March 23, 2013
to be posted on

Lord Martin Rees

Dear Lord Rees:
I read with great interest your article (Martin Rees Denial of Catastrophic Risks SCIENCE vol. 339 no. 6124 March 8, 2013 page 1123) about unexpected hazards.  I have another existential threat for you.  As drama would require, it is so big and so obvious as to have escaped much notice.  Let me take for starters your word, “Societies have survived for millennia.”  True.  Indubitably.  Beyond all question and … that does not mean individual societies but rather the phenomenon of societies.  Individual societies seem to crash as they approach their 300th anniversary.  English society has not had a proper regime change since 1066.  You know what a regime change is like.  Think of the French Revolution.  Oh there have been wars and governmental changes, but never has the group that was in charge been hunted down for extermination.  You are at the leading edge of the longest unbroken power structure the world has ever seen.  Nobody else comes close. 

The cause is, I am quite sure, demographic.  I have hoarded up my evidence (with one bit yet to come I should be happy to tell you about) at my web site  If you are interested, have a read.  I’d start with the December 21, 2012 essay.  It’s my most recent summary. 

But the short answer is that for reasons having to do with evolution and the impetus toward speciation animal populations cannot survive indefinitely in unlimited numbers however favorable the environment.  Some as yet obscure mechanism will take them down in about 10 generations because after all, they are doomed to be wiped out by speciation effects in the long run. 

Most people know that the birth rate in the developed world is below replacement.  Nobody has come up with a cure.  But nobody seems much to mind.  Fewer know that this is not peculiar to the developed world.  We are all on the same trajectory, only at places separated by a few decades.

England’s escape is, I think, due to a habit of fair play.  Women have long been able to own land.  That would mean that a landowner would have an incentive to marry another landowner nearby.  That would limit the social pool sufficiently to permit long term survival.  The result was that the affluent class continued to produce youngsters in adequate numbers, gifted us with the Industrial Revolution and shuddered but never trembled at the sight of what went on in France. 

I thought you might be interested.  Let me know what you think once you have had a chance to look at the evidence rather than the bare assertion.

So much for serious.  This is just for fun.  Coincidentally, I used to take an interest in cosmology.  I have also placed on that web site an open letter to Kip Thorne.  There has been an observation of a “black hole” indicating something – they are calling it a wave – moving outward along the accretion disc.  It is common wisdom that things fall into black holes, but the universe should be a black hole and is expanding, a tiny black hole as pointed out by Hawking, should explode too.  When you look at a normal sized black hole you can see it’s no point trying to drop something in at the pole; you are looking down a galactic jet.  And now we have a suggestion of something moving outward in an accretion disc.  I kind of think that we have the sign of the time axis wrong.  The evidence of the disc is not so strong, but it is the only evidence in town.  If that “wave” is not reflected upon reaching the outer edge of the disc the evidence increases from miniscule to tiny. 

All the best,


M. Linton Herbert MD 

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