Monday, May 29, 2006

Climber Dies On Everest; Population Control

"As you put more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears..."
--Dr. Albert Bartlett

If Chaos' faithful readers (are there any?) have kept up with our journey towards greater and greater entropy, they have come across this lecture by Dr. Albert Bartlett on the inevitable consequences of exponential growth in a world of finite resources. (To those of you who still believe that the Earth's resources are in effect, infinite, you are quite behind and need to catch up--Chaos suggests you read January 12, 2006's post and watch the video link provided therein). The most profound observation of Bartlett's, however, deals with the effects of population growth: "democracy cannot survive overpopulation...human dignity cannot survive overpopulation." Bartlett uses a metaphor: two people in an apartment with two bathrooms, you have "freedom of the bathroom." Twenty people in the apartment, you can't have freedom of the bathroom, no matter how much people believe in the freedom of the bathroom. Fast forward to today's paper of record, in which a climber on Everest died (of exposure, Chaos assumes) whilst some 40 other climbers simply walked on by. The contrast between the first summit in 1953 and today is stunning: Sir Edmund Hilary is quoted as stating that climbers today just don't get it; there was no possibility of anyone in his party, had they been injured, being left behind on the original expedition. Chaos can think of no more compelling example of the disastrous consequences of overpopulation than this.

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