As our series honoring the 40th anniversary of The Limits to Growth study (and best-selling book) continues, I thought we should review our progress in the exponential growth demonstration experiment started with this post on March 11 . Please don’t forget to take the Pledge to Think Small, and to join our Worldwide GrowthBusters House Party on Earth Day weekend (April 20-22).
The exponential growth demonstration is very simple, something you should try at home with your family, or at work with your colleagues. It’s guaranteed to stimulate some interesting conversation. It’s based on this story:
In the GrowthBusters film, I share a few moments from retired physics professor Al Bartlett’s world famous lecture about exponential growth:
It’s great to see Al’s lecture illustrated by our animation, but there’s nothing like seeing it play out on your kitchen table. So, I suggested you get a bag of wheat, rice, cheerios, marbles or whatever you have handy, and a glass jar or pitcher, and try this yourself. That’s what we’ve been doing here at GrowthBusters World Headquarters. Each day we double the wheat in our beaker. Here’s our progress so far:
Day 1 – 1 grain
Day 2 – 2 grains
Day 3 – 4 grains
Day 4 – 8 grains
Day 5 – 16 grains
Day 6 – 32 grains
Day 7 – 64 grains
Day 8 – 128 grains
Day 9 – 256 grains
Day 10 – 512 grains
Day 11 – 1,024 grains
Now we’re ready for Day 12. Double the 1,024 and we now have 2,048 grains of wheat. Piece of cake! We can keep doing this forever, right?
Dave Gardner is the director of the new documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, which uncovers the cultural forces that keep us pursuing growth in the face of overwhelming evidence we’ve outgrown the planet.
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