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Arithmetic, Population, and Energy
Al Bartlett   Aug 27, 2011  

Professor Al Bartlett has given his celebrated one hour lecture —  “Arithmetic, Population and Energy: Sustainability 101” — over 1,600 times to audiences with an average attendance of 80 in the United States and worldwide. This is part 1 of 8. See the rest here.

Malthus should have such videos.

The problem I see is that we aren't persuing the constant growth rate of energy sources in different forms, such as solar efficiency, space based solar power, etc.

I was more then a little annoyed by his arguments from fictional evidence, as the outcomes of the scenarios he presented.

He's clearly never heard of buildings with more then one story, or considered how increases in efficency if encouraged could make the same case for expanding prosperity.
The main problem with Professor Al Bartlett's well-meant presentation is that he ignores that solutions can grow exponentially as well as problems. And as economist Julian Simon suggested, the more people, the more innovation (which also is an answer to the question Prof. Bartlett raises at the end of his full presentation). The original Club of Rome projections about doom from resource use growth make the same sort of basic mistake.

For example, Mark Little, the director of research at GE, predicts PV solar energy may be cheaper that fossil fuels and mainstream nuclear by 2015. That's what you get when you have a lot of people thinking about a resource issue -- innovation. If you look at the exponential growth of solar energy the last three decades, and project it forward, by about 2030 the world will be 100% solar powered (Ray Kurzweil talks about this). We probably won't do exactly that (we may have fusion, advanced nuclear, and other alternative energy in the mix), but it is an example of how solutions can sometimes grow exponentially even faster than problems.

And as long as you have a lot of energy, essentially every other resource is recyclable or producible. Further, we can also expand into space, where there are enough resources to build space habitats for quadrillions of people. The main problem in industrialized countries like Italy or even the USA is actually that non-immigrants have a less than replacement birth rate. So, the main problem of industrialization in that sense is not overpopulation but the need for more support for parents and encouragement of big families.
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