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2. One of the issues Bartlett clearly feels strongly about is population growth. Summarize his theories on world population growth and discuss whether you agree or disagree with his view of the future of humanity.

Dr.  Albert Bartlett has a pessimistic if realistic view of the future with regards to population growth and its effect on human society. While the numbers and graphs he presents to us during his lecture are quite evocative, the real blow is administered with the 'Table of Options' segment of his talk on overpopulation.

In this segment, in what I, as the viewer, can only assume is an attempt to humanize the recurring graphs and percentages, Dr. Bartlett presents us with a set of causes and solutions to overpopulation, and takes care to emphasize the chilling fact that quenching population growth goes against basic human nature. The 'solutions' for overpopulation negate the most noble undertaking of society; the preservation of human life. The concepts of war, famine, and closing our borders to those who wish to join and better our society seem to us, while logical, inhuman and inconceivable in practice. Other than the possible introduction of new laws regarding contraception (naturally a pipe dream in a country as god-fearing as our own; "exponential go forthing and multiplying"), none of these courses of action seem reasonable.

Of course, all one needs do is sift through the sizeable collection of Science Fiction solutions to the problem, to see that despite our virtually infinite capacity for ingenuity and hope, we are in fact doomed. Among the many brilliant and illogical solutions, unfortunately the simplest and therefore supposedly the most likely is the introduction of a predator into the ecosystem.  Supposedly an alien or mythical life form consuming humans would allow us to eventually fall safely into the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model represented here by two equations: The predator population dynamics:  dP/dt = ca'PN – qP, and the prey population dynamics: dN/dt = rN – a'PN. In which P are the predators, N are the prey, q is the predator mortality rate and c is the predators efficiency in converting prey into more predators(food into offspring, humans into zombies etc).

Another solution, while much more complicated than the resort to cannibalism, is in my eyes infinitely more tasteful and is the concept, as Dr. Bartlett put it, of finding 'more bottles'. The cultivation of moss and consequentially oxygen on the moon or other planets in our solar system, and Arthur C. Clark's literary invention of the Space Elevator; Considering the fact that the author has previously predicted the invention of the satellite and his scientific contribution of the Geostationary Communications Satellite, there is perhaps hope that NASA's actual attempts to engineer such a contraption (electromagnetic vessels that will travel from earth to the moon on a cable with its center of mass at Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), 35,786 km in altitude) will lose its addendum of 'Fiction' to the suffix of 'Science'.   

In closing, I must say Dr. Bartlett's reasonable fear of exponential population growth is, as he mentioned, 'un-American'.  As something of a foreigner, I can reaffirm that observation of American culture; a constant motivation to expand as a species and a civilization is quite definitely a founding principle of our society. An easy place to observe this is portion sizes in American restaurants and the subsequent expansion of American waistlines and number of offspring. Exponential growth in regards to humanity will always be attractive to the capitalistic and consumerism-driven society that makes up the United States, and while education on the subject might lend itself to speculation and half-hearted attempts at solutions and reversal, we are inevitably destined to either eat each other, or travel the stars.

We, as a people, will never be able to accept the ironic colloquialism that 'less is more', or finally take to heart the paraphrased anthem of a great American hero: "Mo People Mo Problems".
Extra credit essay for my Math class - got 100% and a giggle from the instructor. :D
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March 19, 2010
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