Caribbean Stories

Radio Sistema Tropical

Cardinal Points

The Milk Snatchers

Diego Azeta

20 August 2018

© 2018 Diego Azeta  ※  All Rights Reserved  ※  Derechos Reservados
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The PDF edition is the final (edited) version of the story.

HELLO AND WELCOME to Cardinal Points. We at Radio Sistema Tropical are pleased to announce that this past week’s episode on tropical systems, both the meteorological and technological kind, was well received by our listeners, many of whom conveyed their praise. Thank you to all our dear friends. They also requested we conclude our interview of programme host Teriaki that was left unfinished in our inaugural episode. In the spirit of airing the full story of Radio Sistema Tropical since its founding by Sergio Toledo, we would like to oblige our discerning listeners and complete that interview. Are you with us on this pending endeavour, Teriaki?

Teriaki: Our listeners’ wishes are our command. Certainly, Shahrazad. But if I may, I am a co-host of this programme, along with my talented colleague.

Shahrazad: Thank you, sir. Let me first recap the main points presented back then. Teriaki is a cultural systems analyst who recently retired from the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and private consulting practice. He is a citizen of the Republic of Kiribati in Oceania and a native of the lovely coral island of Kiritimati. He is currently a resident of the British Virgin Island of Anegada, where Sergio established Radio Sistema Tropical in 1972.

T: That is correct although I should add that I feel as if I were back home here in the paradise isle of Anegada. The ambiance is remarkably similar.

S: It is a marvellous tropical island, as I’m sure Kiritimati also is.

T: Indeed.

S: Teriaki, we interrupted the original interview just when you were telling us about your relocation to New York from Hong Kong. So please share with us your remembrances of New York City and the USA at that time.

T: Yes, that was in late summer of 1975. I worked at the UN Headquarters, in Manhattan, of course, but I lived in a comfy apartment in Queens, a borough on the other side of the East River, in the neighbourhood of Jackson Heights. It was a pleasant urban community. It still is.

S: Jackson Heights is renowned for its Indian and South Asian eateries.

T: Exquisite cuisine. Beyond compare. Wholesome and scrumptious.

S: Sounds like I should put that on my agenda for my next trip to New York.

T: Absolutely. You might wish to also consider The Tavern on the Green.

S: Been there. Done that. And will definitely do it again.

T: Is there any place on Earth you have not been to?

S: Still looking forward to Antarctica, as per your remark.

T: Yeah… The mid-seventies, I would say, was a promising time for America. The country was once again at peace, the fall of Saigon and of South Vietnam having transpired on the 30th of April. Nixon was gone. Genuine progress had been made in fighting a shocking apartheid, the bane of American democracy after slavery and as of late yet again. There was in some sense a palpable air of relief, that the nation had surmounted traumatic problems that had afflicted it since its inception and come to a head in the tumultuous year of 1968.

S: The time was ripe for a new beginning, you would say?

T: One would think that, offhand. But America never fits the obvious mould. The country is plagued by inveterate problems, the result of absurd ideological dogmas that impede rational thinking and action. The only time reasoning was employed in developing national policy was during the Great Depression. The catastrophe forced beleaguered policy makers to adopt a practical mindset.

S: As opposed to the ineffectual conservatism of the dogmatic ideologues.

T: Yes. Geologist Herbert Hoover, who preceded Franklin Roosevelt in the presidency, resisted the conservative tenet of «not intervening in the economy because in the long run it would correct itself». He messed up, but he did intervene.

S: The pernicious laissez-faire fallacy that prompted John Maynard Keynes to famously state: “In the long run we are all dead.”

T: If economies auto-correct themselves, why do we need economists? These people were terrible systems analysts. Their assumption was that the economy is a simple equilibrium system, like an inflatable punching-bag toy. Incredibly naïve! Every economy is a complex dynamic system characterized by adaptive change. There is never a stable state of equilibrium for the system to return to.

S: Unless the system as a whole collapses and attains entropic equilibrium.

T: Exactly! Which was what the world faced during the Great Depression. See here that the thinking of conservative economists was compromised by mythic ideological dogmas of a political nature. Behold the «science» of economics.

S: A criticism extensible to postmodern social science, perhaps?

T: Economics is not even a social science. More like a business school subject. In fact, there are universities where their econ faculty is conveniently housed in the business school. Most revealing. If anthropology were to mimic economics as an inquiring discipline, it would swiftly be sacked from academia.

S: Is that not too harsh a judgement?

T: Let me explain. People don’t really matter in economics. Only “agents” that have money are valid actors in the abstract world of economics, as consumers, producers, investors, and the like. Now imagine an anthropology where certain members of societies were systematically excluded from consideration because they lacked some supposedly important attribute, a property defined as critical by the researchers of that biased anthropology. Would you say that this classist pseudopology can be deemed a social science, a science about all society?

S: I see your point.

T: Now, accounting, say, or finance, is not by any stretch of the imagination a social science. They’re legitimate business school subjects, surely, but not what is considered social science. I submit that conventional economics is more akin to accounting and especially finance than it is to any subfield of anthropology.

S: So your observation is not meant to be derogatory.

T: Certainly not. It is meant to make unambiguously pellucid that economics, as practised since the British took it up as an armchair sport of some sort, fails to comply with the fundamental principle of science, namely, uncompromising objectivity. It should —as the great 20th century American economist, Paul A. Samuelson, the laureate the Nobel Prize organization declared had “done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory”— Paul Samuelson asserted that economics should in fact be called political economy, therewith acknowledging the ordinarily unsavoury wheeling and dealing that is inherent to the realities of its worldly practice.

S: Can we revisit the “derogatory” matter once again?

T: No. Waste of time. Business is as business does and gets what it deserves.

S: Mm.

T: Either you do science, free from specious dogmas, or you do not, period.

S: Samuelson was the chief architect of the general equilibrium paradigm.

T: Of the modern view of general equilibrium, explicitly dynamic, as evinced by the sets of differential and difference equations he devised. These were not static hypothetical graphs showing supply, demands, and non-quantified prices. It was rigorous modelling. He put it squarely: “One … must study dynamics.”

S: Elegant parry, monsieur.

T: Merci. Now consider his intellectual nemesis, Milton Friedman, who had a knack for sound economic ideas but way too much affinity for political fluff.

S: Another example of the tenuous line between economics and politics.

T: Possibly the best. Allow me to propose that there were actually two distinct personages coexisting within the psyche of this gentleman. There is, of course, Friedman, the clever and widely renowned economic theorist, and then there is Milton, the political firebrand who is nowhere nearly as cautious in expressing provocative opinions as his somewhat more circumspect doppelgänger.

S: Dr Friedman and Mr Milton.

T: Yes! But first, a little technical background. There are two sets of tools that governments have at their disposal to oversee national economies: fiscal policy and monetary policy. The former utilizes taxation and government spending as ways to control and stimulate the economy. The latter influences the economy more subtly by regulating the supply of money and interest rates.

S: A government can use a combination of both sets of tools, though.

T: Certainly, and all do in varying degrees. With fiscal policy, the government takes direct control in managing the economy. They call the shots. This makes “right wingers” jittery, for they believe in market economics, that the economy should not be “managed” but allowed to respond to market conditions which, it is claimed without proof, will result in the best allocation of scarce resources.

S: The “best” allocation among those that have money and power.

T: That is not the problem of economics, they will say. Go see social work.

S: What many poor countries did in the 20th century was go see Karl Marx.

T: Emergent feedback, which still remains beyond the grasp of economists.

S: You’re right, they are terrible systems analysts.

T: Took them a century to find out that marginal analysis is plain ol’ calculus.

S: And these people had the nerve to invent a phoney Nobel for themselves?

T: Chutzpah! But look at the dimwits who granted it.

S: One wonders how these Euro-morons ever got to be the top bananas.

T: Easy: opium trafficking, brutal slavery, and ramrod military violence.

S: That is not how it’s portrayed in their history books.

T: Plumb forgot: and relentless propaganda.

S: They will surely take umbrage at your assessment.

T: The devious response is to feign offence, a sneaky form of denial. They act offended, but they’ve never done anything to redress their legion wrongs.

S: Well, they do the charity thing now and then.

T: Oh yeah? Haiti is still mired in rubble and misery after the West promised vociferously that it would restore the quake-torn country to «equilibrium».

S: Eight years and counting.

T: Don’t hold your breath. Let’s get back to Friedman and Hyde.

S: Milton.

T: Whatever. In the Depression, Friedman was out of work. Then here comes The Caped Crusader with a big “F” on his chest and doles Milton a job at the National Resources Planning Board, the only central planning bureaucracy the United States has ever had a chance to have had.

S: The Soviets were infiltrating America!

T: Yeah, yeah. Americans are still fed that bull. Can you believe that?

S: Sure. You can easily control your population with an external threat, real or fabricated. Especially when fabricated. Oldest trick in the book.

T: All you need are unscrupulous propaganda bullhorns. During that time, the Depression, Friedman was grateful for the job-creation programmes that FDR had instituted. But the older Milton would flat-out malign the entire New Deal initiative as “the wrong cure for the wrong disease”.

S: What a cad! That’s morally tantamount to being a benefits chiseller.

T: Beware the wiles of ideologues. Friedman was later hired by the University of Wisconsin at Madison as visiting lecturer to teach statistics at its economics department. He still had not completed his PhD, so this was an extraordinary opportunity for an up-and-coming parvenu.

S: A real job, untainted by New Deal contaminants. He must’ve been thrilled.

T: But he didn’t stay long, just one year. Milton blamed it on anti-Semitism.

S: I find that hard to believe. Madison is one of the most liberal universities in the United States, even back then. It just doesn’t make sense.

T: Let’s see what the Madison people remember. Milton let everyone know he was adamantly in favour of the US going to war with Germany. This was well before Pearl Harbour, when not only Madison but most of America was dead set against getting snared in another stupid European war.

S: A warmonger set loose on their campus, they must have felt.

T: Possibly. Not the way to win friends and influence colleagues, assuredly.

S: This was Friedman the brilliant economist?

T: No, no. This was Milton the political zealot. Friedman was stuck with this brash, obnoxiously swollen-headed, ultra-right blockhead.

S: That’s Milton, all right.

T: A barefaced reactionary. Here’s his consulting client list: Barry “Nuke 'em” Goldwater; Ronald “Bonzo” Reagan; Margaret “Blathering Maggie” Thatcher, who was saved by General Leopoldo Galtieri from ignominious defeats on her post-Falklands re-elections, the milk snatcher; the entire neocon mafia—

S: Wait, you left out the Mother of All Hitler Wannabes.

T: The Big Tortilla himself: «Generalissimo» Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. What is Chile without Tortilla? (A democracy.) The Mother of All Tortillas. Ugh!

S: A treacherous sonofabitch. Pardon my language.

T: Perfectly accurate, nothing to pardon. The «paladin of liberty» curtsied to this despot. Evidently, Friedman was no better than Milton. Asked to evaluate Madison’s offerings in statistics, Friedman wrote up a biting appraisal.

S: Oh, I have Stephen Stigler’s recollections of that. Let’s see… It should be— Ah! Here are the concluding lines of Friedman’s report:

A student cannot secure training at the University of Wisconsin sufficient to qualify him to teach advanced statistics or to do independent work in the field of statistical methods. Even if he takes all the work offered he will be but indifferently qualified to do research involving the application of modern statistics.

T: His bluntness showed ignorance of prudence and diplomacy. There already were professors at Madison teaching statistics. Tenured professors. PhDs.

S: But they did not teach advanced stats. No research-oriented stats.

T: They had not been asked to do that. When Friedman was offered a tenured associate professorship to implement his newfangled statistics programme, the senior economics professors demanded the administration’s offer be rescinded.

S: So Friedman “rescinded” himself.

T: Shortly after. He went back to the security of a federal government job.

S: What! Twice rescued by the «evil government» he would later vilify?

T: This guy was a royal pain. That’s why he crashed and burned at Wisconsin. At any rate, these two economists had the stage to themselves in the seventies: Samuelson, who received his Nobel in 1970, and Friedman, who obtained his in 1976. Samuelson championed Keynesian economics, which had dominated the field since the days of the Depression. Keynesianism is big on fiscal policy, which every card-carrying right-winger loathes. Friedman is now hailed as the father of monetarism, mostly by the cardos, who see Keynesianism as the pits.

S: This sounds awfully close to pedestrian, rough-and-tumble politicking.

T: That’s political economy for you. No other «science» comes close. But then something happened that suddenly turned the tables on Keynes & Company.

S: Stagflation.

T: I have to admit, these Brits are good at coining flashy terms and titles. The wealth of jargon. Please tell us what the dreaded thing is all about, Shahrazad.

S: Stagflation occurs when an economy is stagnant, exhibiting meagre growth, yet experiences high rates of inflation and unemployment. This combination is not explained by Keynesian economics nor had serious attention been paid to it before the 1970s, until it walloped the US after the OAPEC oil shock of 1973 and the Iran Revolution oil crisis of 1979. According to Keynesian theory, if inflation were high, unemployment had to be low. Keynesianism was unable to account for this politically damaging macroeconomic predicament.

T: Feet of clay. The flaw permeating all political economy.

S: Really. But what I still don’t understand is why would monetarism dethrone an otherwise successful economic theory so rapidly simply because it failed to explain one quirky condition, one till then largely localized to a post-imperial, declining UK. Stagflation had not been seen as a problem in the vibrant US.

T: Massive queues for petrol prodded Americans’ attention. But it gets worse: neither monetarism nor anything else offers a theoretically compelling analysis of the riddle. No one has presented a generally accepted explanation clarifying the knotty problem, Friedman’s monetary stopgap included. Monetarism is not any better than Keynesianism at demystifying stagflation. Or macroeconomics.

S: Where is monetarism better than Keynesianism?

T: In problems whose solutions call for practical monetary policies.

S: And Keynesianism is better for problems requiring sound fiscal policies?

T: Yes. Frankly, I don’t see what the problem is with these two camps. If you face a problem that requires a hammer, don’t insist on using your saw.

S: Well, Keynesians have compromised. But the cardos will have none of that.

T: It’s not that hard to understand. There may be two sets of tools, but there is only one toolbox. I’m not being facetious. In physics, there is classical physics and quantum physics. They don’t relate at all. Yet both are used by physicists, depending on the problem they happen to be working on. Note that physicists are veritable scientists. Practical. Economists seem to be politicos in disguise.

S: Consider yourself an outcast from their discipline.

T: That’s fine. I don’t like politicians. Which brings us to your question: Why did monetarism dethrone Keynesianism? Because Maggie became PM in 1979 and Bonzo prez in 1981. Milton’s reactionary clients. Suddenly he had a spiffy, cross-pond soapbox to peddle his ultra-right ideology. It was all pure politics.

S: More Madison antics. Can economists really be that dumb and fall for that?

T: But of course. It’s fundamental to their disciplinary culture. The propensity to not exclude politics and to retain their nonscientific biases, I mean. I repeat: the correct name of their field as it is practised in the macro setting is political economy. (Microeconomics is an entirely different ball game.) Samuelson was right from the very beginning, long before the rise of the cardos.

S: The cardos deftly used Friedman to advance their political agenda. Clever.

T: We must keep in mind that Milton Friedman was the biggest cardo of them all. I should make clear before moving on that neither monetarism nor market economics is or can ever be the panacea for solving macroeconomic problems. M&ME failed miserably in the Great Recession of 2007-2013. And although monetarism lost ground and reputation after the milk snatchers exited, M&ME still remain the cardos’ propaganda fetishes of choice. You’d think both would have been jettisoned already, as had been purposely done with Keynesianism.

S: Too valuable to let go. They prop up the insidious dogma of laissez-faire.

T: Precisely. It is clear why cardo fanatics insist on flogging a dead horse. But it is unacceptable for serious thinkers of economics to ape the cardos.

S: Bravo. Fine overview of the state of economics in the seventies, Teriaki.

T: Thanks. But there is still one more clash of ideas of that time that is rarely discussed nowadays. While economists to this day cannot forecast a recession —they must experience it for two quarters before they know it’s a recession— the problem of ultra-long-term forecasting had been successfully dealt with by researchers of the systems community before the oil crises hit. In 1972, a little book entitled The Limits to Growth presented a suite of models, created under varying assumptions, that forecasted economic, environmental, and population growth trajectories for the entire planet out to the year 2100.

S: Now that’s a long-term forecast!

T: The economists were livid.

S: I’d be livid, too, if I couldn’t forecast six months into the future.

T: You get what you paid to be educated in. Biologists are smart people. They realized they needed the speciality of systems biology in their discipline. Let’s see how ridiculously long it will take the «children of Ricardo» to discover the obvious with system economics. Ricardo is the grandpappy of monetarism.

S: I suppose we should measure the “discovery delay” in centuries.

T: According to economic history, that should be the least inaccurate scale to use. But the scale is open ended, of course. It may well be they never get there.

S: No big deal. They’re sure to snatch a Nobel for that, too.

T: I hope that our listeners take our comments in stride. These people are not really morons, appearances notwithstanding. They’re close, but… Forget it.

S: What did the Limits researchers discover, Teriaki?

T: Coming right up, but first a sketch of background material. Samuelson was the pioneer who first saw the promised land of the true science of economics, which was written on the wall with systems of coupled differential equations. Complex systems, sporting dynamic feedback loops. Pretty big wall, too.

S: Made general relativity look simple. How complex are they as systems?

T: About as complex as it gets in mathematics. Anything more complex, a lot of knowledgeable observers would say, would land you in the Mandelbrot set.

S: His thingy reminds me of the groovy flower-power images of the sixties. A very cute icon he came up with.

T: Well, the Mandelbrot set was mathematically defined and coarsely plotted in 1978 by Robert Brooks and Peter Matelski. Benoit Mandelbrot was the first to see the fractal in all its magnificent detail two years later. He had available the computational resources necessary to draw the object in high resolution.

S: Why isn’t it called the Brooks-Matelski set?

T: Because life is a counter-intuitive nonlinear system. Learn, cardos.

S: All they seem to know and care about is how to make money. Linearly.

T: By hook or crook. These dorks are going to lead humankind to ruin, which includes they themselves. That’s what the Limits researchers found: a collapse.

S: The Great Collapse. Which the cardos dismiss out of hand. Brilliant.

T: They’re gullet stuffers. They don’t think. They just suck. Oh, do they suck.

S: Gut-controlled types? Reflex-actuated zombies?

T: Strictly reflexogenic behaviour. Zero higher cognitive functions. You could lobotomize these clods and no behavioural differences would be discernible.

S: As Limits showed is the case. Tell us about the Great Collapse, Teriaki.

T: Certainly, but let me complete the background info. Samuelson realized we have to delve into the realm of dynamic systems if we aspire to understand the complexities of macroeconomics. Otherwise, we’ll remain stuck in the mire of dogma and myth-believe that lobo-cardos love to wallow in.

S: Lobo-cardos?

T: Lobotomized by nature herself. A bizarre survival strategy for the species, I suspect. A measure of last resort. Nature works in mysterious ways.

S: Most of nature’s experiments have ended in extinction.

T: Yeah, she’s kinda reckless. And we’re doing our best to not let her down.

S: Lemmings.

T: Found only in the Global North, mind you.

S: Good thing we’re down south in the Caribbean.

T: Touch wood. The problem with differential equations is that they are often unsolvable, analytically. Analytical here means solved by some exact, symbolic method of mathematics. Some mathematicians devote their entire professional lives to the search for analytical solutions to messy differential equations.

S: No wonder the cardos prefer their myth-believe dogmas.

T: And not only in economics. But that is another broadcast episode by itself.

S: Being lobotomized, they’re surely reusing the few neurons they have left.

T: Most likely. Now, if solving a solitary differential equation can be difficult, imagine the gargantuan magnitude of the problem of finding solutions to a set of interlocked differential equations, such as those that describe an economy.

S: Simultaneous solutions to all of the wall’s equations. Boggles the mind.

T: General relativity is indeed much easier.

S: Maybe economists should be required to take GR as a prerequisite.

T: Good one. It would drastically reduce the population of economists.

S: We’d get a major benefit at the outset.

T: Fortunately, there is another way to solve differential equations, one which always obtains solutions. This is the numerical solution approach.

S: Let me guess: one uses numbers instead of exact mathematical symbols?

T: Basically, yes. There are methods, algorithms, that can obtain approximate solutions to messy equations that are analytically intractable. Engineering does this all the time. Engineers do not seek exact solutions to problems but instead good approximate solutions that are cost-effective. Works just fine for them.

S: Could you give our listeners a concrete example? Not too complicated.

T: Okay. Mm… Many problems in maths involve the transcendental number pi. Mathematicians use the Greek symbol π to represent the analytically exact value, which has an infinite number of non-repeating decimal digits. Engineers usually use a numerical approximation in their calculations: 3.14 or 3.14159 or whatever degree of precision they need. The engineering solutions will then be slightly off the true analytical values, granted. But this is not a problem since it is always possible to increase the degree of numerical precision if required. So the trick is to solve the equations numerically instead of analytically. There is a bit more to it than that, of course, but this gives you an idea of what’s involved. One plugs in the initial numbers and lets the computer crank out the results.

S: But programming the computer must be a laborious task in itself.

T: Not really, but here’s more good fortune: the computer programme needed to solve systems of differential equations has already been written, tested, and deployed to numerous applications. Samuelson knew that macroeconomics had to delve into the field of dynamic systems, messy though the delving promised to be. Fortunately, Jay W. Forrester, a fellow professor at MIT, engineered the field of system dynamics to tackle such problems. His associates developed the computer software to numerically simulate complex models straightforwardly.

S: This sounds almost too good to be true for real life. Promethean.

T: Life works in serendipitous ways. Life, cardos, not «markets». Dodo-heads.

S: Blinded by their dumbo ideology. We have to get rid of these morons.

T: Indeed! That is key to transcending the Catch-22 of so-called civilization.

S: They’ll say there’s no avoiding the catch. Civilizations always arise because of exploitative thugs: killer warlords, corrupt politicians, crooked merchants…

T: False. One day we will talk of the gentle peoples and their vastly superior societies. Anthropology to the rescue! The crowd roars. But first we must end this episode. There were two operational system dynamics models, one crafted by Forrester and another by the Limits researchers: Donella Meadows and her husband, project director Dennis Meadows; Jørgen Randers; William Behrens; and thirteen other consulting specialists. Both models predicted the collapse of the world order in the 21st century if we did nothing to change our incoherent economic behaviour of seeking perpetual exponential growth in a finite world.

S: Houston, we have a problem. This is the 21st century.

T: The economists had the mother of all fits. They attacked the project and its researchers vehemently, at times saying things that were not true. The ignorant news media had a field day trying to discredit the project. Stupid news people.

S: Teriaki!

T: Present talented company excepted, it goes without saying. Great big smile.

S: … Why all the fuss? Exponential growth cannot go on indefinitely. There’s no need of fancy differential equations to see that.

T: The fuss was about political ideology. Limits showed that capitalism, based on ever-increasing growth, is doomed. That’s why the attacks were so fierce.

S: Hit the cardos right in the gullet. Not even Marx blasted them so well.

T: Economists have serious world-view problems to sort out. All their attacks were doctrinaire verbal arguments: blah blah blah. Not one of them produced a mathematically rigorous riposte of comparable stature to the system dynamics models.

S: That’s all one can expect from political economists. Yackety-yak.

T: Very well then, nearly half a century has gone by and we now have plenty of hard historical data to compare to the Limits’ projections. No yackety-yak.

S: Drum roll, please. Ladies and gentlemen, the facts!

T: Several proficient studies have been made; all agree in their findings. Let’s focus on Graham Turner’s 2014 research paper, “Is Global Collapse Imminent?”

S: Turner is a Principal Research Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne, in Australia. I quote: “The Limits to Growth ‘standard run’ … aligns well with historical data…” “[I]t would appear that the global economy and population is on the cusp of collapse.”

T: I urge our listeners to do a Web search and download the sobering paper. It is widely available online. Do check out the comparative graphs. Shahrazad:

S: That is all the time we have for this episode. Thank you for joining Teriaki and me at Radio Sistema Tropical. Cardinal Points will return next week at its regularly scheduled times. I am Shahrazad Boyko signing off and wishing you a pleasant morning, afternoon, evening, or night, wherever in the world you may happen to be.

This is Radio Sistema Tropical, the Antillean world broadcasting system.

In economics, very rarely is there one unequivocal answer. … Let’s not be too sure that there’s just one best way, our way, and that every other way is something which needs to be fought. … None of us in a dynamic world has arrived at the final word.
—Paul A. Samuelson, “Is Economics a Science?”, interview, UBS Together.

Time is short. We must move quickly if we are to keep future options open.
—Jay W. Forrester, World Dynamics 2nd Ed., May 1973

Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress.
—Sierra Club motto

Editorial Antares ※ Azeta-RST-CP-07-MS.pdf

This story is available for download as
a PDF file for personal reading use.

Editorial Antares
Brooks-Matelski set
Command-line depiction of the Brooks-Matelski set (1978)
Original work by Elphaba, posted at Catalan Wikipedia

Mandelbrot set
The Mandelbrot set
Original work by ArEb

Reality is far more complex than at first visualized.

Turner LTG Economy
Turner LTG Environment
Turner LTG Population

Limits to Growth "standard run" projections with historical data for the
aggregate state variables Economy, Environment, and Population:
• original historical data from 1900 to 1970 (thin solid lines)
• recent historical data from 1970 to 2010 (thick solid lines)
• LTG model projections from 1970 to 2100 (dashed lines).

Source: Turner, G. (2014) "Is Global Collapse Imminent?"
MSSI Research Paper No. 4,
Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute,
The University of Melbourne.
ISBN: 978 0 7340 4940 7

Image credits:

Earth in Space, a cropped version of Apollo 8's Earthrise photo (NASA image AS08-14-2383) by Astronaut William Anders on Christmas Eve, 1968.
Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to the Moon. Public domain.

Brooks-Matelski set facsimile by Elphaba, posted in Wikimedia Commons and graciously placed in the public domain.

Mandelbrot set by ArEb, posted in Wikimedia Commons and graciously placed in the public domain.

Comparative graphs for LTG aggregate state variables Economy, Environment, and Population
by Graham Turner, "Is Global Collapse Imminent?", page 8. Fair use doctrine for non-commercial educational purposes.

Further reading:

The Limits to Growth - read online or download PDF at The Donella Meadows Project

The Long Wave by Donella Meadows
An examination of the “long wave” economic model that predicts political conservatism and sharp economic downturns on a 50-60 year timescale

Ugo Bardi is the author of The Limits to Growth Revisited (Springer 2012).

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