quotes ranting

Studying the math

Anything that is not replenished by nature as fast as we’re using it cannot be part of a successful future.

Prof. Tom Murphy, in Ultimate Success from his Do the Math [] blog

That’s the sad truth, we are depleting things faster than the earth can replenish them. And whether you acknowledge humans as the primary driver of climate change or not, you should understand that humanity is using things faster then they can be replenished and that’s going to be a problem at some point. If you use the sugar or milk faster then you can get to the shop to replace it you have to do without… how do you do without energy when we run out of coal and oil and gas?

I’ve been reading UCSD Professor Tom Murphy’s Do The Math [] blog since close to the beginning, back in 2011 I think (at least that’s when I quoted him the first time []). It dropped off the radar for a while, no posts for a couple of years but in the past few weeks it’s come back. And for a good reason, Prof. Murphy has turned the central premise of the blog into a proper textbook, that you can read online or download for free at eScholarship [] or purchase an actual physical copy at Lulu [].

The blog is an amazing way to get into some of the hard science behind the debt we, humanity, have and continue to build up to fund our planet destroying growth. But let me let the blog speak for itself:

[Do the Math] takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth. The approach is often playfully quantitative, with the aim of arriving at a fresh perspective on our world. Posts stress estimation over exactness, because in many cases a reasonably complete picture can be developed without lots of decimal places. Estimations of this type can be used to bring clarity to complex issues, or to evaluate the potential of proposed energy solutions. Hopefully, readers will gain the courage and techniques to start making valuable estimations of their own. The blog begins with a two-part assessment of the implications of continued growth, then settles down to tackle a variety of cute questions relating to energy storage, biofuels, home energy, transport, climate change, etc.

Prof. Tom Murphy, in About this Blog from his Do the Math [] blog

I ordered the book from Lulu and it just arrived the other day. Now to find the willpower to read an honest to goodness textbook for the first time in years. I think more people should have a decent understanding of the basic mathematics and scientific concepts behind these issues, so it’s time to put my money where my mouth is (actually I need to put my time where my mouth is and read…) Most normal people are not going to read the full textbook, but I encourage you to go and read some or all of the blog. Start here with the Guide to Posts [], you can read by subject, focus on Growth and Sustainability or Alternative Energy or the very important why change is Easier Said than Done.

Whatever order you want to read the blog or the textbook in, please do it. More people should understand the basics of the trap we built for ourselves and what we need to be do to get out of it.