everything has its time

Ive heard some pretty pessimistic stuff lately, and I wish to allay any fears regarding the state of the world. First, I read an article citing a study predicting the extinction of all fish species (except jellyfish, although theyre technically cnidarians) by 2048, if I recall correctly. Then, I saw a paleontologist on The Colbert Report who said that man could be going extinct (this point was also raised in my ecology class).

There are several reasons that neither of these issues is either real, or a problem. Regarding the fish, who needs em? Look, if the fishing industry wasnt tossing chum at me left and right trying to get me to eat sushi or, worst of all, caviar, maybe fish would have a chance. But as it stands, theyre dragging up all kinds of disgusting stuff that should remain down there creating ecologically-diverse ecosystems so stuff thats not so disgusting can flourish. Regardless, if the fishing industry doesnt see fit to change their methods, Ill be fine without fish as an option for dinner. They smell terrible, theyre entirely too healthy, and they just dont taste that good. It would be a shame to not have any killer shark or boy riding whale movies though.

So what about mans impending extinction? Man has been dominating this planet for as long as I can remember (and, apparently, as long as recorded history can remember), so I think weve learned a thing or two about existing. Mans population is continuing to grow on a global level, increasing ~1.3% per year. Though this is down from ~2.1% growth between 1965 and 1970, were becoming more stable and itll actually be a good thing when fertility equals mortality. Of course, being a religious man, Ive got to believe that were going to be around here long enough to get whats coming to us, but even those who dont subscribe to such beliefs can look at the numbers and see that were not declining. Like any species, were being held in check by natural devices (disease, war, natural disaster, etc.), but anyone who thinks were being wiped out needs to consider the size of the average Mexican family.

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5 comments to everything has its time

  • Trey

    I heard a pretty interesting application (theory by a completely unqualified guy to make the theory) of Moores Law (That thing which states that in more words processors get twice as fast every 18 months.) He applied it to other real world fields of study (ie medicine was the most interesting), by pointing out that life expectancy was beginning to follow the trend of Moores Law (he had a bit of evidence, but it was kind of inconclusive). Which seems OK, until you realize that eventually life-expectancy would be growing by more than 1 year/year. Therefore, everyone born after a certain year would live forever. This could be problematic if it worked, because it begins to interfere with life. (Which in the end was his implied point: Moores Law will eventually taper off when it interferes with life.) Guys name is Ray Kurzweil.

  • Moores Law always struck me as a load of crap. How it got the designation law is baffling. Its just a random assertion that companies have fought to prove true over the years.

  • Trey

    Its more than an assertion. At very least its a theory. Over the last 30 years it has been followed almost to a T, even though we are ahead of the curve currently. There are a lot of stipulations that arent thought of most of the time. It is possible to make a processor now that would be astronomically fast, have tons of cache memory on it, multiple core, the works, etc. There just happens to be another stipulation to Moores Law that accounts for the price. There is a lot to it, but it is an interesting theory.

  • Its something he came up with based on an observation of current trends - seems assertive to me. Like you said, were the ones making it hold true. For that reason, its designation as a law seems skeptical to me, since it could easily be broken by over- or underachieving.

    A theory would be an explanation for the trends. Simply saying that theyre explained by summarizing the trends doesnt really theorize anything. Evolution, cells, and even the germ basis for disease are all still technically theories, despite overwhelming evidence on their behalf. It seems unfair for Moores observation to be more credible than those. But yes, interesting nonetheless.

  • Trey

    Haha, yeah. Anything 30 years old in almost every field is considered new. However, in computer science, 30 years ago was just the beginning