[FoRK] Chart of the Day...
frankpdx at gmail.com
Fri Jun 11 01:20:24 PDT 2010
Thomas Malthus was screaming the sky was falling two hundred years ago:
I cannot help but think of Ecclesiastes 1
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the
earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place
where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it
whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the
place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not
satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is
done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath
been already of old time, which was before us.
There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any
remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come
You should look into some of the insane post Summer of Love texts that
were around in the 70s like "The Late Great Planet Earth."
The world has been ending due to exponential growth for thousands of
years and we will all die next Tuesday.
BTW, we are not all guilty if we do not all procreate.
On Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 12:30 AM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
> Begs a much longer response than I have the patience to peck out on a phone.
> I'll merely address one (set of) glaring yet highly illustrative error(s).
> On Jun 10, 2010, at 21:04, "Stephen D. Williams" <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> Some are recognizable, some are not. Many things today would amaze
>> everyone who ever lived before the last 10, 20, 40, or 80 years. Still,
>> things like food, plumbing, entertainment, comfortable living quarters
> Two bits.
> First, notice how that subjective weasel-word creeps in... "comfort."
> I daresay most folks on this list wouldn't be remotely "comfortable" in
> living conditions that were quite common here in the U.S. even two
> generations ago, much less a "couple hundred" years... I know I would not
> (be comfortable in said conditions.)
> Which leads me to the money shot...
>> have been pretty constant for the last couple hundred years.
> Bzzt. My paternal grandmother was born in 1898. She didn't have indoor
> plumbing until she was married, and her family was semi-wealthy in the
> community in which she lived in small-town Illinois. Separate and
> well-appointed his-and-hers outhouses, a private hand-pump well, etc. They
> had electric lighting before they had running city water in the house.
> My maternal grandfather was born in 1925. He wasn't as lucky; though 27
> years younger than my paternal grandmother, he grew up quite poor. He
> didn't have indoor plumbing until he was a teenager.
> And I doubt those Texas summers he grew up in were very "comfortable" by our
> effete standards without air conditioning. If I recall correctly, the first
> AC he had was a "swamp cooler" in the house he bought after coming back from
> (the tail end of) WWII.
> Notice the timeframes; not nearly "couple hundred years."
> Notice the difference the economic strata made.
> Hell, the *Romans* had indoor plumbing. That doesn't mean it was
> commonplace in the general global standard of living; that's more recent
> than we seem to be able to recall in our "comfortable" Western modernity.
> Or forget history. (Well, clearly we already have.) Even AT PRESENT many of
> your "standards" would be considered luxuries by a large part of the world's
> If it's any consolation, the tendency to define such arbitrary, subjective
> standards for others yet abysmally fail to do anything to provide them to
> those who really need them has a long and storied history in "enlightened"
> liberal (meaning governmentalism and other forms of well-meaning social
> engineering and its rationalization, not the classical kind) traditions. If
> it weren't so, vast swaths of two continents wouldn't live below that
> elusive "poverty" line today.
> It's such a culturally myopic, snobbish, self-centered thing, really.
> "Oh, look at those poor people. No (insert arbitrary thing here) to their
> name. Whatever shall we do about it?"
> (Wring hands ineffectively and cluck to ourselves, then go on about our
> business; or pontificate endlessly, occassionally spawning a memetic plague
> like fascism or socialism...)
> You want to be a do-gooder, Stephen? Go DO something, then. There are
> people in your community that need houses. Go build a few. With your own
> I did, though admittedly a longish time ago and for selfish reasons (e.g.,
> "handiness therapy." ;-)
> Your local Habitat group should be easy to find.
> (But don't. Read on. We have Bigger Plans for You....;-)
>> Add magical medical care, the Internet, supercomputers in your pocket (the
>> HTC Evo is about the speed of a Cray 1 I believe), cable / satellite TV,
>> etc. and you have a baseline that will recognizable for a while.
> Given your apparent inability to recall anything but the best of even recent
> history, why should we have any faith in your peculiarly static, normative
> view of the future?
> I GUARANTEE you that "baseline" will, by the end of your
> presently-extrapolated lifespan, either be VASTLY above that or perhaps
> somewhat less vastly below it (and falling.) What it *won't* be is anything
> as remotely similar to what we think of today as essential as what you've
> We --- and by we I mean you, Stephen --- fail to grasp the magnitude of the
> changes in living standards that have occurred even in the lifetimes of
> people alive today. As illustrated. How can you possibly extrapolate the
> curve forwards?
> It would be a major coup if we could merely feed everbody adequately
> today... And that's not likely to get easier tomorrow without some
> breakthroughs in energy, etc. --- which we may no longer be able to invest
> in sufficiently before it's too late.
> IFF progress continues and accelerating returns hold, all the current
> hand-wringing and armchair-social engineering is moot. The future will
> invent itself, and today's problems disappear. (One way or another, whether
> we like the outcome or not.)
> If accelerating returns do not hold, no amount of social engineering can
> maintain civilization at the present size and living standard given
> available resources and technology we *know* is attainable. Exponential
> growth coupled with even static standards of living, in an environment of
> finite resources, is unsustainable. Period.
> Or put slightly more bluntly: exponential growth of any kind is
> unsustainable. Period. It's a mathematical truism.
> Better figure out how to keep those accelerating returns going a bit longer.
> (I mean that literally: ANY effort spent on ANYTHING other than
> perpetuating the growth curve, by ANYONE who actually *could* contribute to
> its continuation, is not only a Bostromesque "astronomical waste" ---it's
> also an existential menace. I may have arrived late to that conclusion, but
> I do hold it to be true. You admittedly might have to squint to see that in
> some of my positions, statements, etc. from time to time... But it's there.
> Btw, none of this is really meant as an attack on you personally, Stephen.
> I'm just using you as a whipping boy.
> We are all guilty.
> Mea maxima culpa.
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