December 14, 2007
It's an enormous conceit to think that population increases are everywhere and always a good thing. In the blessed tradition, however, of neo-classical economic theory (aka 'free markets') such is the miracle of rational choice that left to themselves people will 'optimize' the rate of population growth: no natural limit on population exists. Nevertheless, in reality the unacknowledged costs of population growth mostly shift to future generations. Call it the ultimate Ponzi scheme. And if you think about it, population growth is the main driver of all our planetary scale problems, from warming to Peak Oil to food production, right down the list. Locally as well, even to diluted democratic practices of governance. Although it makes no sense whatsoever to tackle any of these without due consideration of the population factor most of the time population doesn't get mentioned — the implications are so politically controversial. To help put population and its derivatives into perspective I turned to a man who's been sounding the alarm about sustainability [.doc] for decades, Dr. Albert Allen Bartlett. It was a real privilege to talk with Al, who's as close to being a prophet as anybody can be these days. Listen, and pass the word! Total runtime an hour and sixteen minutes.