Dan Brown’s Overpopulation Is Overblown

I’ve just finished reading Dan Brown’s latest book Inferno, which I’ve heard is next in line to be a feature film, with director Ron Howard and actor Tom Hanks both on-board.

A lot of people are very snobbish about Brown’s books. My feelings are that this snobbery comes out of the fact that they’re quite popular, and it’s fashionable to look down your nose at what the “masses” enjoy reading on holiday, etc.

I enjoyed the book – another fun straightforward 24-hour thriller that he’s now so well known for.

Another criticism centres around the inaccuracies of his work. But so what if it’s inaccurate? It’s a book, a story – a work of fiction. Let him make up whatever allows his story to be even more exciting I say.

The latest inaccuracies in Inferno centre around the warnings that the human population is rising out of control and so we’ll have to do (cue scary music) “something” to decrease the “surplus population” (as Ebenezer Scrooge put it in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol).

The idea that there are too many humans has been around for some time. Whether it’s the 18th Century scary warnings of Thomas Malthus or Paul Ehrlich’s 1960’s scaremongering in The Population Bomb, there’s never been a shortage of people screaming that the end is neigh.

The fact is though, the overpopulation story is a myth. We’re always on the verge of a population crisis where we can’t feed everyone, and it’s all going to hell. And then it never happens.

Some smart talented people have knocked together some short, simple and highly watchable videos on this subject. They quickly and succinctly give the overpopulation myth a well-deserved reality check:

Many think that we simply don’t make enough food to feed everyone. Wrong again:

And it’s not that there’s too many of us. In some parts of the world, there’s not enough being born:

So it’s good news – if only we could solve some of the problems in the second video (war, poverty, etc.) things would be better still.

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3D Printers – The Revolution Begins

3D Printer CUPeople in the media are hyperventilating over 3D printers being used to make guns. It all reminds me of the early days of the internet, when the mainstream response was internet = bad. In fact, I distinctly remember a news/magazine-format breaking TV programme in the mid 90s that ran a cautionary report that “children as young as eight were getting access to the internet.” Not that they were using it unsupervised, etc, just that they were actually “seeing it”. Incredible.

Let’s not let them scare us in the same way about 3D printers. The truth is, the 3D printing revolution, just like the revolution of the world wide web, will overwhelmingly be a positive revolution. Just one example, the Daily Beast gives us a glimpse at how 3D printers can supply food and a perfectly balanced diet for everyone. They’ve spoken to Anjan Contractor (cool name), who’s just putting together the finer points of a 3D food printer:

Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.

The future’s very exciting…

Another Good News Update

With all the economic doom and gloom, it’s always worth looking at the sunnier side. Not just to be optimistic, but because it’s a fact that overall things are getting better. Generally speaking, over a long enough period of time, things always tend to get better.

I wrote a while ago about MP Douglas Carswell’s reality check on how things are getting better from the global view. Well, Jeff Randall has also pointed out very recently the ways in which the economy is improving even in the UK. As he points out:

Retail sales are up, manufacturing is improving, car sales are up, house prices are up, share prices are up and employment is at a record high.

So thinks are slowly but surely getting better. I know it’s hard to see it right now, and there’s things the government can/should do (like significant cuts in the unproductive – i.e. state sector so that the productive sector can keep more of its wealth-creating income) but even on the (too) slow and steady path we’re on right now, I think  we’ll get there.

Matt Ridley: Fossil Fuels are ‘Greening’ the Planet

In a special talk for the guys at Reason, an encouraging and fascinating talk from Matt Ridley:

Andy Jones TV Season 5 Episode 2

A lot of people wonder when the more libertarian period was in human history. Just the other day someone proudly pronounced to me that it was 1790. Really? I bet if you were a black slave in the cotton fields you’d have a very different point of view.

I think the most libertarian time is now:

Good News Update

A positive update on the world from the always-interesting Douglas Carswell MP.

It's always good to read stuff like that. We hear so much bad news that positive updates often get looked aside.