The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 January 2005

Squeeze play

Someone set us up the population bomb, said Paul Ehrlich, and Jared Diamond is apparently going to ride it like Slim Pickens out of a B-52.

Bigwig points out a possibly-fundamental flaw:

Given population growth, deforestation, soil erosion, oil consumption, and diminishing biodiversity, Diamond declares, ''our world society is presently on an unsustainable course.''

Ehrlich's mistake, the same one that every prophet of doom has fallen into since academic doom saying was popularized by Thomas Malthus, was that he took a single current trend, in this the rate of population growth in the 1960's, and extrapolated it into the future, while at the same time assuming that, not only would nothing else change, but that the rate of population growth itself was a constant. As it turns out, it wasn't.

Here's a prediction, using the same kind of logic. Last Thursday, the temperature was 80 degrees outside. Today, it's 20. Given the current rate of change, the temperature will reach absolute zero sometime on March 8th. Better wrap up!

Climate-change (formerly known as "global-warming") buffs will note that 540 degrees Fahrenheit over seven weeks doesn't count; it's 0.54 degrees over seventy years that matters.

Posted at 6:32 AM to Dyssynergy