April 13, 2009

I Never Argue With Graphs

"Ad Contrarian," people often say to me, "how come you're always so relaxed and nonchalant while the rest of us are so aggravated?"

I say, "Sit down my friend and let's talk." Then I light my pipe, kick off my slippers, and lean back in my rocker.

"We humans have been around this sorry planet for about 200,000 years. The planet has been around for 4.5 billion years. So what measure of the Earth's life have we been part of? The answer is .00004. This is not a large number ."

Then I take out the graph you see above. "You see this graph above?" I say. "This shows human population over the past 12,000 years. For most of that time we were just a minor annoyance. But a couple of hundred years ago we started multiplying like, um, humans. And we became an epidemic.

"There is no way in hell, or more to the point, on Earth, that this growth is sustainable. None.

"Just for a moment, I want you to forget all the nonsense that politicians and poets and holy men and newspapers fill you full of, and take another look at the graph.

"No graph of anything ever in history was able to continue up a straight line. It just doesn't work that way. And this one won't either. I promise.

"Which means catastrophe is coming. It may be environmental, or cosmic, or nuclear, or medical. I have no idea. It may be quick or it may be long and drawn out. Who knows? It may be tomorrow or a hundred years from tomorrow. Can't tell. But the graph says it's coming, and I never argue with graphs.

"So, why am I nonchalant? Sure I want the A's to win the American League West, but I'm not going to get too aggravated if they don't. Yes, I wouldn't mind getting the Nobel Prize, or the Coke account, but I'm not going to go all pissy if they don't come through. And if my candidate doesn't win the next election... well, I never really believed he could stop the graph anyway.

"Oh, and while you're up, would you mind bringing me some ice?"

This is a repost.

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