Dr. Albert A. Bartlett’s presentation on “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.”


I intensely dislike when they say “the most important… whatever” yet this is a good enough, entertaining lecture that I’d like to post it for you, my reader. This is part 1 of an 8-part (80 minutes total) lecture on how exponential growth works, what rule 72 is, and some good rules of thumb about doubling that help you figure growth rates (think inflation, really) and the associated imminent dangers. Overall, a good read! Credit where it’s due, this was indirectly referenced by r/superstonk .

The main points are:

  • that at 7% growth rate (hey, what’s your student loan APR?), something doubles every 10 years.
  • At each iteration, you consume/generate more than the sum of what’s been generated/consumed historically until now.
  • With unconstrained exponential growth, you have “abundance” of resources, e.g. half of all available resources, one iteration before the whole resource is depleted. In other words, without arithmetic and preemptive thinking, you don’t realize there is a problem until it’s too late.