[Coral-List] what agency should list corals

frahome at yahoo.com frahome at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 16 05:49:48 EDT 2013

Let me forward you this highly interesting and mind opening lecture on arithmetic by Prof Al Bartlett. His talk addresses the population growth issue but even better the resource consumption growth rate one.
Professor Al Bartlett begins his one-hour talk with the statement, "The 
greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand 
the exponential function." 

Here you can find the lecture of the video and the full transcript:

But let me share this extract from the transcript and try to answer the questions before reading the answers.

All right, let’s look now at what happens when we have this kind of steady growth in a finite environment.

Bacteria grow by doubling. One bacterium divides to become two, the two divide to become 4, the 4 become 8, 16 and so on. Suppose we had bacteria that doubled in number this way every minute. Suppose we put one of these bacteria into an empty bottle at 11:00 in the morning, and then observe that the bottle is full at 12:00 noon. There's our case of just ordinary steady growth: it has a doubling time of one minute, it’s in the finite environment of one bottle.

I want to ask you three questions. Number one: at what time was the bottle half full? Well, would you believe 11:59, one minute before 12:00? Because they double in number every minute.

And the second question: if you were an average bacterium in that bottle, at what time would you first realise you were running of space? Well, let’s just look at the last minutes in the bottle. At 12:00 noon, it’s full; one minute before, it’s half full; 2 minutes before, it’s a quarter full; then an 1/8th; then a 1/16th. Let me ask you, at 5 minutes before 12:00, when the bottle is only 3% full and is 97% open space just yearning for development, how many of you would realise there’s a problem?

Well, suppose that at 2 minutes before 12:00, some of the bacteria realise they’re running out of space, so they launch a great search for new bottles. They search offshore on the outer continental shelf and in the overthrust belt and in the Arctic, and they find three new bottles. Now that’s an incredible discovery, that’s three times the total amount of resource they ever knew about before. They now have four bottles, before their discovery, there was only one. Now surely this will give them a sustainable society, won’t it?

You know what the third question is: how long can the growth continue as a result of this magnificent discovery? Well, look at the score: at 12:00 noon, one bottle is filled, there are three to go; 12:01, two bottles are filled, there are two to go; and at 12:02, all four are filled and that’s the end of the line.

Now, you don't need any more arithmetic than this to evaluate the absolutely contradictory statements that we’ve all heard and read from experts who tell us in one breath we can go on increasing our rates of consumption of fossil fuels, in the next breath they say “Don't worry, we will always be able to make the discoveries of new resources that we need to meet the requirements of that growth.”


 From: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
To: "frahome at yahoo.com" <frahome at yahoo.com> 
Cc: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> 
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 9:52 AM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] what agency should list corals

I just took a quick look at the Wikipedia page, "Projections of population growth."  They say

"According to current projections of population growth, the world population of humans will continue to grow until at least 
2050, with the estimated population, based on current growth trends, to 
reach 9 billion in 2040,[1][2] and some predictions putting the population in 2050 as high as 11 billion.[3] World population passed the 7 billion mark on October 31, 2011.[1]
According to the United Nations' World Population Prospects report,[4] the world population is currently growing by approximately 74 million people per year. 
Current United Nations predictions estimate that the world population 
will reach 9.0 billion around 2050, assuming a decrease in average fertility rate from 2.5 down to 2.0.[5][6]"

The Wikipedia page on "Population 
growth" has some interesting graphs, like the first one showing world 
population growth since 10,000 BCE, which shows how extremely rapidly population has grown in the last few hundred years compared to earlier, even the logarithmic version of it that which is their third graph shows 
that the growth rate has spiked in the last couple hundred years or so.  Their second graph shows that the rate of population growth, expressed 
in percent growth per year, has been decreasing since the early 1960's, 
and is projected to continue to decline.

Cheers,  Doug

On Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 12:01 AM, frahome at yahoo.com <frahome at yahoo.com> wrote:

I have not checked the scientific validity of the below link but I can see that even in the more "optimistic" curve we will be over 8 billions by 2035 (population is not dropping, yet) and still as many as 6.2 billions in 2100.
>I do not mean to be negative but maybe in 2100 the population could be even less than the "optimistic" estimate of 6.2 billions considering what could happen if we do not act now to face the food, environmental, economic, poverty, inequity, overpopulation, and climate crises of the current and next few decades.
>As many started to say, or we get quickly and voluntarily prepared for a smooth transition to a new model or it will be forced on us in a very unpleasant way.
> From: Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
>To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 8:35 PM
>Subject: [Coral-List] what agency should list corals
>Looks like the subject of "what agency should list corals" will not go
>away. Probably the best answer is: no agency should list corals. Listing
>them surely will not change Co2 levels in the oceans in time to make a
>As for worries about population there is some good news in Science 2.0,
>5 April 2013
>It says global population is dropping and will continue until around
>2090. As for the waste water situation in the Florida Keys which was my
>research baby for more than 10 years, I remind people that everything
>that happened to Keys reefs (centered mainly around 1983) also happened
>to reefs synchronously around small isolated islands in the Bahamas and
>Caribbean at the same time (and don't forget that was when Diadema died
>throughout the Caribbean). It is a real stretch to blame sewage in those
>cases. Remember there are species of bamboos that die off synchronously
>worldwide about every 40 years ( some longer) and the cause is not
>climatic. Here is a quote from an
> article in Annals of Botany. 82:
>779-785, 1998. "Bamboos are woody perennials some species of which show
>the peculiar habit of dying after flowering just once, in long life
>cycles of 2 to 120 years (McClure, 1966). Should they be listed?
>Fortunately there there are historic records of their death (and
>resulting Panda demise) that stretch back hundreds of years. We don't
>have long historic observations for corals but do have geologic evidence
>of their demise in the past. Are not natural cycles interesting? Gene
>McClure FA. 1966. The bamboos, a fresh perspective. Cambridge,
>Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. No
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov


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