Exponential Growth and Earth Hour

Because of the problem of nearly exponential growth, I wager that making a complete genealogical chart for any one person for say 5 generations forward and back, including in-laws and cousins, is a challenging mathematical-logical conundrum that is unsolvable on any single piece of paper. John once pointed out to me that the cousins and in-laws that really start accumulating very, very rapidly. Also: “most genealogy models show one to have more potential ancestors than human beings to have ever lived” if you go back far enough. ( see https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/3677238/exponential-growth-and-decay-model-for-human-genealogy-common-ancestor 

By coincidence, some of my students are studying exponential growth at the moment, and I will endeavor to create a problem for them on this. The cousins and in-laws are the tricky part. A logistic curve makes more sense. https://xaktly.com/LogisticFunctions.html

No wonder that  numerous purpose-built software apps  have been rolled out over the years to handle the genealogical problem. I’ve not sunk time into learning SQL or any other relational databases, but I’m glad there are people like Ellen who for whatever reason desire to do so!

My bottom line is that all of humans are cousins or brothers or sisters or whatever. We are all one family. Some of our ancestors have done wonderful things, others have been monsters, and we should try not to emulate the monsters but learn from the good that our foremothers and forefathers have done. We only have one planet.  I’m an amateur astronomer, and I’ve looked through scopes and everything I see out there is more inhospitable than anybody’s imagined Hell. While we can probably not wipe out all of life on earth even if we tried our very, very worst, we seem to have acquired the power to make it into a place that nobody would *want* to live. Let’s not go that way!

Evidence shows that climate cycles are kind of fragile, and that seeming stasis for thousands or millions of years can change, and has changed, in mere decades or even overnight! (qv Chixclub). And we as a species are doing an excellent job of wiping out the best parts of our planet – generally for huge private profits for a relative few, who offered steady employment for a somewhat larger number of others who actually did the dirty and dangerous work of destruction — often despite objections from folks who foresaw dangers – and to the detriment of the rest of humanity and all life on earth.

A reminder of the things that humans have completely or almost wiped out over the past two centuries:

* a large fraction of all the jungles and forests

* many of the animals we see in zoos (rhinos, tigers, elephants, pandas)

* the innumerable cod, whales, certain oysters, buffalo, passenger pigeons, certain frogs, American chestnuts, elms, and ash; brazil trees, many mangroves and coral reefs, many insects, and more. 

* and yet we keeping on burning fossil fuels and chopping down forests for pasture or plantations as if it won’t make any difference. 

It won’t help things for one branch of the human family to try to wipe out another branch — the wars devastate things even more. If we dig up and burn and cut down and pollute everything and make this world uninhabitable, there is no other place to go, despite what certain ‘visionaries’ might claim.

We have won some battles against this in the past. My own parents took us kids on a lot of canoe trips here in the MD-DC-VA area back in the 1950s and 1960s, and I have continued that into the 2020a. I recall that in the old days, quite often there would be huge piles of soap suds below certain rapids on certain streams. This nasty effect was from the (a) the particular types of detergents that were legal to use back then and (b) the general lack of effective sewage treatment. Laws were passed forbidding those types of detergents, and lots of sewage treatment plants got built. Result? Problem solved! At least here in the US.

Other countries with corrupt governments, not so much. My friends from India and China say the air pollution there is unbelievably bad, and the water pollution is even worse.

Another problem that has been pretty much solved, world wide**: Freon and the ozone hole. It was a surprise to many that refrigerants and cans of spray paint or deodorant held a chemical that ended up wiping out the ozone layer that protects the earth from most of the dangerous UV rays. But it was shown, scientifically, to be the case; individuals and scientists made their case; and governments around the world stopped manufacturers from using the bad stuff and use other stuff instead, and they did! The ozone hole is now steadily shrinking, and air conditioners of today are both quieter and more efficient than those of yesteryear. 

So victories are possible.

My little campaign right now involves light pollution. Along with other members of the DC Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, we are trying to get individuals and businesses and institutions to shut off all non-essential lighting for one hour here in DC, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm on March 25 (next month) as part of Earth Hour.

Why bother?

First of all, light pollution is indeed a problem. Only a very small fraction of the people of the world can go out their front door on a clear night and see the same Milky Way that **all** of our ancestors could see if you go back 200 years. Join One Of The World’s Largest Movements for Nature | Earth Hour 2022 It’s not nice to live in a prison yard where the lights are on, real bright, all night. Plus, all those lights have really, really bad impacts on human health and on migrating birds, and all the nocturnal insects. (When was the last time you had to clean off a windshield full of insects, or seen a cloud of them around a street light? In fact, careful surveys of insect populations show that the number and mass of them are plummeting everywhere they have been measured over the a period of decades. No insects, then no food. Our nice little planet was formed in indescribably violent cycles of events (supernovae and such, repeated at somewhat random intervals over the past 13 or 14 billion years) that astronomers are just now figuring out. It is an awful shame that just as we are beginning to understand how the universe has evolved, most humans no longer see any part of it except for our tiny little planet, the Sun, and the Moon. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/02/01/cut-light-pollution-health/ ) And it’s getting exponentially worse every year. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adf4952#:~:text=Analysis%20of%20data%20from%20the,in%20less%20than%208%20years.

Join One Of The World’s Largest Movements for Nature | Earth Hour 2022 Thank you for taking part in Earth Hour 2022! Let’s keep the momentum going ’til Earth Hour 2023 next year – 25 …

We know that this one hour of relative dimming won’t in itself change much. But if we can organize this, then we can do more – for example, figure out how to properly shield all those street lights, porch lights, and so on; to fix their emission spectrum away from the blue end; and to have them turn off when nobody’s around. While still enabling people to get around safely and to be safe at night.

So if you know anybody who is in charge of lighting up a flag pole, a monument, a playing field, or advertising messages, see if you can persuade them to join this little movement, and to turn off all non-essential lighting that is visible from the outside. For just one hour: 8:30 to 9:30 pm, Saturday, March 25, 2023.

See if you can get building managers to turn off all those office lights as well for that hour.

If you are at home, turn off your porch light. If you need the lights on inside your home or work place during that time, then consider pulling the curtains.

Guy Brandenburg, 


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