February 13th, 2003

In regard to yesterday’s post of Humanity’s Future, I send a brief note of thank you to Mr. Brian Holtz. His response with my comments are as follows.

Dear Dr. Wilken,
You wrote:

I found your article as the first return of a Google search for Humanity’s Future. While you seem unaware of the fossil fuel depletion-overpopulation-global warming crisis, 
I would have to be living in a cave somewhere 🙂 not to be aware of the reasons why so many people think these three phenomena constitute crises.  Indeed, I discuss all three of these challenges in a part of my Futurology writing that you may have missed.
By contrast, (an admittedly brief) inspection of your site yields no evidence that you are aware of the (by far less well-known) arguments that these are not crises.  The most notable work in this field of thought is Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, but searching your site for his name and book yields only a single mention (in a broken-link footnote of a piece about the Singularity). If you want to remain an eco-doomsayer, I’d heavily advise you not to read Simon’s book. 🙂  It’s hard to take seriously any doomsaying presentation that doesn’t address Simon’s analysis.  If you know of any specific counter-arguments to Simon’s work, I’d be very interested in a reference.

TW-> I am aware of the work of Julian Simon and have read parts of his book Ultimate Resource. (Thanks, I fixed the broken link.) While I would like to believe his premise, my careful reading and review of numerous equally qualified scientists makes him seem naive. I too believe in the unlimited nature of “knowing”, what I do not believe in is the unlimited nature of water, air, soil and fossil fuel on a finite planet.
That said, I don’t view myself as an eco-doomsayer. I don’t see myself as an eco-pessimist or an eco-optimist. I strive to be an eco-realist. As a practicing physician, I am called upon every day to prognosticate. My patients want to know what the future holds for them. I spend a great deal of time explaining that the future will be determined by the choices they make. If they eat sensibly, exercise regularly, avoid tobacco and consume alcohol in moderation, they will have a much better future than if they do the opposite. I think the same is true for humanity’s future. If we humans work together, stop wasting the fossil fuels, control our human population, protect nature and biodiversity, we will have a better future than if we do the opposite.
I also found no references to John McCarthy’s site about Progress and its Sustainability — I highly recommend it for Future Positive.
TW-> I am familiar with John McCarthy, because of my interest in human and artificial intelligence. His views on Progress and its Sustainability are to me very much like Simon’s in that they are both physically and biologically naive. It is not my purpose to rebut or critique the works of either Simon or McCarthy. I believe they were/are both good men writing what they believed to be the truth. However since you asked, others have refuted their works for example see: 1) A Review of Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource by Herman E. Daly, 2) Correcting myths from Julian Simon, and 3) The Myth of : John McCarthy’s Sustainable Progress.
My focus has been on the careful work of many writers. See: E.O. Wilson’s Vanishing Point,  Richard Duncan’s 1996 paper on the Olduvai Theory, and his  followup paper of November 2000. This page from the Running On Empty Discussion Group website provides an up-to-date summary of the fossil fuel energy crisis, and includes Richard Duncan’s March 2001 forecast. I also recommend two papers by Jay Hanson, Energy Synopsis and A Means of Control . For those who like their Truth unvarnished, the whole story can be found at Jay Hanson’s excellent website. Also see: Colin J. Campbell’s address to Parliament. Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherr‘re in Scientific American, March 1998, L.F. Ivanhoe, Get Ready For Another Oil Shock, and Matthew Simmons who is one of the leading energy advisors to President George Bush and the United States Congress.
But, I am not so interested in what is wrong, but what is right, and in how we can make thinks work better. I am a synergic scientist. My field of study is  “working together”. There are many things we can do to make our human future positive. See some of my writings: A Synergic Future, ORTEGRITY, GIFTegrity (brief)(PDF) (scientific basis), The Unified Stress Concept, Protecting Humanity , Beyond War , Crisis: Danger & Opportunity, Dual World, Tensegrity, What is a Time-binding Trust?, What is a ‘knowing’utility?, and the UnCommon Sense Library.
I still found that your article made interesting reading, and the scope of your thinking is to be much admired. I have taken the liberty of reposted it at my website Future Positive with credit and links to your websites.
Best wishes,
Timothy Wilken, MD 
I appreciate your inclusion of it on your impressive site; feel free to also include the rest of my writing on Futurology:

  • Environmental & Political Challenges to Human Progress (2000)  
  • Possible Future Global Catastrophes (2000)
  • A Timeline of the Future of Humanity and the Universe (2000)

    TW-> Thank you Brian for the kind words and the permission to repost your papers. As I said in the first note, I much admire the scope of your thinking, and am in agreement with much of what you say. I commend you for working so hard to increase human understanding.

  • Comments are closed.