Article on PBS site: Let a Billion Computers Crash : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

An interesting article that mentions the similarity between genetic and software diversityWhy Microsoft's Success Makes Us Even More Vulnerable to Y2K Craziness
What do Paul Elrich's population bomb theories have to do with Y2K? A whole heck of a lot, warns Robert X. Cringely. Microsoft operating system and application users may have some serious problems coming when we tick through 2000.

Link to article:

-- Tim (, July 09, 1999


First - the name was Ehrlich. Second, every prediction about famine and disease and population figures he made, had one thing in common. Every one was flat wrong.

Of course, to some people, that doesn't seem to be much of a problem.

-- Paul Davis (, July 09, 1999.

The only thing wrong with Ehrich's and other doomers' predictions, in general, is the TIMING. Sooner or later, a great percentage of them do come true. The predictors do tend to underestimate the ability of humanity to muddle through and to put out brushfires, which is why a lot of the predictions don't come true, or they come true late.

That being said, you can't fool mother nature. Every species that overfills its ecological niche, eventually suffers die off. Last I saw, humans were a species. And it is yet to be determined if our so-called "intelligence" and "self awareness" are viable species survival traits. We have been farmers and city-folk for only 6,000 - 10,000 years at most (this time around). And prior to that, maybe a few million years as hunter/gatherers. Compare that blink of cosmic time to the length of time of the reign of the dinosaurs.

-- A (, July 09, 1999.

we should have stuck with hunting and gathering...

-- curtis schalek (, July 09, 1999.

A good start would be for every couple to limit their family to two children. Seeing the population double in my lifetime has not been an uplifting, or thrilling event. Even in my own family, one side bred like idiotic rabbits and the other did not.

The stress caused by overcrowding often ushers in violence, child abuse and suicides. I wish we would stop giving extra deductions to people that have more than two chilren. No deduction for the thrid one would be a good start.

-- gilda (, July 09, 1999.


I am not particularly an advocate of large families either, but the stuff about population control is being fed to us by the global elite. Part of their plan is to limit population growth and even reduce it whenever possible (wars?), simply because this makes it a lot easier for them to take total control of the planet. Fact is that the entire population of the world could fit into the state of Texas with approx. 1500 sq. ft. per person (about the size of a middle class American 3-bedroom home). There is more than enough food, and people looking for work who could produce more if needed, but our governments are actually destroying food rather than feed it to those who are starving. The REAL problem is not the size of the population, but the distribution of wealth, and it isn't too difficult to see that many of our great "leaders" are doing a bit of "hoarding" of their own. We shouldn't have to put restrictions on our freedoms merely to satisfy the greedy.

-- @ (@@@.@), July 09, 1999.

There's that little problem of massive pollution that goes with the big numbers of people. How long do you think that we can "dump" like we have been to support this size (and growing) population?

-- BiGG (, July 09, 1999.


The pollution problem needs to be rectified regardless of the population, and it may already be too late, particulary with respect to our destruction of the ozone layer and global warming. If we were living our lives in a way which was ecologically sound, it wouldn't matter how many people there were. Other life forms have been doing fine for millions of years by using renewable resources, but humans have been too stupid to figure it out.

-- @ (@@@.@), July 09, 1999.

According to official UN statistics, approximately one billion people are severely malnourished. (You know the old rule for realizing how big that number is: count one per second, around the clock, without taking time out to eat or go to the bathroom or sleep or read about Y2K, and in just about 33 years you'll reach a billion. Have fun.) I might also add that the U.S., with 5% of the world's population, uses somewhere between 22% and 30% of the world's available energy resources. Where the drain on non-renewable or only partly renewable energy sources might be taking us was covered in an earlier, excellent thread. And we won't even talk about other problems that we have managed to create for ourselves, like inadvertently experimenting with our climate. Global warming no doubt is a fiction, right? After all, Rush Limbaugh says so.

Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford research biologist, made claims decades ago that were indeed exaggerated both in terms of the severity of impact and the immediacy of impact. But was he right about the basic dangers of overpopulation? I rather suspect he was.

-- Don Florence (, July 09, 1999.

Garrett Hardin, in his essay, The Tragedy of the Commons, has this to say about population:
"Population, as Malthus said, naturally tends to grow "geometrically," or, as we would now say, exponentially. In a finite world this means that the per-capita share of the world's goods must decrease. Is ours a finite world?

"A fair defense can be put forward for the view that the world is infinite or that we do not know that it is not. But, in terms of the practical problems that we must face in the next few generations with the foreseeable technology, it is clear that we will greatly increase human misery if we do not, during the immediate future, assume that the world available to the terrestrial human population is finite. 'Space' is no escape. [2]

"A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero. (The case of perpetual wide fluctuations above and below zero is a trivial variant that need not be discussed.) When this condition is met, what will be the situation of mankind? Specifically, can Bentham's goal of "the greatest good for the greatest number" be realized?

"No -- for two reasons, each sufficient by itself. The first is a theoretical one. It is not mathematically possible to maximize for two (or more) variables at the same time. This was clearly stated by von Neumann and Morgenstern, [3] but the principle is implicit in the theory of partial differential equations, dating back at least to D'Alembert (1717-1783).

"The second reason springs directly from biological facts. To live, any organism must have a source of energy (for example, food). This energy is utilized for two purposes: mere maintenance and work. For man maintenance of life requires about 1600 kilocalories a day ("maintenance calories"). Anything that he does over and above merely staying alive will be defined as work, and is supported by "work calories" which he takes in. Work calories are used not only for what we call work in common speech; they are also required for all forms of enjoyment, from swimming and automobile racing to playing music and writing poetry. If our goal is to maximize population it is obvious what we must do: We must make the work calories per person approach as close to zero as possible. No gourmet meals, no vacations, no sports, no music, no literature, no art... I think that everyone will grant, without argument or proof, that maximizing population does not maximize goods. Bentham's goal is impossible."

(Garrett Hardin, Science, 162(1968):1243-1248.)

-- Tom Carey (, July 10, 1999.

Ahh, Tom, you've gone and rung my tambourine by quoting from my favorite eco-curmudgeon, Garrett Hardin. His essay "Tragedy of the Commons" and his old book "Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle" endeared me to his crusty, irreverent, poignant perception of how this environmemtal issue hangs together, or perhaps unravels. He advances the only argument against altruism (read "Altruism" by GH)that I consider worthwhile as well as the only rationale for private property (read "Tragedy...") to which Earth-centered individuals might subscribe.

But before you freedom-shouting, me-first, Braveheart wannabees start peeing yer britches, read Hardin and understand the context in which he advances what might, at first glance, seem to be your position. Context is everything. And unsupported puerile simplistic "there's enough and always will be" arguments like @@@ is fond of advancing just don't cut it among those who are really informed.

Robert Cringely's technical analogy (above) points out one of the mulifarious threads woven into this complicated web of life. As I've pointed out before (and likely will again) Y2K is a relatively simple lesson in systems thinking. But it is strictly undergraduate work compared to the overwhelming complexity of Earthcrisis.


The only way we can preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon. --- Garrett Hardin

"As population increases, individual freedom decreases."---Boyle's Law

-- (, July 10, 1999.

a, I became concerned about overpopulation in 1976 and have read everything since then about the situation, both pro and con. Yes, I've read how we can build up, not out, and carry agribusiness to new heights, and desalinate sea water, and never put a restriction on any persons right to breed indiscriminately. Maybe the earth can support billions more; who knows? But at what cost? I'd rather be dead than live on 1500 square feet, with nothing but people stretching to the horizon. However, long before this happens, we'll find that the center won't hold; the system will collapse. We would undoubtedly drown in a sea of pollution, filth and disease of our own making.

There are a few of us weirdos, who most of the time, prefer the company of the natural world and everything in it, to people. Of course, this does not mean we hate all people, of which we are often accused, but that we just love other things more. Erhlich was right, his timing was just off.

-- gilda (, July 10, 1999.

Start with simple stuff. try sterilizing everyone on wellfare. Then limmit kids to ONE worldwide under penalty of death. This would be the one nice thing about NWO it could be done right world wide.

-- do it right (, July 10, 1999.


The example of 1500 sq. ft. is only to put things in perspective about how much space there is relative to the people. Remember, I was referring to the entire population of the World within the state of Texas. Now get a map and look at the remaining area of the planet compared to Texas. If you do not like to live near people there are almost infinite areas where you could live. Look at how many people live in the city of Tokyo and the total area they live in. They do this by choice. If urban areas become too crowded, we simply need to take a new approach at development.

-- @ (@@@.@), July 10, 1999.

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