Dr. Albert Bartlett on Arithmetic, Population and Energy

Dr. Albert A. Bartlett – Professor Emeritus
Department of Physics
University of Colorado at Boulder

“The Greatest Shortcoming of the Human Race is our Inability to Understand the Exponential Function”

He starts of the lesson with the rule of 70 that most of us are familiar with. Which describes the time to double = 70/rate.

But here’s what most politicians, county planners and just about everyone else misses. The steady growth for one human lifetime (factor):

1% 2=2
2% 2 x 2 = 4
3% 2 x 2 x 2 = 8
4% 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16
5% 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 32
6% = 64
7% = 128

In other words at a 5% growth rate through someone’s lifetime (70 years) the cost of something will increase 32 times if a 5% inflation rate is maintained. Similarly a town’s population will increase 32x if an annual 5% growth rate is maintained during the same 70 years.

The First Law of Sustainability:
Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources CANNOT BE SUSTAINED.

Entire playlist:



About sandiachris

I love the diverse people and cultures in the United States and especially New Mexico & Colorado. I enjoy exploring new trails, as the South West USA is amazing. I'm a small business owner and software developer. I've taught economics, built computers, vegetable oil powered cars, software, and like to write about things that could make our lives more meaningful, pleasant and less stressful.
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