Part 9: As small towns expand into big towns, the costs, the pain, the results ain’t so hot, innumerates and idiots share the same bed
This week, in the Denver Post, a journalist wrote a story that celebrated the addition of 600,000 people to the Denver area in the last two years. Mind you, that Denver suffers 2.25 million residents and a toxic Brown Cloud loaded with nastiness for everyone’s lungs with every breath. Denverites must endure endless gridlocked traffic, two dozen auto crashes daily, more than a few ‘flipped birds’ thrown, road rage, potholes, cracking and degrading bridges, and a host of other tensions created by a large city.
Nonetheless, the journalist reported a happy city council member saying, ““It’s exciting,” said City Council woman Judy Montero. “Hopefully, the growth will continue….”
That’s like telling a 440 pound competitor on the TV game show “Biggest Losers” to go out and eat an entire grocery store full of food to help him or her win the contest and prize money! Include, please, the cardiac unit with the eating program!
Unfortunately, not one person enjoyed an interview to expose the consequences of that 600,000 people added to Denver! The piece ‘celebrated’ growth as the Denver Post has for many decades. Not one mention of severe air pollution, lung diseases, emphysema, water shortages building along the front range, horrendous gridlock and environmental degradation.
“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?” Prof. Al Bartlett
Dr. Albert Bartlett, professor of Physics, emeritus, University of Colorado, www.albartlett.org , wrote a most compelling article in the Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado, February 3, 2008, “What part of arithmetic does not hold in Boulder?” that needs to be read by every governor, senator, House rep and city council member across the United States. I consider it the most important thesis of the 21st century.
Harvard researcher E.O. Wilson echoes Bartlett’s words, “The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people but to poor ideology and land-use management is sophistic.”
The question grows, “How can the Denver Post editors celebrate growth that has brought so many problems to that city, and, if it grows to its expected doubling to four million, how can they think anything will be improved?”
Dr. Bartlett answers that, “It’s not clear why the legislature would think that the people would want all these known consequences of growth. However, innumeracy reigns. The promoters have demonstrated great skill in using public innumeracy to get around minor details like the “will of the people.”
“In the meantime, the innumerates act as though gasoline, natural gas and water will always be with us at low cost and in unlimited quantities. Crude oil prices have increased from $20 a barrel in 2002 to $100 a barrel in 2008. This largely suggests that the world production of conventional oil peaked and is starting its inevitable decline, just as was predicted in 1956.
“If this rate of increase continues, we would look for oil to cost $500 a barrel in another in six years or 2014. [Read the book, $20 a gallon, by Chris Steiner at Forbes Magazine] Natural gas production in North America has peaked, and this accounts for the rapid rise in the price of natural gas, which is already creating hardships for some who like to have a warm home or comfortable workplace in winter.
“Water shortages and talk of restrictions on water use are frequently in the news. By their continued promotion of growth, the innumerates are speeding the arrival of painful but predictable water shortages and consequent rationing of gasoline, natural gas and water in the Rocky Mountain area. These shortages and the accompanying high prices will remake the urban landscape in ways that are probably not included in current “long-range” planning efforts of the city, county and state. These problems cannot be solved by a nickel’s worth of “Smart Growth” tacked onto billions of dollars worth of urban sprawl.
“The arithmetic of population, resources and growth is inexorable. The consequences of the arithmetic cannot be avoided by believing that “wishing will make it so” (Walt Disney’s First Law).
“Many years ago, an innumerate graduate of the University of Colorado wrote to me saying, that he did not believe that this arithmetic of growth holds in Boulder. What part of the arithmetic of growth is it that innumerates don’t understand.”
Dr. Bartlett has given his celebrated lecture, Arithmetic, Population and Energy over 1,600 times. His collected writings have been published in the book, “The Essential Exponential! For the Future of Our Planet“. www.albartlett.org
Fellow citizens, we do not want to manifest what he demonstrates in that lecture! Trust me, I have seen it all across Asia in my bicycle travels. The results of ‘innumeracy’ prove quite incompatible with human comfort and/or existence! Ask anyone from Bangladesh or Mexico City!
Denver Post Your Hub March 24, 2010 ##