Sample lesson 1 – The most striking graph I ever saw

Annual World Population since 10 thousand BCE for Our World in Data

Powerful enough in its own right, but even more so in the context of the previous lecture by the late Prof. Albert Bartlett.

The true implications of terms like ‘overshoot’ and ‘unsustainable’ become apparent when we consider the possibility of this graph peaking and, potentially, going vertical in the other direction.

And if we hold that in mind while looking to the graph for the scale of epochal mortality events like The Black Death and the World Wars… Well, it makes my blood run cold.  The term ‘putting things into perspective’ even itself seems inadequate.

In that context, the dominant narrative (from the likes of those UN demographers mentioned at the top) that ‘collapse is not an option’ becomes entirely understandable — as do perhaps even the accusations that sometimes ensue towards those highlighting the technological trap we have walked into.

‘Option’ or not though, it looks a very real possibility, not least since scientists find that — within a single modern human lifetime of today — we are heading for a climate far outside the experience of Homo sapiens, with all that that implies for a complicated, globalised system.

Take a breath — we’re here together to figure out how we respond to these realities.

Oh, and needless to say, by “world population” the graph means world human population (here’s a 6 minute visualisation of humanity’s spread throughout history)

The overall trend for other species is quite the opposite, and far from unrelated.  The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.