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While I was failing to fall asleep at two o’clock this morning, my mind turned to solving one of the more difficult questions that face humanity — vampire metabolism and the optimum human-to-vampire conversion rate to ensure a continuing supply of fresh blood. In short, sustainability for the blood-sucking undead.
I’m certain this problem has been discussed many times in novels and academic journals and at learned conferences, but I wasn’t going to get out of bed at aforesaid small hour and fire up the computer to check. Of course, the more I contemplated this issue, the less sleepy I became. Anyway, my conclusion was this — unless vampires exert some sort of control over their rates of population increase and resource utilisation, they will become extinct very quickly.
Exactly how quickly, I’m not sure. I don’t know how often yer average vampire feeds or how much blood it consumes in one sitting. That some (all?) vampires are capable of going into a type of diapause, occasionally for centuries, would affect a population’s annual consumption rate. ‘Plague’ years, in which some meddling kid/reporter/high school student inadvertently reanimates an entire swarm will also have a dramatic impact on the figures. There’s a lot to consider here.
And what about the epidemiology of vampirism? Can vampires control the transmission of vampiric tendencies in the way that snakes can deliver venom-free bites? I’d hope so, because a lone vampire infecting only one other human per month will give rise to almost 4,100 vampires in a year and well over 16,000,000 in two. (W, how's my maths?) That’s assuming no staking, no beheading and no exposure to sunlight during the same period.
Which brings me to another issue — rates of...er...removal from the population. Non-vampires seem to be really rather inefficient at it, only dealing with one or two at a time. Even mass culls are not particularly effective. Blowing up an entire town might seem like a good idea, but who’s going to pay to rebuild it? And what about all that potential income lost to a region, especially a rural one? Good grief, some places are suffering enough without having half of the infrastructure wiped from the map by over-zealous vampire hunters. But the economics of vampirism is a conundrum for another sleepy night. One thing at a time.
So here’s the deal, vampires: 1) welcome to the blog; 2) I hope you weren’t offended by the previous paragraph; and 3) you have got to think this through. There are solutions. For example, members of the Überwald League of Temperance (‘Live not in vein’) have abandoned human blood and get their sustenance from other sources. But they live on the Discworld — world and mirror of worlds — where different rules apply. And let’s face it, here on Earth, vampires survive on human blood and it is unreasonable to expect significant dietary change in the short term. (And don’t give me any of that vapid so-called vegetarian malarkey. If I see any porcelain-skinned windswept-and-not-terribly-interesting types shimmering in the daylight and sipping on mouse-blood cocktails, they are going to get pinned to the wall with a star picket. Who’s with me?) The most practical solutions — according to my 2 a.m. brain — are a lower human-to-vampire conversion rate (be exclusive: Count Dracula rather than the Cullens) and nixing the near-immortality thing. Not dying is going to kill you for sure.
Anyway, those were my conclusions. I think, in the future, if I can't sleep I should just stick to counting sheep.