Arithmetic, Population, and Energy - by Albert A. Bartlett - Fascinating yet simple illustration of why continued growth (of the population, of oil consumption, etc.) cannot go on forever. Intuitively, that much is obvious. Not so obvious is how near impossible it is for us (as a society) to recognize when we've gone too far, when our resources have been consumed to the point that it's too late to do anything about it.

The reason it's hard to recognize that point has everything to do with the simple yet profound implications of how compounding growth rates behave. Compounding growth rates are our friend when receiving interest. Compounding growth rates are our enemy when it comes to consumption and population growth.

This third video of the series carries a devastating message. The core problem of our unsustainable economy is the rate of population growth and the rate of resource consumption. When we think about China and India and their impact on global consumption in the coming years, it's essential to remember that what brought us to this point was U.S. consumption.

"Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?"
~ Albert A. Bartlett

No, but more people means (potentially) more ideas. More ideas means (potentially) more solutions to whatever problems we face...though in this case, all those extra minds may come to the same conclusion -- that we need to reduce our population growth (to zero?) if we are to continue to thrive as a species.

If all the insects on earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on earth would disappear. If all humans disappeared, within 50 years all species would flourish as never before.
~ Jonas Salk

The Essential Exponential! - For the Future of Our Planet
by Albert A. Bartlett

Related Posts