Dad mentioned months ago that I should watch this video. It’s an hour long, and I was bit reluctant because the subject of the video is exponential functions. I tend to think that I’m reasonably well versed in exponential functions, so I took my time getting to the video. I was going to just send my response to Dad, but figured I’d share it for everyone in case anyone else has thoughts.
Is it, “the most important video you’ll ever see”? I doubt it. Chances are you either understand exponential functions already, or you’ll never understand them, and this video won’t change that.
There’s an underlying idea in this video that, “we need to do something about the population problem.” And I disagree with that statement. We needed to do something about the population problem in 1970. It’s now too late.
I think we’re done. I think all of the things that naturally limit population growth have already started happening. He mentions Japan in the video, and how anything less than a 3% economic growth rate was a recession for Japan. Japan hasn’t really hit a 3% growth rate since 1990 or so. I suspect they never will again. And I’m not sure we’ll ever get much better than that, either. Here’s some graphs of Japan:
There are all these doomsday predictions about what things will look like once we overpopulate some area, and I think they have a problem: there are natural pressures that are not well understood that start taking effect long before those doomsday scenarios.
I think we’re seeing the beginning of that. The U.S. population growth is declining (still a seriously positive 9% or so), but declining. The U.S. Birth Rate has plummeted dramatically since 2007 as a result of the recession, and the population growth as a whole obviously trends behind birth rates.
I think we’ve seen the end of of “sustainable growth” in the U.S. As the professor in the video points out, there’s really no such thing as “sustainable growth”, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. I think the current economic collapse, which in turn has caused a downturn in the birth rate as well as the immigration rate (illegal immigration from Mexico has all but stopped in the last couple of years…), signals the beginning of a profoundly different era.
We saw peak oil in the U.S. in 1970. We’re about to see worldwide peak oil sometime in the next 10 years. I think there are more subtle resource limits that are already coming into play that we don’t even recognize that will further constrain population growth which will further constrain economic growth…
I think we’ll see a vague recovery from this recession, but things are never going to be like they were in the early ’90s. On the other hand, every generation likes to think that we’re entering some bold new phase of history, and maybe I’m just suffering from that?