Facing America’s Population Challenge – Dr. Albert Bartlett

    By Frosty Wooldridge | 18 June 2014
    Church and State

    “If I could assemble the leaders of the world in a room,” said the late Dr. Albert A. Bartlett.

    I personally befriended Al Bartlett for over 30 years ago as I lived and taught math-science in Boulder, Colorado. He proved himself years ahead of everyone in the world on the population issue while he supported Ehrlich and Malthus. Their work pinpointed human population as the ultimate predicament of humanity.

    Dr. Bartlett jumped light years ahead by scientifically showing audiences with his wicked wit that humans “populated” themselves into a “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” future. His presentation transfixed audiences. Why? They couldn’t escape the sheer mathematical logic: exponential growth cannot be sustained by this single planet.

    Dr. Bartlett created a brilliant slide show that educated over 1,600 audiences in 35 years: “Arithmetic, Population and Energy” You may watch it at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_VpyoAXpA8

    “Sustainability has become a key word in our society these days,” said Bartlett. “By its very definition, sustainability has to mean for a period of time that is long compared to a human lifetime. The trouble is that if you look around you, you don’t see a very good general understanding or practice of the concept of sustainability. Many influential people are confused and think that you can have growth and sustainability or “sustainable growth”. What the heck is going on? The first thing is that in no way, repeat, no way, is any world leader ever seen reciting the Laws of Sustainability, let alone putting them into practice.”

    Dr. Bartlett referred to anyone who preached endless growth as “innumerates” or as he said, “Innumeracy is the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy.” The famous economist Julian Simon proved himself an extreme “innumerate.” He flat couldn’t grasp the reality of a finite planet.

    One of Dr. Bartlett’s academic friends at the University of Colorado, economist Kenneth Boulding said, “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either a madman or an economist.”

    Dr. Bartlett took his brilliant slide show to Washington DC to present it to an audience of Congressional leaders. Ironically, they passed the 1965 Immigration Reform Act that proceeded to flood the country with 1.1 million immigrants annually in spite of the fact that Americans chose 2.1 children per family. Result: within 40 years the United States exploded from 194 million people to over 300 million. In 2014: 319,000,000 (million). Projections show America adding another 138 million within 36 years while it heads toward 625 million in this century.

    Clearly, America’s leadership stands in the “innumerate” category. But so do most of the American people; they reflect the lack of mathematical understanding of their leaders.

    Dr. Bartlett said, “The two simple basic Laws of Sustainability, and how to put them into practice, are not taught. The first Law is that population growth is unsustainable. The second Law is that no one can sustain growth in the consumption of resources forever. The Earth has a finite size and finite resources. These are laws of nature and they are based on arithmetic. They are not debatable. They cannot be amended or repealed by legislative bodies. Any arguments against these truths of nature are, as Shakespeare said, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    So, here America stands at the beginning of the 21st century importing 7 out of 10 barrels of oil, no conservation plan whatsoever, and exploding its fossil fuel burning into the biosphere. We scavenge and frack the land and water for more oil. All the while, we continue volatile population growth while we acidify and heat up the oceans.

    When you see the Dr. Bartlett’s slide show in person and then, you see it in action around the planet like I have: result? I am sick to my stomach daily as to where our species drives itself—over a demographic and ecological cliff.

    Dr. Bartlett presented the finest challenge to America and the world:

    “This is my challenge to you: Can you think of any problem, on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way, aided, assisted, or advanced, by having larger populations at the local level, the state level, the national level, or globally?”

    And yet, America charges to its worst demographic conclusion with all the hints, all the science and all the common sense Dr. Bartlett brought to the world with his brilliant mind, his incredible heart and his wicked, wicked humor.

    If Dr. Bartlett could have assembled the leaders of the world in a room, his message: “Lead humanity away from its current path toward a catastrophic future and move yourselves and your countries toward a sustainable future via birth control, family planning, stabilized populations, gracefully decline human population to dramatically lower levels such as much less than 1 billion, (Dr. Jack Alpert figures less than 100,000,000 (million) if we hope to continue viably: www.skil.org), deletion of fossil fuel burning and preservation of the natural world as your top priority if our species hopes to survive the 21st century.”

    Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com

    Al Bartlett – Democracy Cannot Survive Overpopulation

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    1. I know that Bartlett had 4 daughters before he became aware of the population issue. So I’m curious: how many grandchildren did his daughters give him? I’m in the same age group as his children and did not reproduce by choice. Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” made a deep impact on me at the age of 15. Did Bartlett’s message make an equally powerful impression on his family?


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