Summary: HHOOWW MMAANNYY PPEEOOPPLLEE AARREE IINN YYOOUURR FFUUTTUURREE??
ELEMENTARY MODELS OF POPULATION GROWTH
George L. Ashline, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Joanna A. Ellis-Monaghan, Instructor of Mathematics
Saint Michael's College
The year is 2022 AD. Forty million people crowd New York City. An air-locked
plastic bubble preserves the small handful of sickly trees remaining. Bodies pack
stairwells at night. Only the very wealthy can afford fresh vegetables, strawberry jam, or
even hot running water. Teeming masses of desperate people mill around derelict cars on
filthy streets, wearing surgical masks against the thick yellow smog. They fight for
crumbs of government-supplied protein crackers, and bulldozers control daily food riots,
scooping crying, starving people into bloody piles. Sanitation trucks soon arrive for
routine collection of the dead.
Is this your future? How would you know whether or not it is? Should you
believe people who say it is your future?
The scenario above depicts the future portrayed in the 1973 dystopian science
fiction classic Soylent Green [F]. But why would anyone think this is a realistic model of
the future? Who would predict such population growth and on what basis?