Albert Allen Bartlett
Albert Allen Bartlett (born March 21, 1923 in Shanghai, died September 7, 2013 in Boulder, Colorado) was an emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. As of July 2001[update] Professor Bartlett had lectured over 1,742 times since September, 1969 on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. Bartlett regarded the word combination "sustainable growth" as an oxymoron, since even modest annual percentage population increases will inevitably equate to huge exponential growth over sustained periods of time. He therefore regarded human overpopulation as "The Greatest Challenge" facing humanity.
Bartlett received a B.A. in physics at Colgate University (1944), and an A.M. (1948) and Ph.D. (1951) in physics at Harvard University. Bartlett joined the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder in September 1950. In 1978 he was national president of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1969 and 1970 he served two terms as the elected chair of the four-campus faculty council at the university. He won the Robert A. Millikan award.
Views on population growth
Professor Bartlett often explained how sustainable growth is a contradiction. His view was based on the fact that a modest percentage growth can equate to huge escalations over relatively short periods of time.
Bartlett argued that, over time, compound growth can yield enormous increases. For example, an investor earning a constant annual 7% return on their investment would find their capital doubling within 10 years. But the same exponential power, so advantageous to patient investors, may be potentially calamitous when applied to human population. A population of 10,000 individuals, if it were to grow at a constant rate of 7% per annum, would reach a population size of 10 million after 100 years.
Bartlett regarded overpopulation as "The Greatest Challenge" facing humanity, and promoted sustainable living. He opposed the cornucopian school of thought (as advocated by people such as Julian Lincoln Simon), and referred to it as "The New Flat Earth Society"
J. B. Calvert (1999) has proposed that Bartlett's law will result in the exhaustion of petrochemical resources due to the exponential growth of the world population (in line with the Malthusian Growth Model).
Bartlett made two notable statements relating to sustainability:
"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."
and his Great Challenge:
"Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?"
Bartlett died on September 7, 2013. He was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanor, and is survived by their four daughters—Carol, Jane, Lois and Nancy.
- The Essential Exponential For the Future of Our Planet a collection of essays by Professor Bartlett (2004). Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. ISBN 0-9758973-0-6 
Influence and Legacy
Bartlett's work has been highly influential. As one example, his work on exponential growth and population is referred to in depth in the Crash Course created by Chris Martenson and his organisation Peak Prosperity.
- Exponential growth
- M. King Hubbert, author of the Hubbert Curve.
- Thomas Robert Malthus - the originator of the Malthusian catastrophe argument
- Peak oil
- Albert A. Bartlett Collection - GLMS 103 Retrieved July 2011
- "Al Bartlett, retired CU-Boulder professor, dies at age 90 - Boulder Daily Camera". Dailycamera.com. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- Fred Elbel - Elbel Consulting Services, LLC. "Arithmetic, Population and Energy — a talk by Al Bartlett, Retrieved July 2011". Albartlett.org. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- Albert A. Bartlett (1994). Arithmetic, Population, and Energy (The Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis). Academic Media Services, University of Colorado. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
- "CU-Boulder campus mourns death of longtime, celebrated professor Al Bartlett". 9 Sep 2013.
- "World Population to 2300". United Nations. 2004.
- "International Programs - People and Households - U.S. Census Bureau". Census.gov. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- "Arithmetic, Population & Energy, Part I, at youtube, Retrieved July 2011". Youtube.com. 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- Clark, Susan (2005-01-25). "Professor talks at an exponential rate, Energy Bulletin article by Todd Neff. Retrieved July 2011". Energybulletin.net. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- "Bartlett at hubberpeak.com, Retrieved July 2011". Hubbertpeak.com. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- "Bartlett". Du.edu. Retrieved July 2011.
- Fred Elbel - Elbel Consulting Services, LLC. (2001-07-01). "More information and how to order, Retrieved July 2011". Albartlett.org. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- "Crash Course". YouTube. Peak Prosperity. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- Professor talks at an exponential rate, Energy Bulletin article by Todd Neff. Retrieved July 2011
- Professor Bartlett's website contains background, articles, book "The Essential Exponential", and links to his talk, "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy". Retrieved July 2011
- Professor Bartlett's page at the University of Colorado Retrieved July 2011
- Biography of Dr Bartlett Retrieved July 2011
- "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy" by Professor Albert Bartlett Free audio and video 57 minute lecture. Retrieved July 2011
- "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy" by Professor Albert Bartlett Text of lecture (extracts). Retrieved July 2011
- Analysis of Bartlett's "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy" presentation - Exponentialist website. Retrieved July 2011
- Is There a Population Problem? Ecofuture website. Retrieved July 2011
- The Massive Movement to Marginalise the Modern Malthusian Message article by Professor Bartlett. Retrieved July 2011
- Thoughts on Long-term Energy Supplies - Scientists and the Silent Lie article on energy and population in Physics Today (2004). Retrieved July 2011
- Clean Coal Technology Speech by Andrew McNamara MP on clean coal and report by Professor Bartlett
- Arithmetic, Population & Energy, Part I on YouTube (Part 1 of 8), (parts 2-4 are linked). Retrieved July 2011
- Arithmetic, Population & Energy, Part II on YouTube (Part 5 of 8), (parts 6-8 are linked). Retrieved July 2011
- Arithmetic, Population & Energy @Google (entire video). Retrieved July 2011
- Lecture by Professor Bartlett about the exponential function @Vimeo. Retrieved December 2013
- hour long interview with Professor Bartlett by CU Outreach @Vimeo. Retrieved December 2013
- BLIND SPOT, Documentary, Population & Energy. Retrieved July 2011