# (2/8) De meest belangrijke video die je ooit zal zien (deel 2 van 8)

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Now, that happens to match the present rate of growth of the population of the United States.
We are not at zero population growth.
Right now, the number of Americans increases every year by over three million people.
No member of the council said Boulder should grow less rapidly than the United States is growing. Now, the highest answer any council member gave was 5% per year.
You know, I felt compelled, I had to write him a letter and say,
“Did you know that 5% per year for just 70 … ”
I can remember when 70 years used to seem like an awful long time, it just doesn't seem so long now. (audience laughter).
Well, that means Boulder's population would increase by a factor of 32.
That is, where today we have one overloaded sewer treatment plant, in 70 years, we'd need 32 overloaded sewer treatment plants.
Now did you realise that anything as completely all-American as 5% growth per year could give such an incredible consequence in such a modest period of time?
Our city council people have zero understanding of this very simple arithmetic.
Well, a few years ago, I had a class of non-science students.
We were interested in problems of science and society.
We spent a lot of time learning to use semi-logarithmic graph paper.
It's printed in such a way that these equal intervals on the vertical scale each represent an increase by a factor of 10.
So you go from one thousand to ten thousand to a hundred thousand, and the reason you use this special paper is that on this paper, a straight line represents steady growth.
Now, we worked a lot of examples. I said to the students,
“Let’s talk about inflation, let’s talk about 7% per year.”
It wasn't this high when we did this, it's been higher since then, fortunately it's lower now.
And I said to the students, as I can say to you, you have roughly sixty years life expectancy ahead of you.
Let’s see what some common things will cost if we have 60 years of 7% annual inflation.
The students found that a 55-cent gallon of gasoline will cost $35.20;
$2.50 for a movie will be $160;
the $15 sack of groceries my mother used to buy for a dollar and a quarter, that will be $960;
a $100 suit of clothes, $6,400; a $4000 automobile will cost a quarter of a million dollars;
and a $45,000 home will cost nearly 3 million dollars.
Well, I gave the students these data (shows overhead).
These came from a Blue Cross, Blue Shield ad.
The ad appeared in Newsweek magazine and the ad gave these figures to show the cost escalation of gall bladder surgery in the years since 1950, when that surgery cost $361.
I said, “Make a semi logarithmic plot, let’s see what's happening.”
The students found that the first four points lined up on a straight line whose slope indicated inflation of about 6% per year,
but the fourth, fifth, and sixth were on a steeper line, almost 10% inflation per year.
Well, then I said to the students, “Run that steeper line on out to the year 2000, let’s get an idea of what gall bladder surgery might cost,”
and this was, 2000 was four years ago—the answer is $25,000. The lesson there is awfully clear: if you're thinking about gall bladder surgery, do it now. (audience laughter)
In the summer of 1986, the news reports indicated that the world population had reached the number of five billion people growing at the rate of 1.7% per year.
Well, your reaction to 1.7% might be to say “Well, that's so small, nothing bad could ever happen at 1.7% per year.”
So you calculate the doubling time, you find it’s only 41 years.
Now, that was back in 1986; more recently in 1999, we read that the world population had grown from five billion to six billion .
The good news is that the growth rate had dropped from 1.7% to 1.3% per year.
The bad news is that in spite of the drop in the growth rate, the world population today is increasing by about 80 million additional people every year.
Now, if this current modest 1.3% per year could continue, the world population would grow to a density of one person per square meter on the dry land surface of the earth in just 780 years,
and the mass of people would equal the mass of the earth in just 2400 years. Well, we can smile at those, we know they couldn't happen.
This one make for a cute cartoon; the caption says, “Excuse me sir, but I am prepared to make you a rather attractive offer for your square.”
There's a very profound lesson in that cartoon. The lesson is that zero population growth is going to happen.
Now, we can debate whether we like zero population growth or don't like it, it’s going to happen.
Whether we debate it or not, whether we like it or not, it’s absolutely certain.
People could never live at that density on the dry land surface of the earth.
Therefore, today’s high birth rates will drop; today’s low death rates will rise till they have exactly the same numerical value.
That will certainly be in a time short compared to 780 years.
So maybe you're wondering then, what options are available if we wanted to address the problem. In the left hand column, I’ve listed some of those things that we should encourage if we want to raise the rate of growth of population
and in so doing, make the problem worse. Just look at the list.
Everything in the list is as sacred as motherhood. There's immigration, medicine, public health, sanitation.
These are all devoted to the humane goals of lowering the death rate and that’s very important to me, if it’s my death they’re lowering.
But then I’ve got to realise that anything that just lowers the death rate makes the population problem worse.
There’s peace, law and order; scientific agriculture has lowered the death rate due to famine—that just makes the population problem worse.
It’s widely reported that the 55 mph speed limit saved thousands of lives—that just makes the population problem worse.
Clean air makes it worse. Now, in this column are some of the things we should encourage if we want to lower the rate of growth of population and in so doing, help solve the population problem.
Well, there’s abstention, contraception, abortion, small families, stop immigration, disease, war, murder, famine, accidents.
Now, smoking clearly raises the death rate; well, that helps solve the problem. Remember our conclusion from the cartoon of one person per square meter; we concluded that zero population growth is going to happen.
Let’s state that conclusion in other terms and say it’s obvious nature is going to choose from the right hand list and we don't have to do anything
—except be prepared to live with whatever nature chooses from that right hand list.
Or we can exercise the one option that’s open to us, and that option is to choose first from the right hand list.
We gotta find something here we can go out and campaign for. Anyone here for promoting disease? (audience laughter)
We now have the capability of incredible war; would you like more murder, more famine, more accidents?
Well, here we can see the human dilemma—everything we regard as good makes the population problem worse, everything we regard as bad helps solve the problem.
There is a dilemma if ever there was one.
The one remaining question is education: does it go in the left hand column or the right hand column?
I’d have to say thus far in this country it’s been in the left hand column—it's done very little to reduce ignorance of the problem.
And nature is already choosing from that right hand list. You read about the aids epidemic that's devastating the continent of Africa.
I had a friend back from Zimbabwe. People, he said, are dying on the streets. Nature is taking care of the problem.
So where do we start? Well, let’s start in Boulder, Colorado. Here’s a graph of Boulder population.
There’s the 1950 census figure, 1960, 1970—in that period of twenty years, the average growth rate of Boulder’s population was 6% per year.
With big efforts, we’ve been able to slow the growth somewhat. There’s the 2000 census figure.
I’d like to ask people: let’s start with that 2000 figure, go another 70 years—one human life time—and ask:
what rate of growth would we need in Boulder’s population in the next 70 years so that at the end of 70 years,
the population of Boulder would equal today’s population of your choice of major American cities?
Boulder in 70 years could be as big as Boston is today if we just grew 2.58% per year. “Did you know that 5% per year for just 70 … ”