Bill Nye, confused science guy

Bill Nye, science guy, maybe. Math guy, not so much. Here is an excerpt from Nye’s speech to graduates of Johns Hopkins:

When my father was graduated from Hopkins in 1939 and my mother from Goucher in 1942, the world was home to 2.3 billion people. That number has gotten somewhat larger recently.

My parents took me to the Worlds’ Fair in New York City in 1965. I remember well, what to a little kid seemed like, a huge display depicting the estimated human population of the world. It was getting larger, counting up by one every seven seconds or so. I was very disappointed, because we had just missed the number changing from 2,999,999,999 to 3 billion humans on Earth. Well, you all lived through the transition from 5 to 6 billion. If you look at a similar population clock today, it says about 6.7 billion, and it skips through three or four births each second. By the time you reach your billionth second, when you’re a little over six months into your 31st year, we will probably be over 12 billion and on our way to 15 billion humans on Earth.

Say what? When recent graduates are 31 — that is, in about ten years — we will have nearly doubled our population, from 6.7 billion to 12 billion?

I don’t think so, Bill.


4 Responses to Bill Nye, confused science guy

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Joe — Happy Father’s Day!

  2. Brute says:

    On Confusion:

    James Johnson and Barack Obama’s Confusion on the Issues

  3. Ric Merritt says:

    There’s actually a serious issue buried in there as well: estimates of future population growth and of the 21st-century peak number hardly ever seem to take into account the near certainty that growth, and therefore the peak, will be more and more tightly constrained in the coming decades by various limits. Hint: it’s really hard to tell exactly which limits, where, when, and how, but it’s safe to predict that they will interact and feed back mutually. Not in a good way. And, an important class of limits is the inability of real humans to squeeze out some unavailable theoretical maximum out of the other well-known limited resources.

    My bottom-line amateur guess: I’d bet against getting anywhere near 15B, or 12B. More like 9, or 8, then back down, more quickly than we’d prefer.

  4. Jay Alt says:

    Perhaps Nye’s broader point of diminishing resources isn’t urgent.
    Let the commodification of the earth continue . . .
    Nye needs an honest agent to help with baseline issues, maybe RP is available.
    Or Lindzen to clarify tangential differences between the Gulf Stream and MOC.
    Okay I’ll hold the irony and say it – The story’s utility is lost on me. I think you can do better.
    Btw, Happy father’s day.