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   28 More Years of the American Way of Life?

THE OLDUVAI THEORY:

28 More Years of the American Way of Life?

      “[America's] resources seemed inexhaustible [in 1500]. However, the existence of the new lands encouraged an attitude not unlike that of Alice's Mad Tea party. When the tea and cakes were exhausted at one seat, the natural thing was to move on and occupy the next seat.
       “As time passed, the tea table of the Americas had proved not to be inexhaustible. What many of us fail to realize is that the last four hundred years are a highly special period in the history of the world.
       “This is partly the result of increased communication, but also of an increased mastery of nature which, on a limited planet like the earth, may prove in the long run to be an increased slavery to nature.”
       —Polymath Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), written in 1950

      The above quote is an excerpt from an address called “The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge” delivered by Richard C. Duncan, Ph.D. at the Pardee Keynote Symposia, Geological Society of America Summit 2000, held in Reno, Nevada on November 13, 2000.
       Dr. Duncan began his speech with:

“The Olduvai theory has been called unthinkable, preposterous, absurd, dangerous, self-fulfilling, and self-defeating. I offer it, however, as an inductive theory based on world energy and population data and on what I’ve seen during the past 30 years in some 50 nations on all continents except Antarctica. It is also based on my experience in electrical engineering and energy management systems, my hobbies of anthropology and archaeology, and a lifetime of reading in various fields.
       “The theory is defined by the ratio of world energy production (use) and world population. The details are worked out. The theory is easy. It states that the life expectancy of Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years: 1930-2030.”
See the entire abstract of Dr. Duncan’s speech here.


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This story was published on September 4, 2002.
  
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