December 11, 2014

Randy Malamud
Georgia State College

Dear Professor:
I see your essay on global warming, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”  I am delighted.  The first time I read that line it was many years ago, and the changes then predicted seem now to be trifling.  My response was, “The world as I knew it ended seven years ago.”  Since then there have not been ten years without what I regard as disorienting change.  But you mean by “as we know it,” to say, “With people.”  Ah, now we are getting somewhere.

Isaac Newton pointed out sotto voce that no dynasty lasts 10 generations.  His finding was confirmed by a study done of Iceland genealogies that, again the point made quietly, there were plenty of people who had no consanguinity among their ancestors for nine generations but no, zilch, none, could make the same claim for ten generations.  A line dies out after at most nine generations of outbreeding.  Newton makes a generation to be 32 years (the time to first male son he takes to be 30 years.)  So nine times 32 is 288 years for any society to die out.  That means going from regime change to regime change. 

You know regime changes.  Think the French Terror.  The aristocrats tried to make an orderly handover – fat chance – and the Nazi’s tried to make an orderly handover – we are still hunting them down and killing them – and when the Vichy government in France fell the Parisians dilled them and thew them into the Marne where the bodies rafted up and blocked the bridges so American troops were not allowed into Paris, the Nazi takeover was conspicuously bloody as was the Communist … we all know people descended from American Whigs; ever met an American Tory descendant?  I have, but not in this country.

So 1776, nay let’s say 1780 was the last regime change, the beginning of the American Era.  That means it ends in 2068.  That should be about the time the last person able to support the regime, be he cop or academic, turns 30 – play with the number as you will – so he will be born in 2038 of a woman then 40 born in 1998 and about 16 now.  In a few years we should see how this plays out.  Of course the American Era is global, so this time the regime change will be the disorderly handover of power to those now utterly disenfranchised, who will have the task of trying to feed ten billion with a technology able to feed about two billion under the best of circumstances.

I suspect 2020 will be the time when we are able to see clearly.  Funny how global warming, demographics and the vanishing icecap (now predicted to go in fifteen years; the climate will be, shall we say, different) all seem ready to pounce on us at once. 

Just thought you might need some cheering up.

Here’s a link:


M. Linton Herbert MD

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