TED Conversations

Mark Hurych


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Imagine a scenario this century that is very bleak for agriculture. What do you think we should do to address humanity's thrivability?

Suppose two things:
Suppose that the food producing carrying capacity (the number of people that can be fed from arable land) of the Earth within this century becomes less than one billion due to climate change, what do you think we should do to address thrivability? Suppose that you had all the necessary resources to act. For full credit, apply empathy, logic, and self-integrating system properties. Yes, this might be on the final exam.

Jeremy Rifkin,

Paul Gilding,

Ray Kurzweil,

Michelle Holliday,


Closing Statement from Mark Hurych

Thanks to everyone that participated. I apologize to anyone who might have felt slighted.

The answer I got here is that people are on many different islands of being about humanity's current reality. We all have hopes and fears but our paradigms I've found are unexpectedly different. Our perspectives and priorities sometimes don't even seem to have common ground.

I very much want to find that common ground, across cultures, across the globe, across everything that separates and isolates us. One way I plan to address this yearning is by tuning my questions to be more inclusive and collective.

I feel that art does this, pulls us together and gives us common ground, even across language barriers and across time. I want to be good. This sounds so strange but I want to be a good ancestor. I don't see myself as an artist but I would very much like to do something for the greater good the way a composer or an artist might leave behind an inspiring artifact.


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    Dec 29 2012: There is a principle called the "logistic grow curve." Simply put, animals populations increase when conditions are favorable, and decrease when the available resources become limited.

    "The logistic equation (sometimes called the Verhulst model or logistic growth curve) is a model of population growth first published by Pierre Verhulst (1845, 1847). The model is continuous in time, but a modification of the continuous equation to a discrete quadratic recurrence equation known as the logistic map is also widely used.


    "The Verhulst equation was published after Verhulst had read Thomas Malthus' An Essay on the Principle of Population. Verhulst derived his logistic equation to describe the self-limiting growth of a biological population. The equation is also sometimes called the Verhulst-Pearl equation following its rediscovery in 1920. Alfred J. Lotka derived the equation again in 1925, calling it the law of population growth."

    also see: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Logistic_growth

    For those that care to understand the complexity of the problem, see:

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      Dec 29 2012: I believe we are talking about similar trends albeit with different elements involved. Peak oil and peak farm land reflect peak population in concept. A logistic growth curve seems to work with all other variables set. The issue is not that the carrying capacity is low now, but rather will be held low by a change that turns once arable land into desert. The tree line moves north at some speed as well, but I understand that the over-all effect is a reduction of available land for growing food. I do not mean to suggest that we should welcome a wiped out world population, but rather that we should collectively become architects of our future. Collective intelligence itself is a field of study and an appropriate tool, as is geo-engineering, and alternate economies.

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