Category Archives: laws of the jungle

The Greatest Shortcoming of (Planners)

Albert Bartlett’s lecture “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy” goes a long way toward explaining the power of exponential growth and the consequences of pursuing infinite growth in a finite world. He starts off the presentation with his famous assertion that “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

As I’ve discussed numerous times, we planners need to understand the implications of infinite growth before we can imagine – let alone create – workable arrangement of living for an increasingly crowded and resource-stripped world. Toward that end I urge you to check out the video below for a tape recording of his lecture:


For a briefer explanation of the power of the exponential function in the context of our dire situation, check out this segment of Chris Martenson’s “Crash Course”:


Simplifying Complexity

The subject of complexity is at the heart of understanding how the city works as I have explained in a series of posts starting here. Perhaps no one more eloquently describes the implications of decreasing energy inputs to our cities than Joseph Tainter, anthropologist and historian at Utah State University. Below, click on the link to hear an episode of The Extraenvironmentalist featuring Tainter. His insights inform responsible planning policies that we all should consider.