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Cultures, Technology, and a Sustainable World View. Pete Kaslik. Overview of this Lecture. Why is a Math Teacher Talking About a Sustainable World View?. A Brief History of Humanity. A Graphic Look at Humanity’s Current Situation – The Good, the Bad and the Scary.

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Cultures, Technology, and a Sustainable World View

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    1. Cultures, Technology, and a Sustainable World View Pete Kaslik

    2. Overview of this Lecture Why is a Math Teacher Talking About a Sustainable World View? A Brief History of Humanity A Graphic Look at Humanity’s Current Situation – The Good, the Bad and the Scary Choosing a Goal For Humanity How To Achieve the Goal

    3. Why is a Math Teacher Talking About a Sustainable World View? • When will I use this? • Not all math has authentic real world applications • Show, don’t tell • Math 107 has liberal course outcomes • Theme-based vs diverse

    4. Why is this Math Teacher Talking About a Sustainable World View? • Increased understanding that my view of the world has been influenced by my culture, other people and things I’ve read • I have wondered how many times experts were wrong about what they taught. So how much of what I now believe to be true is also wrong? • What if we could strip away all cultural influences and expert opinions and give as unbiased as possible assessment of the current state of the Earth?

    5. A brief history of Humanity This graph about "hominids“ refers to members of the family of humans, Hominidae, which consists of all species on our side of the last common ancestor of humans and living apes.

    6. A Brief History of Humanity Population Culture Technology /

    7. Technology • Technology is the temporary state of matter as it transitions from being a resource to a useless element in a sink.

    8. Feedback Loop • Population + + + • Technological Development

    9. Cultural Development • Thousands of cultures on this planet • Probably millions or billions if life exists on other planets • Most accept the culture into which they were born

    10. Cultural Development “Other cultures are not a failed attempt at being us. They are a unique expression of what it means to be human and alive.” (Wade Davis)

    11. Other Cultural Ideas I Learned this Summer From “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes” by Daniel Everett – A book about the Pirahã (pee-da-HAN) • Treat young children as adults • Don’t understand war or suicide • Expect proof of claims • No creation myths or death myths • Non-materialistic • Do not seek revenge

    12. Other Cultural Ideas I Learned this Summer From “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall – A book about the Tarahumara (Raramuri) • Running is a cultural value • The sole means of competition • Runs of 30 to 100 miles in a day are common • Gentle people who run from trouble

    13. My View of the Dominant Culture of Today • Individuals are more important than the community • Increasing individual and corporate wealth (and power) is the goal • Strive to be number 1 • Technology is always better than “non-technology”

    14. Cultural Transitions • Some cultures grew to become the dominant culture in a region or world • In spite of their population, cultural values and technology, all past dominant cultures are no longer dominant. • Can this happen to the US? • Can this happen to humanity?

    15. Reasons for the Collapse of Former Great Societies (from Collapse, by Jared Diamond) • Environmental collapse • Climate change • Hostile neighbors • Decreased support of friendly neighbors • Society’s response to its problems

    16. What if We Could Pick Our Cultural Ideas? • Shop at the Anthropology Super Mall • Each cultural idea would need a list of side effects • What would be the criteria for picking cultural values?

    17. Judging Our Cultural World Views • By knowledge? • By technology? • By health and longevity? • By happiness? • By the length of time the culture has survived?

    18. A Cultural Criterion • I propose we judge cultural world views by both their short term and the long term consequences to people, nature and the planet. • Short term – immediate though 1 generation • Long term – 1 to 1,000 generations

    19. A Graphic Look at Humanities Current Situation • The Good • The Bad • The Scary

    20. Quantitative Assessment of the World (QAW) • A mathematical (graphic) look at the short term consequences of the dominant culture’s world view with implications for the long term consequences

    21. Health and Wealth • Gapminder World

    22. Knowledge Scientific Papers Published Each Year

    23. Technology

    24. US Population Graph

    25. World Population Graph

    26. Gini Coefficient

    27. Gini Coefficient

    28. Consequences of Wealth Disparity Income Inequality and Homicides (r = 0.47, p = 0.02) SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income Alternative Poverty Estimates in the United States: 2003, Report P60, n. 227, Tables B-1 and B-3, pp. 18, 20.

    29. Consequences of Wealth Disparity Income Inequality and Social Mobility (r = 0.93, p < 0.01)

    30. National Debt

    31. Health Care

    32. Prison Population

    33. Peak Oil in the US

    34. Peak Oil in the World

    35. Oil Discoveries Source: Source:

    36. Summary of Oil Production Status • Of the 65 largest oil producing countries, 54 have passed their peak

    37. Non-Conventional Oil Tar Sands produce 82% more greenhouse gases than conventional oil According to Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the tar sands annually consumes 20 percent of Canada's natural gas demand.

    38. Driving Mileage

    39. Natural Gas

    40. Coal Appalachia Coal – Peak in 1940

    41. World Peak Coal Study Concludes “Peak Coal” Will Occur Close to 2011 2 August 2010 A multi-Hubbert analysis of coal production by Tadeusz Patzek at The University of Texas at Austin and Gregory Croft at the University of California, Berkeley concludes that the global peak of coal production from existing coalfields will occur close to the year 2011. After 2011, the production rates of coal and CO2 decline, reaching 1990 levels by the year 2037, and reaching 50% of the peak value in the year 2047. It is unlikely that future mines will reverse the trend predicted in this business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, according to the study, which was published in the journal Energy.

    42. Electric Energy Production Distribution of Sources

    43. EROEI

    44. Can we Solve the Energy Problem with Renewable Energy? • In 1965, humanity produced 5 TeraWatts (1012 Watts) of power. • In 2005, we produced 15 TeraWatts. All Energy information provided by Saul Griffith in a podcast from the Long Now Foundation. Saul Griffith is an inventor and a 2007 MacArthur Fellow Friday, January 16, 2009, 4:00:00 PM | (The Long Now Foundation) Climate Change Recalculated   podcast-2009-01-16-griffith.mp3

    45. A Potential Energy Portfolio • Currently Available • 3 TW from Fossil Fuels (to limit greenhouse gases) • 1 TW from Nuclear • 0.5 TW from Hydro • Need 11.5 more TW

    46. A Potential Energy Portfolio • Build over the next 25 years • 2 TW photovoltaic • 2 TW Solar Thermal • 2 TW Wind • 2 TW Geothermal • 3 TW Nuclear • 0.5 Biofuels (so we can fly jets)

    47. What is Needed to Achieve This? • Produce 100 square meters of photovoltaic cells every second for 25 years • Install 50 square meters of mirrors for solar thermal every second for 25 years • Build one 3-megawatt wind turbine (100 meter diameter) every 5 minutes for next 25 years

    48. What is Needed to Achieve This? • Build a 3 gigawatt nuclear plant every week for the next 25 years (US has 8-10 planned for next decade). • Bring a 300 MW steam turbine on line (for geothermal) every day for the next 25 years. • For biofuels, fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool with genetically engineered algae every second for the next 25 years. This would be approximately like covering Wyoming with the algae.

    49. An Effort Equivalent to Retooling for WWII • GM and Ford combined could make 1 wind turbine every 5 minutes • Nokia, Intel, AMD, Apple could produce the necessary photovoltaic cells • Coke and Pepsi in 10 years could make enough solar thermal mirrors using the aluminum that would be used for cans to produce 2 TW of power. • Necessary land area for all of this would be the 7th largest country in the world (between Australia and India).