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Interview with Albert Bartlett on C-Realm

I've just posted a transcript of my second interview with Professor Albert Bartlett over on the C-Realm blog. Here's an excerpt:

People believe that somehow technology is going to save us. Technology is the main thing that has gotten us into this problem. Because the main effect of technology is to allow population to continue to grow. And as long as the populations continue to grow, the problems get worse.

And I think we should remember Eric Sevareid's law. Eric Sevareid... observed that the main source of problems is solutions. So in everything we do, we are trying to solve problems. Most of the problems we are trying to solve are caused by population growth. And a problem is anything that inhibits population growth, so solving a problem involves removing the inhibition. So what we have done then is open the door to even more population growth. And I am particularly critical of the business of urban planning, because urban planning is just making everything worse. And you can say "smart growth" and things like this. Well I like to point out that smart growth destroys the environment. Dumb growth destroys the environment. Now, smart growth destroys the environment in good taste, so it is a little like buying a ticket on the Titanic. If you are smart you go first class, if you are dumb you go steerage, but either way the result is about the same.


You can read the entire interview here: http://c-realm.blogspot.com/2008/12/kmo-interview-with-albert-bartlett.html

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 29th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Furthermore, there's a closer link between education and population than technology and population.
kmo
Dec. 29th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
It's a long interview, I know...
and I'd certainly understand if you didn't have time to read or listen to the whole thing, but Professor Bartlett and I did cover that very topic pretty explicitly.

A presupposition of the idea that you've referenced is that enough energy and material resources remain to bring the Two-thirds World up to the living standard enjoyed by the richest nations on Earth. It's a tacit presupposition in most mainstream discourse (thought that's starting to change) but in C-Realm Podcast discussions it's an explicit and open question.

More than that, the question of whether enough resources (untapped fossil fuels, metals and minerals, water, viable topsoil) remain to allow the privileged First Worlders to continue in our our current lifestyle for much longer calls out for our attention.
(Deleted comment)
kmo
Dec. 29th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
Re: It's a long interview, I know...
One of the major recurring themes of the C-Realm Podcast involves the difference between "Standard of Living" and "Quality of Life." The former, when used by mainstream economists, think tank wonks, and government officials is a metric and does refer to quantifiable consumption. The latter is largely decoupled from material consumption once basic needs are met. Whereas the mainstream conversation about economics and consumption assumes that we should be looking for a path to "sustainable growth," (an oxymoron according to Albert Bartlett) I'm with Chris Martensen who says we should be looking to achieve "sustainable prosperity."

I don't have time to hunt up a link as I'm just about to head off to work, but my conversation with Cornelia Butler-Flora centers on this distinction. The title of that episode is "Quality of Life." I'll be posting the transcript of that one pretty soon.

Stay well.

ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 29th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Re: It's a long interview, I know...
We have more than enough energy available.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 29th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
Burgeoning global population contributes to our challenge, but is not the cause of it. The earth could support many times its current population, if there was an eye towards intelligent distribution and sustainability.

This guy's just espousing misanthropy and a twisted version of eugenics; neither of which are legitimate solutions, IMO.
toucansanctuary
Dec. 29th, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
I disagree with you....
Perhaps you should watch his lecture on Arithmetic, Population, and energy. You can see the lecture on Youtube. It's an eight part series and here's the link to the first one to get you going:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY

I truely hope that you can work through his principles in a logical manner. Bartlett has always solicited everyone and anyone to prove his calculations and processes wrong if he's made a mistake. His conclusion are drawn from a very logical and very easy to understand process. It's indisputable with logic. The only people who dispute it are those that frame their counter-arguments with unsupported claims and a blind faith in their position. That's exactly what I see from your posts. You've done nothing but spout comments as if they were facts and failed to provide any logical supporting documentation/calculations.

You can't have sustainablility with any kind of population growth because population growth is exponential. Period.

TS
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 29th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC)
Re: I disagree with you....
Population growth among mammals and most of the biosphere is not exponential. This is anachronistic, mechanistic thinking. Population growth does not occur in a vacuum.



It's indisputable with logic. The only people who dispute it are those that frame their counter-arguments with unsupported claims and a blind faith in their position.


If this was intended as hyperbole, it was poorly executed. If it was intended literally, you are mistaken.

"[Heavier]-than-air flying machines are impossible" - Lord Kelvin


"There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." - Albert Einstein


Saying that there's math behind it is all fine and well. Super, even. But far from indisputable. Lots of sexy math turns out to be bunk. Want an easy example? How many dimensions are included in orthodox M-theory these days?




That's exactly what I see from your posts. You've done nothing but spout comments as if they were facts and failed to provide any logical supporting documentation/calculations.


I didn't think that was a prerequisite to making a comment in a blog, but I'll keep it in mind - thanks for the suggestion. ;)

More seriously:

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." - Arthur C. Clarke


Population growth is not the problem. Unsustainable production, consumption and distribution patterns, are.

The earth could support many times the current population with intelligent distribution of resources. There's math to back that up, too. He may not be making podcast interviews, but the work of Bucky Fuller provides one of the more obvious refutations to this misanthropic delusion.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 29th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Re: I disagree with you....
One episode - a mere 9 minutes - into this 8 part series, and I was laughing hysterically. If you seriously think this argument is 'indisputable', I recommend you visit a dictionary:

indisputable: not questionable


That given, maybe you could name one 20th C. population group that has maintained static exponential growth patterns for more than 10 years?
kmo
Dec. 29th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
This guy's just espousing misanthropy and a twisted version of eugenics...

That's not the case. I don't think you read the interview, and that's way too sweeping a generalization to legitimately draw from a two paragraph excerpt.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Dec. 29th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
I did read the interview, and it substantiated my impression.

Population growth among mammals is not exponential. His claim that the present global population is unsustainable is based on more misinformed misanthropy. He's just adding a modern twist to eugenics - some can live, but some shouldn't. This type of thinking, in addition to being inhumane and ignorant, suffers from a lack of creativity.
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