is, the more likely they would be to survive this particular problem intact. Remote tropical jungle and mountain tribes wouldn't even notice it, except to the extent they stopped seeing planes going by overhead.
  6. Feb 14, 2004 #5
    Oil is not a survival trait.

    I would say that the majority of Americans would survive and actually thrive. This is why:

    1. Population. While having the third largest population of any country at 288,368,698 (Census Estimate 2002), we have a fairly low population to square mile rate at approx 79.6 people per square mile. Population growth is only a little over 1% (Government says 1% but Census calcs to 1.3%). In 1999 we exported 48.2 billion dollars of Agriculture and imported only 36.7 billion leaving a favorable 11.5 billion in our favor. Americans will not starve. There may be a small to medium die off in the higher population areas, large cities etc., but that will not last long.

    2. Infrastucture. Survival is a tiered strategy. 1st tier is food. 3rd world countries are starving and spend all their time to be not starving. They have not built up an infrastructure because there has never been a time when they had excess monies to build one. The populations in general are also undereducated, 80.4% of all Americans have a high school degree. (Nothing to brag about for Americans, but still high compared to 3rd world countries). So these are 2 huge advantages. Using the existing infrastructure we would divert energies to converting vegetable oils, into usuable fuel, plastics and synthetics for critical logistics, such as railway transport. Now we have food to the people who need it.

    3. Technology. Okay now everyone has food. Basic needs are taken care of. People will have to drastically change their habits, no personal cars until electric motors are in full swing, less electrical consumption and more Nuclear power. Luckily for us we have a technological society. We already can make oil, fuel, and even synthetic clothes out of corn. We have usable electric motors for transport. Research and Development will be top priority, and by the time our grandchildren are born it will be like it never happened.

    This is just a general overview, of course there will be pluses and minuses, American has a huge trade deficit in manufacturing, (We don't build a lot of stuff here anymore) that we will have to overcome. But in the end I believe that the abundance of the last 400 years will see us through the worst of it, and the advantages of the 1st world countries far exceed the 3rd world advantage of surviving.
  7. Feb 14, 2004 #6
    Just so you know.

    I thought I should mention that I used America as my example because I am most familar with it. Different countries would have to use different strategies, Austraila for instance would have difficulty because they have a stretch of country 3,300 hundred miles that separates one side of the country from another and is unusable. England would have problems because they wouldn't be able to support the population vs. food production. Americas big problem is consumption.

    But in general I still think 1st world countries would come out ahead.
  8. Feb 14, 2004 #7
    Is it possible the bigger countrys would take the little countrys by force to survive?
  9. Feb 14, 2004 #8
    Thanos, it depends if you need oil to take them over, you could amass a whole armarda of donkeys to tow the tanks maybe. I know that there are nuclear power ships to get you there but what then?

    Lrdmora, how does a degree help you survive if all the infrastucture has been ripped from under you? Somehow I don't see Americans or anyone else for that matter grouping together to tackle the problem. I think that in a real disaster its everyman for themselves, which is basically how the 3rd world lives ergo they are more acustomed to living in that environment therefore would be more probable to survive in the end, in which a new 1st world order would be born.
  10. Feb 14, 2004 #9
    Possibility of unstability


    I think it would be more likely that the smaller countries would dissolve into small cliques or nations as the governments of these countries fail. These nations would fight each other for stockpiled resources, and they more they fought, the less likely it would be for them to actually build anything to produce resources. Soon they would run out of resources to steal, or run into a country that was superior in strength, and that would be the end of them.

    I think in some cases the larger countries will take over the smaller ones, but only if necessary. One scenario would be a country with the same border whose government has collapsed and chaos is reigning. Then it might be a safety issue for the larger country. But in general the 1st world countries will not take over a 3rd world county unless there is a net gain of resources.

    Consider the drain on an already unstable economy, and the resources it would take to wage war in a no-oil world. Almost all the technology of modern armies relies on oil and power. In most cases it would not make sense for a 1st world nation.

    However, when the economy has stabilized and the 1st world nations have aquired alternative energy sources, then the advantages they have will be enormous. And of course the government would be a lot stronger than it is today, I think it would have to be to handle the crisis of no oil, and a strong government does not care about what the people think, and would be more likely to start a war, because they would need no excuse.
  11. Feb 14, 2004 #10
    Having no oil is not the end of infrastructure.


    A person with a higher education is less likely to just give up. Plus he has some education to help him solve problems, like no oil.

    If the oil ends tomorrow the infrastructure will still exist. Most countries still rely on nuclear power and coal for electricity, the country is not just going to rise up in chaos because we have no oil. And I disagree with your statement that you don' t think that people will group together to tackle a problem. Why not? What makes you so sure that it will be every man for themselves? The higher educated you are the more likely you are to cooperate with other people, and Americans have a history of solving tough problems. For example, at the start of WWII our navy was demolished, we had a very small military, and little or no weapons and tanks. In three years we out manufacturered all the other countries combined. Different problem but same sort of solution.

    Humans will always discover a way, it is our nature to do so.
  12. Feb 14, 2004 #11
    Farm Subsidies


    Also remember that countries like the U.S. subsidize their farmers making U.S. exports cheaper than a lot of third world countries own production. Mexico is a good example of this they import 25% of their corn from the U.S. putting their own farmers out of work and wrecking their economy. So what happens when the oil stops and so does all the support from 1st world countries? They will be in a much worse position than a 1st world country which has spent money to build non-oil resources like Nuclear power.

    Some third world countries wouldn't even be stable without 1st world dollars supporting manufacturing and exportation, and would probally collapse. These countries in particular would be in a very poor position since the population that used to grow crops, now lives in the city or slums. All third world countries are seeing an increase from rural living to city living as large agricultural firms buy up the land and force small farms out of business.
  13. Feb 14, 2004 #12
    The premise of the problem was that all the oil is gone. There is no reserve for a transition.
    No oil means all crop growing stops beyond back yard garden or small family hand worked farm scale. These crops are constantly raided by starving people who come in from water-poor areas where they can't grow their own.

    With no oil there is no transportation or communication. At first the government might try to deploy troops on foot to maintain order. There is only so much area they can cover. Eventually they use up all their bullets defending themselves against bands of citizens trying to get at their military rations.
    The government loses its ability to keep people in line till any transition to an alternate energy substitute can be made.

    I think you'd end up with a "Mad Max" kind of world with roving bands of raiders preying on any pockets of stability that were able to form. There would be alot of cannibalism. Most people would die. Our grandchildren would be born into a world that was a cross between modern street gangs and pre-Columbian native american bands.
  14. Feb 14, 2004 #13
    Not True

    Not true,

    We were growing large crops before we had an oil economy, besides we already have enough non-crude oils and alternative powers to make a transistion without crude oils.
  15. Feb 14, 2004 #14
    I agree with you that third world countries will suffer also as a result. But I also envisage that first world countries would decline much faster with the onset of civil unrest as a result of the exponential increase in the divide between the have and the have nots. Most of the world would see America as their salvation. How do you plan to stop 1 to 2 billion people from taking you over? Also Americas economy largely depends on trade, if the rest of the world is up **** creek do you then suggest America will thrive alone?
  16. Feb 14, 2004 #15
    What economy?


    You are right economy depends on trade, however, America is large enough to trade within itself. There would have to be major changes in government and of course social changes. And the economy would have to be put in a holding patern. It would take time, but it is solvable. By the way America is fairly isolated, where are the 1-2 billion people coming from?
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2004
  17. Feb 14, 2004 #16
    Re: Not True

    Farmers do not keep old fashioned ox-drawn plows around just in case. Those who figured out how to rig them up would only be able to produce a small fraction of the crops they could with modern machinery. All farms now dependent on piped-in water supplies would go under immediately. Whatever crops anyone managed to grow would be raided by masses of near-starved people.
  18. Feb 14, 2004 #17
    You guys just want chaos!

    I think you guys just want fire, death, and chaos. :wink:
  19. Feb 14, 2004 #18
    100 million hot air balloons? I have changed my mind. If the first world were in trouble then they could no longer support the third world through aid or food donations (as you alluded to LRDmora). Hundreds of millions or billions would starve and die leaving most of the third world countries desimated. My mistake was that third world countries fend for themselves mostly but his may not be the case?
  20. Feb 14, 2004 #19
    Do you know any farmers?


    Farmers are very resourceful, and you wouldn't have to have ox drawn plows, you could just convert a regular disc.

    The water supply is not dependent on oil in America, most of it is in reservations and dished out by water pressure. Some places like California which has a huge irrigation channel and will need to power their water pumps by corn fuel and lubricate with lithuim or plant oils. But still doable.
  21. Feb 14, 2004 #20
    What people?


    What starving people? America has huge reserves of food. Enough at least to make the transistion.
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