The limits of growth (5×8 – 4/6/12)

A 40-year-old prediction of doom is ‘on track,’ opening day, hockey’s shame, a tale of two Marines, and it’s time to crack down on mascot abuse.


People, we’ve got only 18 years to prepare for the next global economic collapse. MIT researchers predicted the collapse by 2030 “if people continue to consume the world’s resources at the current pace is still on track,” Yahoo! reports. Surprise! They made that prediction 40 years ago.

Now, Australian physicist Graham Turner, writing in Smithsonian Magazine, says it’s entirely accurate.

However, the study also noted that unlimited economic growth was possible, if governments forged policies and invested in technologies to regulate the expansion of humanity’s ecological footprint. Prominent economists disagreed with the report’s methodology and conclusions. Yale’s Henry Wallich opposed active intervention, declaring that limiting economic growth too soon would be “consigning billions to permanent poverty.”

Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”

The comments section of the Smithsonian paper is well worth the read, although we favor this fascinating observation:

It is interesting to note that the graphs are still on track, although those 30 years were marked by very big events, not what just happened in the past decade. So the internet was almost not used at all in business in the 70s, also the communism fell and the USSR was broken up in the 90s. These events had enormous impact.

We’ll check back in in 40 years to see how it turned out.

Oh, and happy Friday to you all!


I’m not really so naive that I believe baseball is still the national pastime, but there’s something about the opening day of baseball season that football, or hockey, and certainly basketball, can’t touch. I’m out of cliches to try to put my finger on it at my age, but I invite you to. Let’s just goof off today until the first pitch.

Twins Anthem – Minnesota Culture Club [ORIGINAL] from MN Culture Club on Vimeo.

Related: Take me out to the parking lot. Now you can reserve parking spots at the ballgame, reports.


In the aftermath of the “bounty” scandal in which the NFL is disciplining the New Orleans Saints for deliberately trying to injury opposing players, the NHL has come in for little scrutiny. That’s odd, especially considering the New York Times’ investigation months ago into the death of former Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard.

The Minnesota Wild were never pressed to respond to the allegations in the Times that they — and by extension — their fans, were part and parcel of a system that encouraged players to fight and, literally, have their brains beaten in.

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker has noticed.

No sane argument can be made that fighting contributes anything of value to the sport. The proof, definitive, is that both Olympic hockey and women’s hockey are played without any fighting at all, and delight far more than the N.H.L’s ever-more corrupted form of play. The great Hall of Famer Ken Dryden has called for a ban on fighting, and has also articulated a necessary rule change to protect players’ heads:

Immediately, Bettman can say, we need to treat any hit to the head as what it is: an attempt to injure. A hit to the shoulder, torso, or hip–depending–is understood as good positioning and good defense; not so a hit to the head. The head has always been thought of differently, requiring special protection with its own peculiar penalties … with the onus on the player doing the hitting, through his actions and in the eyes of the referee, to defeat that presumption.

Roger Goodell, instead of going through a grotesque pantomime of parsing and pruning his way through the Saints game film and locker-room talk, made a clear, all-out pronouncement: this was wrong; it’s ending. Bettman, if he truly loved his sport, would give up the miming masquerade of judgment that he participates in, in delegated form–Was it a hockey play? Wasn’t it? Who instigated? Should we suspend the player for four games? Or five?–and make all hits to the head, with fists or shoulders or elbows, illegal. And illegal means that if you do it once you’re out for a long time and if you do it twice you’re out for good. It might save the sport. For the Supreme Court, meanwhile–well, the blows to our heads offered there have concussed us all, perhaps for good.

A lot of Vikings fans are rightly upset that the Saints used an intent to injure in their 2010 NFC championship victory over the Vikings. One wonders how many of those fans stand and cheer at a hockey fight?

(h/t: Jim Shapiro)


A few months ago, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich walked on charges his leadership led to the execution of 24 innocent people in Haditha in Afghanistan. He could’ve gotten life in prison but he agreed to a plea bargain in exchange for a three-month sentence. Then a court let him go. Then the Marines gave him an honorable discharge.

Now, the Marines are trying to drump Sgt. Gary Stein out of the Corps with a “less than honorable” discharge. His crime: He created the Armed Forces Tea Party site on Facebook and posted unflattering images of President Obama, the Associated Press says. He’s a meteorologist.


In Pennsylvania, a teen driver struck a bicyclist this week and then tried to run away. Other drivers would have none of it.

Bonus I: It’s time to crack down on mascot abuse:

Bonus II: What’s it look like from the cockpit of a jet landing at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport? This video from a regional jet was posted last evening. For reference, it starts with the Mississippi (Pine Bed) dead ahead, goes over Highway 61, South St. Paul, Highway 52, and follows I-494.


Although the numbers vary from one industry to another, women overall still earn about 80 cents for every dollar men earn. Today’s Question: Why does the male-female wage gap persist?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Paul Douglas, Minnesota meteorologist and author, discusses tornado warnings and climate change.

Second hour: Women and the economy.

Third hour: The Friday Roundtable: Guests: John Munson, musician; Guest: Rick Kupchella, founding partner and president of; David Cazares, editor for MPR News.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Cornell University professor Suzanne Mettler, speaking about how invisible many government programs are, which apparently contributes to a lack of support those programs. Professor Mettler spoke earlier this week at the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A look at the origins of Homo sapiens. Plus, a conversation with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Second hour: Biodiversity in our cities. The species that thrive, the threats, and conservation efforts.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – 1940 census data take us to Mountain Lake in southwestern Minnesota to find some of the ancestors of the Dave Peters clan.

Pianist and piano teacher Joanne Minnetti and her son, French Horn player Bernhard Scully, have been a duo since Bernhard first took up the French Horn when he was a kid. As Bernhard became a French Horn virtuoso, his mom would support him on the recital and competition circuit as his accompanist. Bernhard is now professor of music at the Univ. of Illinois. After winning a McKnight Fellowship together, they have released their first CD. MPR’s Chris Roberts reports.

From NPR: Fresh, cheap and nutritious — that doesn’t sound like what’s on the menu in most schools. But in India, it’s a reality and it’s considered an investment. They’re feeding more than a million kids a day for just eleven cents per meal.