[LINK] Exponential growth [was Microsoft is dead ... were it so!]
Alan L Tyree
alan at austlii.edu.au
Fri Apr 13 10:42:53 EST 2007
On Fri, 13 Apr 2007 10:03:40 +1000
"jim birch" <planetjim at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 13/04/07, Alan L Tyree <alan at austlii.edu.au> wrote:
> > Precisely. When faced with a very difficult problem, humans used
> > their strongest resource: intelligence, science, technology,
> > 'engineering' in the very broadest sense. They prevented what
> > Erlich said could not be prevented.
> Then again, this oft-quoted example of the failure of predicted
> disasters to eventuate should be weighed up against predicted
> disasters that were just allowed to occur, eg, Iraq, New Orleans.
> And, of course, there's unpredicted disasters. It's a mixed bag.
> One of the main ways people cope with predicted negatives is doing
> very little and regarding it as more-or-less normal when it happens,
> eg urban air quality. Sure the predictions can't really take the
> potential for creative human solutions into account, but neither is
> it circumspect to assume future technology must be able handle it.
> It might, and it mightn't.
> A key distinguishing feature of the green revolution was that it was
> an unusual all round win-win-win situation. Plant scientists like
> creating better plants, agencies loved pumping it along, farmers
> wanted better yeilds, and hungry mouths ate it up happily. Everyone
> else could feel good about it. And no one was being too proprietary
> about it back in those days. In comparison, handling global warming
> is likely to have significant costs and is meeting real resistance.
> Maybe someone will invent a CO2 gobbler that produces a new cheap
> building material and clean electricity, maybe not.
It's a good point. CO2 gobblers are easy - the much maligned Australian
initiative on savine/replanting Asian forests is not a bad start.
On the food/population problem, Norman Borlaug himself (the "father" of
the Green Revolution) has some penetrating and not-always-optimistic
Although it is easy to assume that population growth is exponential, it
clearly cannot be. And it isn't. Prosperity has had the (almost)
universal effect of reducing population growth. For obvious reasons:
children cease to be an economic benefit and become and economic burden.
Your are right to say that the technology might fail. How do you rate
the chances of those who are putting their faith in human nature?
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