Some subscribers to Math-Learn might be interested in an OpEd "The world's biggest problem? Too many people" <http://lat.ms/p4rOFa> [Harte & Ehrlich (2011) that appeared in the Los Angeles Times of 21 July 2011.
Q. What's "Too many people" got to do with Math education?
A. "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential." Albert Bartlett
Harte & Ehrlich wrote [bracketed by lines "H&E-H&E-H&E-. . . ."; my CAPS]:
H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E . . . . .[[The general neglect of the over-population problem in the media]]]. . . . pretty much reflects the appalling state of U.S. public education today on population. THE U.S. APPROACH TO POPULATION ISSUES ACROSS ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, IN TERMS OF SUCH THINGS AS EDUCATION, ATTACKS ON FAMILY PLANNING AND TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR CHILDREN, IS AN EXERCISE IN THOUGHTLESSNESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Globally, the effects of overpopulation play a part in practically every daily report of mass human calamity, but the word "population" is rarely mentioned. Wildfires threaten ever more people because expanding populations are moving nearer and into forests. Floods inundate more homes as populations expand into floodplains. Such extreme events are stoked by climate change, fueled by increasing carbon emissions from an expanding global population.
Overpopulation is also fueling desertification and further deforestation around the world. We can dream of drastically decreasing overconsumption by the wealthy, but even realistic potential decreases are voided by sheer human numbers in all countries, rich and poor. Our unsustainable population levels are depleting resources and denying a decent future to our descendants.
What to do? Stop the denial. PERPETUAL GROWTH IS THE CREED OF A CANCER CELL, NOT A SUSTAINABLE HUMAN SOCIETY.. . . . . . . . WE CAN DO MANY THINGS TO SOLVE ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS, BUT EACH IS A LOST CAUSE IF WE CANNOT BRING OUR POPULATIONS DOWN TO SUSTAINABLE LEVELS. H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E-H&E
The L.A. Times states that "Mary Ellen Harte is coauthor of 'Cool the Earth, Save the Economy' [Harte & Harte (2008)]. . . . [[FREE! download at <http://www.cooltheearth.us/download.php>.]]. . . . . Anne Ehrlich <http://bit.ly/n90kf8> is a senior research scientist at Stanford University. John Harte and Paul Ehrlich contributed to this piece. All are biologists involved in the study of climate change and sustainability.
BTW - John Harte is the author of two great books on estimation: "Consider a Spherical Cow" [Harte (1988)] and "Consider a Cylindrical Cow: More Adventures in Environmental Problem Solving" [Harte (2001)]. These are valuable complements to Sanjoy Mahajan's (2010) excellent "Street-Fighting Mathematics."
"A SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH: If any fraction of the observed global warming can be attributed to the actions of humans,then this, by itself, constitutes clear and compelling evidence that the human population, living as we do, has exceeded the Carrying Capacity of the Earth.This situation is clearly not sustainable. As a consequence it is AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH that all proposals or efforts at the local, national or global levels to solve the problems of global warming will have little lasting effect if they fail to advocate that we address the fundamental cause of global warming namely overpopulation." - Al Bartlett <http://www.albartlett.org/>
REFERENCES [All URL's accessed on 23 July 2011; some shortened by <http://bit.ly/>.] Harte, J. 1988. "Consider a Spherical Cow." University Science Books, Amazon.com information at <http://amzn.to/nAok7d>, note the searchable "Look Inside" feature.
Harte, J. 2001. "Consider a Cylindrical Cow: More Adventures in Environmental Problem Solving" University Science Books, Amazon.com information at <http://amzn.to/nBwV5y>, note the searchable "Look Inside" feature.
Harte, M.E. & and A. Ehrlich. 2011. "The world's biggest problem? Too many people: Our unsustainable population levels are depleting resources and denying a decent future to our descendants. We must stop the denial." Los Angeles Times OpEd, 21 July 2011; online at <http://lat.ms/p4rOFa>.
Mahajan, S. 2010. "Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving," MIT Press, forward by Carver Mead, publisher's information at <http://bit.ly/ghF5XY>. Amazon.com information at <http://amzn.to/olDT31>, note the searchable "Look Inside" feature.
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