Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Paul Erlich Revisited

In the late 1960's Dr Paul Erlich published a book called the Population Bomb. What he was saying is basically a sort of expanded version of what Mendel found considerably earlier: populations increase logarithmically, whereas food supplies increase arithmetically. So human populations go 2-4-8-16-32-64, and the food supplies go 1-2-3-4-5-6. Guess what? Too many humans and we all starve -- or at least a whole lot of us do.

Now bear in mind that when Erlich wrote his book the world's human population hovered around 3.1 billion. Now, just on 40 years later, it is closer to 7 billion. We are using up all our food and resources while breeding like the proverbial rabbits.

So all the current furore about climate change and all that, I would argue, is directly attributable to human activities, if for no other reason that we have so many more humans. Even the fact that each of us are by nature carbon emitters (breathing in O2, breathing out CO2) and there are more of us doing it. So, dear folks, forget cow farts. Let us look closer to home to our own breeding habits. And of course, we must also look at our insatiable needs for energy to maintain our lifestyles...

Obviously these stark facts haven't seemed to sink into some of the world's leaders. This week in Oz, for example, we have the Catholic World Youth Day, which even the Pope, Benedict XVI is attending. And the current Australian cardinal, George Pell, has got up and stated publicly that the West needs to breed more and faster or else we lose our civilisation.

I would refer Cardinal Pell to Mendel and to Erlich first and foremost. I would then refer him to the fact that despite where we are born and what colour our skins, we are all members of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. One might say, please go a bit light on the sapiens bit, but that's what the biologists call us.

But we are not showing much sapience.

So, reflect on our population growth. Reflect that the best way to curb unwarranted growth is educating women. And another important step is for the old men of the Roman Catholic church to please shut up about breeding, and join the real world and see its problems.

Cardinal Pell, say a Mass for the starving millions of today and the starving billions of tomorrow. They need all the help they can get.

Enough for now.
P B White