World-renowned physics professor Al Bartlett was quick to tell us “smart growth” and “dumb growth” both lead us to the same undesirable end; “smart growth” just takes you there in style. Bartlett penned Laws Relating to Sustainability, the most important of which was:

First Law: “Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.”

Bartlett worked on the Manhattan Project with Robert Oppenheimer early in his career, then went on to spend six decades teaching at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Professor Al BartlettWe present this interview in observance of the anniversary of his death, September 7, 2013. Bartlett was best known for his lecture on exponential growth, which he delivered nearly 2,000 times, around the world. The physicist campaigned tirelessly for honest acknowledgement of limits to growth – both globally and in his adopted hometown of Boulder, Colorado.

Sit down with the professor for a lesson in sustainability. This interview was recorded in Al Bartlett’s office in the Fall of 2005.

This is the second in our series of podcasts and radio programs. We plan to post a new podcast episode every Thursday. Be sure to subscribe! If you like what you hear, please support this project with a tax-deductible donation. Your comments are invited. Did this conversation inspire you to think differently about sustainability, economic growth or population growth?   Photo Credit: Jim Richardson

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  1. Thank you for that. To hear such an learned and sympathetic man give such views on the devastation that we are inflicting on our planet just reinforces my intentions to continue to speak out about the matter irrespective of the amount of criticism I will no doubt encounter.

  2. Thanks, Cheryl, for appreciating the Al Bartlett interview and his lifelong crusade for us all to appreciate the power of exponential growth. You may encounter criticism as you question the fundamental assumptions about how the world works, so many of us fail to examine closely. You will also encounter others, however, who have stopped to examine these. And they will thank you.

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