All our science, measured against
reality, is primitive and childlike--
and yet it is the most precious thing we have.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Planetforlife is written
in the spirit of scientific inquiry. The goal of science is to discover the truth, even if the
truth is counter-intuitive or unpleasant. Science is not separate from the everyday
world. Science is asking questions and testing hypotheses. A successful farmer or hunter
living 10,000 years ago did this. Children know they need to understand the world so
they form hypotheses and they test them. That is why they ask endless questions as any parent knows.
are extraordinary and for that reason they should be examined with great
skepticism. Please consider these predictions with the frame of mind of a
scientist. A good scientist has an unquenchable desire to know and--equally
important--a strong desire not to be fooled. Quantities that can be objectively
measured will be used to support arguments that appeal to logic. These arguments
should be persuasive regardless of the reader's political or religious beliefs.
Arguments and the supporting evidence are presented together whenever possible.
Emotional polemics and histrionics are avoided.
We humans, because of our numbers and our technology, are in control of this
spaceship we call Earth. We must realize that the Earth does not come with an
operating manual and that the Earth's natural resources, though generous, are
finite. There seems to be little public awareness of the oil and gas depletion
problem although the facts are readily available.
My name is Jack Kisslinger and I live in Madison, Wisconsin. Planetforlife is a
personal effort, inspired by my belief that the coming world energy crisis needs
immediate and widespread attention. My interest in the oil depletion problem
started early in 2003 when I realized how different the world will be without abundant and cheap fossil fuel.
I am optimistic by nature although this website warns of
several dire crises. My wife will attest--I am not easily alarmed although this
website is intended to raise the alarm. (The Y2K "crisis" did not alarm
me in the slightest.) I would characterize myself as a hardheaded realist. I enjoy tennis, backpacking, and playing the piano.
Niether politics nor religion belong here. But it is hard to write anything substantial that does not contain
hints of the author's religion and politics. For this I apologize.
I have a
strong background in science and technology. I
worked as an engineer in industry for more than 20 years. Since 1986, I have been a
self-employed consultant, specializing in systems with "embedded" computers.
Here are some facts about my background:
- Degree in physics from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Chief architect of a series of computers with applications
in analytical chemistry.
- Chief architect of a special purpose computer that
performed Fourier analysis.
- Chief architect of a portable computer based sleep analysis
- Designed a portable device for muscle rehabilitation.
- Designed a data system for a Fourier transform infrared
- Designed a heart rate monitor for cardiac rehabilitation.
- Evaluated a nanotechnology infrared detector at Stanford
- Designed a high voltage controller for an X-ray
I strongly believe that scientific literacy is a good thing.
The beginning of my scientific literacy began when I read 1 2 3 Infinity
by George Gamow as a teenager. It must be good because it is still in print. Many
scientists say 1 2 3 Infinity was the spark that launched their
scientific careers. Yet it is short and whimsical and suitable for older children.
I also recommend Physics for Poets by Robert H. March, Asimov
on Physics or Asimov on Chemistry by Issac Asimov. Carl Sagan
has written many books and the Cosmos television program. A major
motion picture, Contact, is based on one of his books. Anything
written by Carl can be recommended.
Comments, suggestions and encouragement are welcome. I will try to reply to all questions. I would very much
like to know about errors in facts, errors in
logic, and broken links. Click the icon or e-mail me at:
(Floobydust is a word of uncertain origin that means
"doesn't fit anywhere else.")
Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States
are the only countries not using the metric system. Planetforlife
believes that clear thinking is easier in the metric system. However, oil is often measured in barrels and natural gas is often
measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), units honored by tradition. The unit most likely
to be understood will be used.
Thomas Malthus was right. There are limits to human population growth. Malthus
did not appreciate the effect of fossil fuel on human population growth and so his
timing was a little off. Human population grows exponentially because the growth rate
depends on the number of people. Food production does not grow exponentially. Something
will limit the amount of food that can be produced. It might be a dearth of agricultural land,
water, sunlight or fossil fuel; it is hard to know which. There is no plausible way to
escape the consequences of exponential growth. We humans must practice birth
control or death control will be forced upon us. Learn more about Malthus at
The reindeer on St. Matthew Island provide a
truly terrifying example of what could happen if we humans do not learn how to control
our numbers to match our resources.