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Heinz von Foerster published an article on world population in Science
magazine in 1960, 8 years before Paul Ehrlich's book The Population
Bomb.  It generated a VERY entertaining exchange of letters in
Science.  See
http://www.gwu.edu/~umpleby/world_population/index.html
Currently world population is growing at about 80 million a year.  The
Economist recently had a cover story saying that growth rates are
declining rapidly.
Heinz's point was that about 2026 will be a time of instability in the
relationship between human beings and the environment.  According to
the World 3 model from the Club of Rome (1972), about 2025 will mark a
transition from rising to falling world population.  I have heard
people in Washington, DC, say that the Club of Rome models are invalid
because their predictions did not come true, but the turning point is
still 15 years (approximately) in the future.  I think the models have
held up pretty well.

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 5:14 PM, Frank Wood <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi Nick,
> someone whose name I can't remember has had his writings on overpopulation
> revived and people now are listening to him.
> Birth *rate* might be declining but unfortunately that the population is
> still rising. And the means more and more resources being used up and if you
> subscribe to the greenhouse gas stuff then that means more humans emitting
> co2 more livestock to feed those humans which means more methane being
> produced and so on. It doesn't seem that those authorities have keyed the
> above factors in.
> Frank
> On 25 Nov 2009, at 20:57, Nick Green wrote:
>
> Hi Russell, Doug, Frank
>
> Well happy birthday to CSIRAC. Of course joules per bit were enormous then
> and we are working on the single electron transistor .i.e everyone is
> working on low power if only because batteries cannot improve much and
> everybody wants long life viable mobile devices.
> On population people are saying that birth rate decline is pretty well
> universal but freedom of choice in this is denied by the Pope and Muslims
> which is certainly not politically correct. As it happens nobody, even the
> devotees, pays much attention to them on this but there is an
> unsustainable fuss about it. Note also some authorities are comfortable with
> a world population of 1000 billion. We don't all live in Japan or London -
> recall Marchetti "A check on the earth-carrying capacity for man"- given out
> at Cwarel Isaf 2? Didn't somebody once say we could all live on the Isle of
> Wight if suitably packed?
>
> On Enron, Doug check out SuperFreakonomics- apparently they were open about
> what they were doing within financial reporting laws anyway. The Big Six
> auditors are right - nobody understands company accounts. Lay's 25 year
> sentence in high security (i.e. vicious prison) seems excessive to Levitt
> and Dubner.
>
> But take this on board. CO2 has had a bad rap. It's regarded as a poison.
> It's not: it's the basis of all the food we eat. So eat more and save the
> planet? Water and clouds are far more influential on climate and your own
> CSIRO sustainability group  found a small increase in cloud cover would put
> climate back in recent range. On air conditioning hmm- there are better
> ways....
>
> Trouble is we don't understand cloud homeostasis. Recently CSIRO reported
> aerobacter aerogenes (a bacterium from tree leaves) might be important in
> seeding clouds for rain.
>
> But you are right Russell this is nothing to do with Friedman's  The Next
> 100 Years. No climate wars just trade wars and the superstitions of the poor
> exploited by a frightened risk averse elite. There may be many faults in his
> approach one is that he doesn't factor in improved education and
> control from the web (where luck is not the product of propitiating the Gods
> but measuring the variance) or improved (democratic) accountability. Also in
> the robotized wars Friedman forecasts (Turkey vs Poland, Japan vs America)
> casualties will not be high.  Fanciful maybe, fascinating certainly but we
> must consider possible scenarios. Homeostasis is a stern mistress and, says
> Pask, because of the circular nature causality cannot be proved. A naive
> science reduces us to superstition but at least we get a familiarity with
> the tools of good science.
>
> Best
>
> N.
>
>
> From: Frank Wood
> Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 6:56 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: The Next 100 Years (CSIRAC)
> Not to mention that overpopulation is and will be a major cause of
> environmental degradation.  But of course it's non PC to talk about
> population control.
> Frank
> On 25 Nov 2009, at 12:00, russell_c wrote:
>
> Nick
>
> I'm not sure this is on topic, but this CSIRAC story (below) came through
> today and caused me to reflect on a comment (by Staford I think?) that "they
> will find the cause" to a major US power outage (a $2.50 relay?).
>
> Why are we blaming climate change causes on CO2 when the energy increases
> have a lot to do with the complexities related to power station upgrades
> needed for PC proliferation, building air-conditioning capacity increases,
> flat plasma screens and additional housing demand due to family break down
> etc.
>
> In respect to heat and power production -- are there any estimates of the
> energy generation involved in the growth of ICT and Internet over the 60
> years from when this machine came to be? (there is a picture with the story)
>
> Is this technology phenomena equally the cause of climate change and can it
> be somehow statistically correlated to CO2 increases?
>
> Russell
>
> Australia's first 'iPod' marks 60th birthday
>
> "The CSIRAC - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation
> Automatic Computer - is housed in the state's museum and has today been
> granted heritage listing as part of its birthday celebrations.
>
> It is the first computer ever to be made in Australia; the fourth computer
> ever to be made in the world; and the only first generation computer that
> remains intact. . . ."
>
> http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/11/25/2752781.htm
>
>
> [snip]
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-- 
Stuart Umpleby, Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning
2033 K Street NW, Suite 230, The George Washington University,
Washington, DC 20052
www.gwu.edu/~umpleby, tel. 202-994-1642, fax 202-994-5284

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