20 June 2012

Wednesday Funny: A World Without Innovation

Via Bill Easterly NYU/DRI


  1. A reader writes in with this info:

    "I believe this comic appeared in the May 22, 2006 edition of the New Yorker"


  2. For some radical environmentalists, I'm not sure if they would consider a human lifespan of only 30 years to be a feature or a bug.

  3. Human evolution has resulted in more of us distinguishing between cause and effect.

  4. One of the reasons that nobody lived past thirty was that 'pure' water existed almost nowhere earth. Isn't it true that waterborne diseases have killed more of humanity than anything else?

    'Fresh river water' was invariably seasoned with essence of rotting bovine from somewhere upstream. A nice mouthful from a Foetid pond anyone?

    Perhaps more than anything, clean drinking water is the quintessential human product.

    But of course, other than that, pestilential life would have been Eden-like!

  5. Funny. Of course, an average lifespan of 30 doesn't mean that nobody lives longer than that. It means that a lot of people are dying in infancy.

  6. Bill - I don't think average lifespan was 30. With girls able to reproduce at 13, 9 months of gestation and a grandma on hand to help, maximum lifespan must've reached 28 by the time humans became human.

    Anteros - their water was free from artificial chemicals therefore PURE as far as a greenie is concerned.

  7. I should have said 'life expectancy'. Some interesting numbers here:

    Upper Paleolithic:
    Life expectancy at birth: 33 years.
    Life expectancy at age 15: 54 years (an additional 39 years).

    Medieval Britain:
    Life expectancy at birth: 30 years.
    Life expectancy at age 15: 64 years (an additional 43 years).

  8. The rapid rise in life expectancies is partly due to advances in medicine. But mostly it is due to a rise in GDP per capita. That in turn is due to a rise in energy consumption per capita, by replacing human energy with other forms of energy. I live in Manchester, where the stages of this development are evident. First the energy was from the the ox and the horse, with wood the main fuel source. Then water power was added, followed by coal. This in turn was replaced by oil and gas. The fuel source has become more distant - coal heating has been replaced by electricity coal-fired power stations.
    In some respects we seem to be regressing backwards will windmills and local energy from solar panels.

  9. Interesting comments, several based on misunderstanding statistics.

    Bill #7: You point out the same fallacy that exists for my 98-year-old father-in-law. His chances of living to be 100 are far greater than mine (at 63). But his actual chance of dying in the next two years is orders of magnitudes greater than mine. The few that survived past puberty could expect to live longer -- I have doubts about our ability to pinpoint this at 54 years from a few fossils.

    Anteros #4: In the times of the cartoon, there was no need to drink anything but clean pure water. There were not human settlements large enough yet to foul their own water supplies. Medieval Britain, in cities, the case was different, but country dwellers also had no worries about polluted water.

    Roger Jr: You ought to buy the rights and make a T-shirt!