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Decent Lecture
Old 12-09-2007, 09:09 AM   #1
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Decent Lecture

A bit dated, but found it interesting (about an hour). It focuses on our culture's assumption of continued growth...

part 1
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Old 12-09-2007, 11:12 AM   #2
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Very well presented and entertaining. Unfortunately I think most people will quit watching it in the first segment, when it seems to be mostly about mathematics.
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Old 12-09-2007, 01:33 PM   #3
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What are the headlines on it - I don't know if I want to wade through all of them.
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Old 12-09-2007, 02:47 PM   #4
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Here are some of the highlights:

1. Most people don't understand the concept of exponential growth (e.g. compounding), so that they don't realize how even modest population growth rates, if constant over time, will lead to overpopulation.

2. Analogy: put one bacterium in a bottle, such that the population doubles every minute, and the bottle will be full at 12:00 PM. The bottle will be half full at 11:59 PM. Even at 11:58 PM, the bottle will only be one-quarter full, and the bacteria wouldn't "realize" the problem. But let's say they did realize it, and they send out explorers who locate three more empty bottles. That will only gain them two extra minutes. Point being: you can't solve the problem by locating new resources, you have to solve it by eliminating growth.

3. Zero population growth is going to happen, whether we like it or not, because the population cannot continue to grow indefinitely.

4. The following table shows two columns.

Optionns.jpg

The one on the left shows the things that we could do to raise population, and make the problem worse. Everything on that side is "as sacred as motherhood." On the right side are things that would make the problem better. If we don't do anything, "Nature is going to choose from things on the right hand side, since zero population growth is going to happen." Educating people about this problem is the easiest solution. If we don't choose family planning, nature will choose one of the other options.

5. Coal and oil are running out. Predictions that there is plenty left don't factor in increases in population and increases in consumption. We know a lot about how to predict the remaining supply, yet many expert and journalistic announcments are off by a factor of 100 or more.
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:03 PM   #5
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Excellent summary Al. What I took away from the videos is the dilemma facing societies that model their planning, governments, taxes, pensions, and way of life on continued population and economic growth...believing it is sustainable. Even the porfolios of most if not all of us here depend on increasing growth. The question is...when will it end, how fast will it decline, and how will it impact you?
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:04 PM   #6
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Thanks Al,
A lot of links for such basic info.
As I've said before the major global warming issue (if an issue) is population growth - 10 billion by 2050.
Also, I've had a let down over zombie movies and it has to do with compound growth. It would take less than 35 days for everyone in the world to become a zombie.
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Old 12-09-2007, 05:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
A lot of links for such basic info.
Well, those were just the highlights. I enjoyed the video, and found the professor entertaining for that might be considered a dry topic. Thanks for the post, KJ.
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Old 12-09-2007, 05:54 PM   #8
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I watched al 8 of them, and think they are excellent. It will be interesting to see how many on the board will devote the time to watching them, and what their reactions will be to what they have seen and heard.

As Mencken said (quoted near end of video 8): "It is the nature of the human species to reject what is true but unpleasant and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting."

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Old 12-09-2007, 06:15 PM   #9
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Thanks Al for the summary. I didn't realize the links were about population growth, until I read your summary. I was thinking more along the lines of shorter-term economic growth. Not a new message to me, i wonder if they propose any time line. I will definately try to watch them.
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Old 12-09-2007, 08:20 PM   #10
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3. Zero population growth is going to happen, whether we like it or not, because the population cannot continue to grow indefinitely.
for zero population growth to occur you will first have to dethrone the pope. good luck.
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Old 12-09-2007, 08:41 PM   #11
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Listened to all 8 segments - nothing much has changed since 1974 - funny as a rubber crutch.

Boulder paper - 'circa 1974 - now that we're here, lets shut the gate and keep everybody else out.' Population solution.

1974 - LA and Denver smog are equal in intensity on some winter days.

I see they haven't figured out the relationship between arithmetic and Adam Smith's 'invisible hand'/public good. Blind fool had the solution figured out on his oil graph and could not see it.

He needs to reread Moby Dick and check the current price of whale oil.

He made some good points - the price of Vail Lift tickets in 74 was going to $14 - my choice switch to cross country or New Orleans - I agile , mobile, and not too hostile went south.

The bad news - if he's even partially right is to study Easter Island and the History of the Bird Man Cult.

heh heh heh - Asimov and the bathroom story - reminds me of Apollo 8 and Earth rise over the Moon circa 1968. Paradox - rich people have less kids so make everyone rich to stop population - except rich people use more resources - they need to poop organically in composting toilets.
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Old 12-09-2007, 10:02 PM   #12
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Thanks kjpliny for the links, and T-Al for the summary - I will plan to watch them.

One very pragmatic view is to just see this as a self-correcting problem. We can't actually have 'overpopulation', by definition.

Name one animal, plant, or bacteria that has not already reproduced to whatever the sustainable level is for that life-form. It's nature's way.

If more bears could survive in Wyoming, there would be more bears there. If more oak trees could compete against all the other plants for resources, there would be more oak trees, etc, etc.

Quote:
5. Coal and oil are running out. Predictions that there is plenty left don't factor in increases in population and increases in consumption.
Good example - self limiting. If cheap oil helps drive population expansion, then running out of oil will slow population expansion - problem solved! Or some other energy source is developed, and everything is fine until we hit the next limited resource...

Humans are always going to push the limits, we have since we ventured out of caves. What would stop us? It seems the only alternative is some self-selected group of people deciding who reproduces and when. Try telling some group they don't get a vote. That could get ugly.

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Old 12-09-2007, 10:56 PM   #13
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Thanks kjpliny and T-Al.

I find the topic of overpopulation depressing and by far the hardest of all of mankind's problems to dwell on with any since of optimism. It does seem like the only solution will be nature (disease, starvation) or human nature (war) stomping a few billion folks away.........

One tiny ray of hope that shines through is that the Chinese mandate of one child per family, while problamatic, does seem to be changing the shape of their growth curve. Maybe other governments will take a look and follow along?
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Old 12-10-2007, 12:01 AM   #14
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Geometric growth and overpopulation topic got me wondering whatever happened to Malthus. Found opposing points of view discussed in a wiki article. Found Henry George's quote quite thought-provoking:

"Some 19th-century economists believed that improvements in the division and specialization of labor, increased capital investment, and other factors had rendered some of Malthus's warnings implausible. In the absence of any improvement in technology or increase of capital equipment, an increased supply of labor may have a synergistic effect on productivity that overcomes the law of diminishing returns. As American land-economist Henry George observed with characteristic piquancy in dismissing Malthus: "Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens; but the more jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens."
Many 20th-century economists, such as Julian Lincoln Simon, have also criticised Malthus's conclusions. They note that despite the predictions of Malthus and the Neo-Malthusians, massive geometric population growth in the 20th century has not resulted in a Malthusian catastrophe, largely due to the influence of technological advances and the expansion of the market economy, division of labor, and stock of capital goods. The skeptical environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg, echoes such arguments."
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Old 12-10-2007, 12:07 AM   #15
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Thanks kjpliny and T-Al.

I find the topic of overpopulation depressing and by far the hardest of all of mankind's problems to dwell on with any since of optimism. It does seem like the only solution will be nature (disease, starvation) or human nature (war) stomping a few billion folks away.........

One tiny ray of hope that shines through is that the Chinese mandate of one child per family, while problamatic, does seem to be changing the shape of their growth curve. Maybe other governments will take a look and follow along?
Birthrates in the industrialized countries have fallen, and population growth has not kept pace with the geometric predictions.

Also, the "depressing" types of things do happen as well: Stalin's purges of millions, millions wiped out by the Kmer Rouge in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc. And then things like AIDS in Africa. Not to mention high mortality rates of infants and children in some parts of the world. Or the much lower average life expectancies in many countries compared to industrialized nations.
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Old 12-10-2007, 01:45 AM   #16
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Geometric growth and overpopulation topic got me wondering whatever happened to Malthus.
He died, 1834.

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Old 12-10-2007, 04:16 AM   #17
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He died, 1834.
Well, that's one less.
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:37 AM   #18
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One very pragmatic view is to just see this as a self-correcting problem.
It's true, and as the video says, zero population growth will happen no matter what. But the quality of life at that point will be much lower than it would be if something intelligent were done.

In other words, we can choose to limit growth by reproducing less, or growth will be self-corrected through disease, war, murder, famine, and pollution.

However, I've come to see that although reproducing less is a no-brainer for me, apparently it's a political/religious hot-button issue that no one will touch.
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:43 AM   #19
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Actually - the use of simple math to puncture B.S. - is great.

It's just that his conclusions/as to what is implied have a tendency to groove familar.

Soooo - The planet Earth as Easter Island or Soylent Green or ---- everybody a rich DINK - okie dokie maybe one Chinese Princess!

heh heh heh - students are captive audiences (UW, Seattle, early 60's) - I had some Aussie prof (Far East elective) who thought the John Birch Society cats were way too liberal - but 'the China Trade myth' was still alive and well. Numbers have their own form of 'cool' - the conclusions get weird sometimes. And no - I ain't going out to shovel snow - I'm ER'd. Let it sit.
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:46 AM   #20
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Haven't watched it yet, but I will.

One note about zero pop growth...it will come relatively soon if we are limited to earth. But, colonizing other planets, though it doesn't seem likely before zpg must hit, could delay this for quite some time. I'm not at all advocating drying up our planet and assuming we'll find resources somewhere else, I'm just sayin'...
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