Arithmetic, population and energy (Albert Bartlett)

Professor Al Bartlett begins his one-hour talk with the statement, “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” He then gives a basic introduction to the arithmetic of steady growth, including an explanation of the concept of doubling time. He explains the impact of unending steady growth on the population of Boulder, of Colorado, and of the world. He then examines the consequences steady growth in a finite environment and observes this growth as applied to fossil fuel consumption, the lifetimes of which are much shorter than the optimistic figures most often quoted. See also: Legend of the chessboard (IBM’s Mathematics Peepshow).

 

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