Pollution Facts: Top Ten Ways To Protect Yourself

By Chris Tolworthy

Pollution is one of the top ten dangers to life. Table: Ranking of selected risk factors: 10 leading risk factor causes of death by income group, 2004 Risk factor, deaths in millions, percentage of total: High-income countries: 1: Tobacco use: 1.5; 17.9 2: High blood pressure: 1.4; 16.8 3: Overweight and obesity: 0.7; 8.4 4: Physical inactivity: 0.6; 7.7 5: High blood glucose: 0.6; 7.0 6: High cholesterol: 0.5; 5.8 7: Low fruit and vegetable intake: 0.2; 2.5 8: Urban outdoor air pollution: 0.2; 2.5 9: Alcohol use: 0.1; 1.6 10: Occupational risks: 0.1; 1.1 Source: Word health Organisation, "GLOBAL HEALTH RISKS: Mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks" page 11 Available at http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GlobalHealthRisks_report_full.pdf

 

Pollution makes it harder to breathe. Studies correlate air pollution with damage to lungs, causing children to breathe less easily, increasing the risk of asthma in all ages, and older people increase their risk of pneumonia . So... Find out how to fight it. Keep up to date on the battle for a better world at EarthSharing.org : Sign up for the newsletter, join the community, learn how to make a difference: http://earthsharing.org/files1/about/what-can-i-do/ Sources: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223074703.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150627081210.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140930090137.htm

Pollution is poisoning your cells Studies correlate air pollution with cells being less able to cope with free radicals, causing stress due to generally poorer health . So... Exercise! Walk more! Get fit! Studies also show that physical exercise helps your body fight back, compensating for the damage due to air pollution. Sources: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324210045.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324210045.htm

 

Pollution can damage your eyes, ears, skin, stomach, etc. Studies correlate seawater pollution with illnesses in swimmers' eyes, ears, skin, stomach, etc. So... Don’t flush things down the toilet if they don’t belong there. Recycle your batteries and paint. Don’t litter. Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC2271797/pdf/epidinfect00022-0132.pdf http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/1/1.short http://www.girlshealth.gov/environmental/water/protect.html

Pollution can make you fat Studies correlate poor air quality and tobacco pollution with increased childhood obesity. Dangerous particles from cigarette smoke can remain in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished. So... Don't allow anyone to smoke indoors, and support measures to make all public places smoke free. Sources: http:// sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141112093141.htm http:// lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/ protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/

Pollution can give you diabetes, Alzheimer's, and more Studies correlate nitrates in bacon, drinking water, etc. (from modern farming practices) with harm to the pancreas, increased risk of diabetes mellitus, as well as Alzhemer's, Parkinson's disease, and more.So... Care about what you eat and learn where it comes from. If you can’t afford organic, at least remember that how animals are reared will affect you, and may come at a high price. Source: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090705215239.htm

Pollution harms the unborn child Studies correlate air pollution with increased infertility. And if you do get pregnant, pollution may weaken the unborn child, resulting in a lower birth weight, impaired brain function and more behavioural problems. So... Get involved. Review your community's air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up the air. How? Contact your local American Lung Association at http://www.lung.org or 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872). Find out what is happening in your area and how to get involved. Source: http:// sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150428171400.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150325110622.htm http:// sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150329141015.htm http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/

Pollution weakens a child’s immune system . Studies correlate air pollution with a weaker baby immune system, making children more likely to develop allergies to food, pets, etc., that are then carried into adulthood. So... The biggest cause of air pollution is burning fuel. So the simplest change is to use fuel more efficiently (which also saves money and reduces global warming). Read the Environmental Protection Agency's easy tips for saving energy at home:http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html Use public transport or car pools. Don’t burn wood or trash: these produce dangerous particulates. Switch to natural gas where possible. Sources: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150504094427.htm http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/

Pollution can contribute to a fatal stroke Studies correlate air pollution with thickening of the blood and narrowing vessels, making them more likely to clot, causing a potentially fatal stroke. So... Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area. http:// www.epa.gov/airnow/. Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high: try indoor exercises at those times. Always avoid exercising near high road traffic areas. Sources: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223162705.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150413095116.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324210045.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150304190120.htm http://nhs.uk/Conditions/Stroke/Pages/Introduction.aspx http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/

Pollution makes you tired Studies correlate air pollution with weakening of the kidneys' ability to clean the blood, making you feel more tired and nauseous . So... Remember that everything you do is connected. When you buy any product it has to be manufactured and transported, and that affects air quality. Why not have a simpler life? Re-use, recycle, spend money on simple things and good causes, not on what kills you. Sources: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141116094226.htm http://nhs.uk/conditions/Kidney-disease-chronic /Pages/Introduction.aspx

Pollution increases the risk of heart attack Studies correlate air pollution with irritation to your heart, making a heart attack more likely. So... Vote for cleaner air. Find out what candidates say about the environment: http://ontheissues.org/Environment.htm Find out which candidate most closely matches your views: http://selectsmart.com/president/ And vote! Source: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141007091653.htm

Pollution damages your brain. Studies correlate air pollution with damage to brain cells, leading to increased autism in children, unhappiness in all ages, and anxiety and decreased brain function in middle aged and older people. So... Use your brain while you can! Understand the bigger economic picture: Why are we so messed up that we would poison our own air? And how can we make a better world? Learn the economics of wealth and poverty: http://understandecon.com/igivetest/register.php Sources: http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150521121049.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213185121.htm http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118125955.htm

 

How can we reduce pollution globally? It’s important that we not only ask individuals to change their personal behavior but that we also change the incentives under which they operate. We should tax the use and abuse of natural resources.  We should make companies pay taxes in proportion to how much they pollute. This would give them not only a moral reason to pollute less but also a financial one.

 

One of the major causes of pollution is urban sprawl. Sprawl is caused when central locations are not used efficiently and people are forced to outlying areas as a result. The best way to curb sprawl is to tax the value of land so that owners of central locations will use their land efficiently, making the land available for the otherwise would-be sprawlers. To learn more about taxing the value of land, see our illustrated article Visualizing Earth Sharing.

 

Clickable text version

Pollution is one of the top ten dangers to life.

Table: Risk factor, deaths in millions, percentage of total:
1: Tobacco use: 1.5; 17.9
2: High blood pressure: 1.4; 16.8
3: Overweight and obesity: 0.7; 8.4
4: Physical inactivity: 0.6; 7.7
5: High blood glucose: 0.6; 7.0
6: High cholesterol: 0.5; 5.8
7: Low fruit and vegetable intake: 0.2; 2.5
8: Urban outdoor air pollution: 0.2; 2.5
9: Alcohol use: 0.1; 1.6
10: Occupational risks: 0.1; 1.1

Source:
Word health Organisation, “GLOBAL HEALTH RISKS: Mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks”, page 11: Table 1: Ranking of selected risk factors: 10 leading risk factor causes of death by income group, 2004, for high-income countries. Available at http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GlobalHealthRisks_report_full.pdf
Pollution can damage your eyes, ears, skin, stomach, etc.

Studies correlate seawater pollution with illnesses in swimmers’ eyes, ears, skin, stomach, etc.
So…
Don’t flush things down the toilet if they don’t belong there. Recycle your batteries and paint. Don’t litter.
Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2271797/pdf/epidinfect00022-0132.pdf
http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/1/1.short
http://www.girlshealth.gov/environmental/water/protect.html
Pollution increases the risk of heart attack

Studies correlate air pollution with irritation to your heart, making a heart attack more likely.
So…
Vote for cleaner air.
Find out what candidates say about the environment:
http://ontheissues.org/Environment.htm
Find out which candidate most closely matches your views:
http://selectsmart.com/president/
And vote!
Source:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141007091653.htm
Pollution makes you tired

Studies correlate air pollution with weakening of the kidneys’ ability to clean the blood, making you feel more tired and nauseous .
So…
Remember that everything you do is connected. When you buy any product it has to be manufactured and transported, and that affects air quality. Why not have a simpler life? Re-use, recycle, spend money on simple things and good causes, not on what kills you.
Sources:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141116094226.htm
http://nhs.uk/conditions/Kidney-disease-chronic/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Pollution can contribute to a fatal stroke

Studies correlate air pollution with thickening of the blood and narrowing vessels, making them more likely to clot, causing a potentially fatal stroke.
So…
Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area. http:// www.epa.gov/airnow/ Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high: try indoor exercises at those times.
Always avoid exercising near high road traffic areas.
Sources:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223162705.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150413095116.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324210045.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150304190120.htm
http://nhs.uk/Conditions/Stroke/Pages/Introduction.aspx
http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/
Pollution weakens a child’s immune system

Studies correlate air pollution with a weaker baby immune system, making children more likely to develop allergies to food, pets, etc., that are then carried into adulthood.
So…
The biggest cause of air pollution is burning fuel. So the simplest change is to use fuel more efficiently (which also saves money and reduces global warming). Read the Environmental Protection Agency’s easy tips for saving energy at home: http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html  Use public transport or car pools. Don’t burn wood or trash: these produce dangerous particulates. Switch to natural gas where possible.
Sources:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150504094427.htm
http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/ protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/
Pollution harms the unborn child

Studies correlate air pollution with increased infertility. And if you do get pregnant, pollution may weaken the unborn child, resulting in a lower birth weight, impaired brain function and more behavioural problems.
So…
Get involved. Review your community’s air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up the air. How? Contact your local American Lung Association at http://www.lung.org or 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872). Find out what is happening in your area and how to get involved.
Source:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150428171400.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150325110622.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150329141015.htm
http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/ protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/
Pollution can give you diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more

Studies correlate nitrates in bacon, drinking water, etc. (from modern farming practices) with harm to the pancreas, increased risk of diabetes mellitus, as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
So…
Care about what you eat and learn where it comes from. If you can’t afford organic, at least remember that how animals are reared will affect you, and may come at a high price.
Source:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090705215239.htm
Pollution can make you fat

Studies correlate poor air quality and tobacco pollution with increased childhood obesity. Dangerous particles from cigarette smoke can remain in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished.
So…
Don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors, and support measures to make all public places smoke free.
Sources:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141112093141.htm
http://lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/ protecting-your-health/protecting-yourself/


Pollution is poisoning your cells

Studies correlate air pollution with cells being less able to cope with free radicals, causing stress due to generally poorer health .
So…
Exercise! Walk more! Get fit! Studies also show that physical exercise helps your body fight back, compensating for the damage due to air pollution.
Sources:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324210045.htm
Pollution makes it harder to breathe

Studies correlate air pollution with damage to lungs, causing children to breathe less easily, increasing the risk of asthma in all ages, and older people increase their risk of pneumonia .
So…
Find out how to fight it. Keep up to date on the battle for a better world at EarthSharing.org: Sign up for the newsletter, join the community, learn how to make a difference: http://earthsharing.org/files1/about/what-can-i-do/
Sources:
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223074703.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150627081210.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140930090137.htm
Pollution damages your brain

Studies correlate air pollution with damage to brain cells, leading to increased autism in children, unhappiness in all ages, and anxiety and decreased brain function in middle aged and older people.
So…
Use your brain while you can! Understand the bigger economic picture: Why are we so messed up that we would poison our own air? And how can we make a better world? Learn the economics of wealth and poverty:
http://understandecon.com/igivetest/register.php

Sources:

http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150521121049.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213185121.htm
http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118125955.htm
There is a simple way to stop all pollution, once and for all:

LVT (Land Value Taxation).

Under LVT, work is tax free, so there is more work, more jobs, more money.
Instead of paying tax on work, people pay for the natural resources they use (such as land).

It follows that if we poison natural resources then we pay for that as well.
If we have to pay the full cost of pollution, we soon stop polluting!

Simple.

For the economic details, see “Applications of Land Value Taxation to Problems of Environmental Protection” by Nicolaus Tideman: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.202.5288 

 

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The History Of The World: Land Grabs

This is Audrey. Audrey is a high achiever, likes nice things, and is lots of fun to be with. Her goal is to have a nicer house. She likes to share things, but her house will be her own.

Audrey has no interest in history or politics which is ironic because she causes them. Why? Because the desire for your own place is the driving force behind human history.

This is Audrey’s current house. Her parents grabbed it when it was cheap. Since then, house prices have skyrocketed, so it’s a nice little nest egg.

The woman in the picture cleaning Audrey’s steps is Jaanai. Jaanai attended the same college as Audrey and got the same grades. but Audrey got a good job, and Jaanai didn’t:  she wanted to be an architect, not a cleaner. So what went wrong?

This is Audrey and Jaanei’s college. Audrey spent her evenings networking, and developing a wide range of interests. After graduating she landed an unpaid internship at a prestigious company. Now she is climbing the career ladder.

Unlike Audrey, Jaanai spent her evenings working as a waitress. She thought she could pay her way through college. But an architectural degree is very long, and she miscalculated. She had to drop out and take another job.

The problem? Jaanei had to find $900 in rent every month. Whereas Audrey is free.

Jaanei would have been a really good architect. She could have built Audrey her dream home. But Audrey will never see that home, because Jaanei has to pay too much rent.

Audrey and Jaanei’s story is repeated a billion times around the world. Some people are free to reach their potential and some people are not.

Let’s look at how it all began.

How it all began

The story of mankind is the story of a hundred billion Audreys: we all want our own home, where we don’t pay rent to anybody.

Originally this was not a problem. There was plenty of land. If somebody said “this is my land” people could just say “OK” and move somewhere else. So mankind spread across the planet  (See the appendix for details.)

File:Human migration out of Africa.png

You could walk almost anywhere. There were no borders, and the ice age was ending, so there were convenient land bridges/ As the ice receded more land became available.

But some land was much better than others. Soon Audrey’s ancestors were fighting over the best bits, like the warm fertile coasts and rivers of the middle east. Often they were willing to share the land, but only if Jaanai paid them rent. Because Audrey got there first.

But once land was scarce, Jaanai’s ancestors could not move on. They had to pay Audrey’s ancestors rent. This changed everything. Audrey’s ancestors were now rich, and Jaanei’s ancestors were now poor.

Audrey’s ancestors no longer had to be “better” to own the land: they could pay other people to do the fighting and thinking. All they had to focus on was keeping the rent coming in.

Some people said “let’s share the land” but the kings explained that this was impossible: “you need a king to protect you!” In reality the opposite is true: democracies tend to be stronger than monarchies, and more equal societies tend to be stronger as well. But the king usually has plenty of supporters, either because they believe his claims or because they want to be rich like him.

Since kings own the land that people need, people have to do what they say. So even those who disagree with the king become his unpaid servants.

Unpaid servants can never reach their potential. They cannot make their own decisions and they cannot invest in their own future.Just as bad as the lack of investment is the lack of critical thinking. Kings must discourage people from questioning their authority. A third weakness, besides the lack of investment and the subjugation, is war. The quickest way for a king to increase his power and income is to have a war: grab more land and collect more rent (called taxes). But wars are expensive and destructive.

The combination of no investment and periodic wars meant most nations were dirt poor and stayed that way for thousands of years. Some nations however won the wars, and gained more land. This made it easier to win the next  war. Gradually kingdoms became empires, and empires grew bigger.

But the unwillingness to share land made the empires weak. Pliny the Elder (the Great Roman statesman) identified the problem:

“latifundia perdidere italiam”

(“the great estates destroyed Italy”)

Every rich person wanted to grab land; soon the land was covered by a few gigantic estates. These estates were so big that they became self sufficient. They no longer cared what happened in the city of Rome. So, Rome became weaker and weaker, and eventually fell. Other kings grabbed the land.

The common people didn’t like this endless war and poverty. A lot of them preferred the teachings of “holy men” who said we should share. But the words of “holy men” could be used selectively, allowing rulers to say “we must be the chosen people” and grab even more land.

Eventually “new” lands were discovered (such as America), leading to more land grabs.

Gold (and other loot) from America allowed Europe to finance even more land grabs. Soon Europe had the biggest empires of all.

Britain grabbed the most land, because as an island it had the best navy. France grabbed the second largest amount because it had Napoleon.

Africa was a popular place to grab land, as it was nearby. The Europeans just walked in, measured it up, and took almost everything.

The Europeans were still fighting each other, of course. In this picture the German leader tries to grab all of Europe in the First World War .

Meanwhile something amazing was happening in America.

Earlier we saw how concentrating land is economically inefficient, as the poor people cannot reach their potential. The people who moved to America learned from this: they decided to have no kings, but to share the land a little more. So America quickly changed from just another colony to being the most powerful nation on Earth.

But the same old forces still applied. Americans who grew rich grabbed the land. America produced a different kind of king: the global corporation. Big farms bought smaller farms. Railroads bought land for the rails plus a lot of land on each side. Businesses that did not need land found ways to influence the government (the effective landowners) and get favorable rules. This picture shows Standard OIl, a corporation that grabbed most of the oil bearing land and made everybody else pay.

And so history continues as it has always done, as one big land grab. That is the history of the world in a nutshell. Like children, we often do not want to share. Children fight over sweets, but adults fight over land. Because whoever grabs the land wins.

So when Audrey wants to own her house without paying rent, and Jaanai has to pay too much rent, they are acting out the history of the world, and ensuring that it continues as usual.

The problem with grabbing too much land

1. Even the rich eventually lose.

People with the most land always want more. So the land, especially the most valuable land, goes to fewer and fewer people.

The game of Monopoly (originally called The Landlord’s Game) was invented to show why this is a bad thing. If you don’t share the value of land then one by one everybody goes bankrupt.

It’s fun for the winner, but only for a short time. Because once everybody else is bankrupt there is nobody left to give you money, and it’s game over. Society ceases to function.

2. Even when they win, they lose.

Being a king has its downsides. You can never sleep easily. Somebody somewhere is always out to kill you: they all want your job.

Worse, by keeping other people poor you stop scientific progress. So when a really big problem appears, you can’t solve it. If the next kingdom is more efficient, you lose. And if you get sick you are more likely to die.

Audrey will never get the house of her dreams because Jaanai could never become the architect she was destined to be.

All those poor people who can’t pay their rent could have been doctors and scientists, architects and great thinkers. They could have solved our biggest problems. However, they never reached their potential, and that hurts everyone -even the rich.

The Rise of Earth Sharing

After thousands of years of war and poverty, things did began to improve a little. Science began to advance. Hunger began to go down. Why? Because a few more people gained the freedom to reach their potential.

Gradually more people gained some land. They then created laws to reduce poverty. This gave more people the freedom to reach their potential. More people could get an education and then invest in their futures. They created businesses, machines and ideas. Each advance led to another advance, so progress accelerated.

How people began to break free

How did more people gain land when the king wanted to be all-powerful? Largely due to war. Not sharing leads to war, and war shakes up the economy. After each war a few more people gain land: this is why:

Wars drive down incomes, so landowners have to charge less in rent. But after a war the government has to rebuild, so more people have jobs. There is a brief period when land is cheap but people have more jobs . Remember Audrey’s parents? They bought their house soon after World War II, before prices went up and jobs went down again.

So many people gained a share of land after World War II that unprecedented numbers of people were free to try new ideas. Science and technology exploded, as did funding for new science. People could see a better world.

Those who control the world’s resources are still very powerful. There will be setbacks. But Earth sharing is happening, slowly. And every tiny step makes the world a better place.

Conclusion

Most people are kept back from reaching their potential because they don’t have their share of the planet. They cannot take chances and invest in their future because they must spend all their spare money on rent just to live.

We are losing generations of scientists and artists and thinkers because they are not free to develop. This hurts everybody, including the rich.

Life can be many times better for everyone, wonderfully better, if we just let everybody reach their potential.

Appendix: early land monopoly

On territoriality (i.e. grabbing land as your own):

“As with other vertebrates, the territoriality of protohominids and early hominids had a significant influence on their behaviour. In the case of primates quite generally, the relevant territory is that of the band as a whole, i.e. the group’s territory. […] the defence of the territory is taken on by all the fit members (males) in the group. However, while both protohominids and their arboreal forebears were group-territorial, the nature of their territories differed. When the ancestors of humans became hunters, their group territories went from being relatively small and vegetation-dense to being large and open, encompassing the whole of the area in which they migrated throughout the year.”
(“Too Smart for Our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Humankind” By Craig Dilworth, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p.172)

On fights over who controlled the land:

“Attempts to exclude others and utilize a territorial system provide advantages if there is competition for available resources. Among early hominids this was probably the case. Starting out as omnivores, they probably competed with members of the same species, and with other species, for the same food sources. Thus, if members of one group were able to exclude others using some type of territorial strategy, they were preserving more resources for themselves and thus enhancing their fitness.”
(“Human territorial functioning: An empirical, evolutionary perspective on individual and small group territorial cognitions, behaviors, and consequences” by Ralph B. Taylor, Cambridge University Press, 1988, p.37)

On how people left when other land became available:

“[There is no evidence that early humans migrated due to learning new skills.] However, as a result of the warmer climate conditions, the habitats to which East African australiopithecines became adapted may have shifted ever further away from the equator. Although paleobotanical evidence for vegetation conditions is largely absent in the Pliocene, it can be assumed that the southern part of the East African Rift Valley might have served as a prime corridor linking eastern and southern Africa.”
(From the chapter “Origins of human territorial functioning” in “The Global Prehistory of Human Migration” by Immanuel Ness and Peter Bellwood,  Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, p.11)

On how increasing wealth led to increasing investment in keeping others out:

“Given the emergence of elite groups marked by warlike status kits, it would be very surprising if competition and wealth accumulation did not extend to land and to the crops and stock it supported: the substantial palisades around the major settlements presumably served to keep the stock inside and the raiding party outside.”
(“Prehistoric Farming in Europe” by Graeme Barker, Cambridge University Press, 1985,  p.150)

Notes and images

The names are fictional, but the situation is a simplified composite of a common scenario: one person is able to get a better education due to parents not having to pay a mortgage or rent. The name “Audrey” means “noble strength.” The name “Jaanai” means  “answering afflicted, made poor”.http://www.meaning-of-names.com/israeli-names/jaanai.asp

The house steps image is from the out of copyright magazine Punch, October 3rd 1917, via Project Gutenberg.

The school image is the author’s own work, based on the public domain image “Arsenal Technical High School” from the Historic American Buildings Survey, via Wikimedia.

The migrations map is “Human migration out of Africa” by “Ephant”, Creative Commons 3.0 (sharealike), via Wikimedia.

The fertile crescent sketch map is from the out of copyright book “Ancient Man”, by Hendrik Van Loon, via Project Gutenberg.

Other sketch maps and similar graphics: from the out of copyright book “The Story of Mankind”, by Hendrik Van Loon, via Project Gutenberg.

The painting of Columbus is from “The return of Christopher Columbus; his audience before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.” by Eugene Delacroix (who died in 1863), via Wikimedia.

The slaves painting is from “Israel in Egypt” by Edward Poynter (1867), via Wikimedia.

The crusaders image is from the out of copyright book “The Story of the Crusades” by E. M. Wilmot-Buxton, via Project Gutenberg.

The Cecil Rhodes image is: “The Rhodes Colossus” from the out of copyright magazine Punch, December 10th 1892, via Wikimedia.

The assassination image is from the out of copyright book “Beacon Lights of History, Volume X, by John Lord” via Project Gutenberg.

The dying aristocrat image is from the out of copyright book “History of France” by Guizot, Volume I,  via Project Gutenberg.

The Pliny the Elder image is public domain, via the National Institutes of Health, via Wikimedia.

The Kaiser eating the world is “Guerre 14-18-Humour-L’ingordo, trop dur-1915”: an out of copyright propaganda image from 1915, via Wikimedia.

The Standard Oil Octopus is from the out of copyright magazine “Puck”, v. 56, no. 1436 (7th Sept 1904) via Wikimedia.

The Landlord’s Game is an out of copyright image (from 1906) via landlordsgame.info.

The image of carving up the world is from the out of copyright image “plum pudding” by James Gilray, via Wikimedia.

The other charts’ copyright details are printed on the charts.

All other art is by the author, Chris Tolworthy.

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Dude, where’s my palace?

If you put people first, does it make any money? Ask Pythais, the world’s greatest investor.

 

oedipus-leaves.jpg

 

Pythais invested her time and effort not in making money, but in raising her son, Pythagoras. Pythagoras became one of the greatest thinkers ever.

 

Kapitolinischer_Pythagoras_adjusted.jpg

 

Pythagoras basically invented math. Aristotle called his followers

“the first to take up mathematics.”

(Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1-5)

True, before Pythagoras there were accountants and architects who used math, but Pythagoras took it much further: he said that math could explain everything: you don’t need tradition or ignorance, you can measure it all. All science is based on measurement.

 

It took thousands of years for the world to adopt this approach, but when it did, knowledge increased exponentially, and so did wealth.

 

 

So Pythais’ investment of her time and assets in her son was probably the greatest investment ever. Pythais never saw a penny of the results, but we are all seeing it now.

 

 Investment in modern times

 

Investing in people and ideas can create an explosion of wealth. Take Alan Kay for example.

Alan was inspired by ARPA, a body devoted to pure research, not to making money. When he worked for his next company he persuaded them to put ideas before short term profits:

 

“[We] had a written agreement with Xerox that they would not try to tell us what to do for the first five years. That turned out to be absolutely critical. But because they had that, you know, we basically went after the ARPA dream.”

 

The result? Alan and his friends created the personal computer, and much more. That invention alone added 30 trillion dollars to the world (so far).

 

“25 of us at Xerox PARC – create something that has brought almost 30 trillion dollars of new wealth to the world from the efforts of 25 people. […] There are many, many lessons to be learnt about what real innovation is actually all about and how to make it happen.” – Alan Kay

 

The secret to investment

The secret to investment is to create things that create more things. That allows amazing compound growth. For example, if you grow by just 7.5 percent per year then you create ten times the original wealth in just over 30 years.

 

 

The next thirty years gives ten times that result, and so on.

That may be extreme, (though China has averaged more than that for decades) but even a small steady growth has amazing results.

How do you create things that create more things? You invest in people and ideas. Not just with your money, but with your time and attention, like Pythais and Alan Kay.

Then why aren’t we rich?

Why don’t we do it right? Because we get dazzled by short term profit. We forget the power of long term steady growth. Or we never understood it in the first place.

 

This essay is about how to create wealth. Other essays are about how we destroy wealth: by creating barriers, grabbing land, unfair laws, etc.

Quiz: how rich should you be?

Let’s talk numbers. If our ancestors invested in people and ideas, instead of land and wars, how rich would you be now?

So, start with 400 dollars per year (our money) in 1400 BC, add 2 percent growth per year due to honest trading and new discoveries. What should you be earning today?

  • $40,000 dollars a year?
  • $500,000 dollars a year?
  • $100,000,000 dollars a year?
  • More?

Quiz answer

So here is the answer: the amount you should be earning is…

Wait for it…

19 billion…

No, not 19 billion dollars.

You should be earning 19 billion times the wealth currently on the entire planet.

 

“What, every year?” No. Every second. Don’t take anyone’s word for it: calculate it yourself.

But you are not earning that, are you? Because throughout history, people have invested for the short term. They did not invest in people. They thought they would make more money.


(source)

If you want fabulous wealth for everyone, put people before short term profit. Vote to share ideas, to share land and other natural resources, to help the poor. Invest in education and pure research. And if someone says “we’ll lose money” ask if they have heard of compound growth.

Because if we don’t think of the long term, then we are not thinking at all.

 

Footnotes and references

All links retrieved 5th March 2015, 10-11 am GMT
The year 1400 BC
Phoenicia was a set of cities around the coasts of the Mediterranean. It was arguably the first “modern” nation: that is, they lived by trading more than farming. So that’s a good starting point for economic growth. They gave the Greeks their alphabet around 1700 BC, settled Cyprus around 1500 BC, and made a treaty with Egypt around 1300 BC. Later they were the first people to sail all the way round Africa, and the single Phoenician city of Carthage as the biggest threat to ancient Rome (hence Hannibal and his elephants). That’s why we don’t have Phoenicians any more: just Google the phrase “Carthage Must Be Destroyed!”

 

The year 1400 is also chosen because, according to the Bible, it is the date when Moses produced his land laws. These are extremely interesting from an economic viewpoint (he taxed land, not work), but that’s another story. Incidentally, the wealthiest cities in Israel were Tyre and Sidon – Phoenician cities.

 

The picture of Pythais
As a forgotten wealth creator there are no paintings of Pythais. But there is a famous play by Euripedes called “The Phoenician Women”, about how the good people are ignored and forgotten while the bad people fight to steal the land. The painting (“Farewell of Oedipus to the Corpses of His Wife and Sons” by Édouard Toudouze) illustrates that play. It shows Antigone, wife of Oedipus, mourning the death of his brother, who died fighting to be king over the land, and of their mother, who then died of a broken heart.

 

Pythais the mathematician?

Pythais was a Phoenician, the wife of a trader. We don’t know of anyone else at home at the time, so until further information appears we must assume that she handled his accounts: that she understood maths. Given the importance of early childhood development, she must have played a big part in Pythagoras’ mathematical genius.

 

Pythagoras the greatest thinker

Pythagoras was the first man to call himself a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. According to Aristotle (in Metaphysics 1:5) his followers taught that “the principles of mathematics were the principles of all things”. This insight was arguably more advanced (that is, more precise and more useful) than any of the later philosophers, and was not confirmed until the theoretical physics and high energy energy experiments of the twentieth century.

 

Pythagoras invented math

According to Aristotle (in Metaphysics 1:5) his followers were the first people to take up mathematics. True, the Egyptians knew some maths before that, e.g. for building pyramids that don’t fall down, but the Pythagorians were the first to “advance the subject” and be “saturated with it”. They were the first to see maths as a tool to apply to everything.

 

Math and global wealth
For thousands of years, people thought you become rich by amassing property: by taxing, stealing land, having a monopoly, etc. But that is only true in the short term. In the renaissance and enlightenment people began to demand that the numbers should add up: they wanted numerical proof. Adam Smith did the sums, and discovered that real wealth comes from trade, from specialisation, from taxing ground rents instead of income, and so on. He invented economics: he applied maths to nations. Hundred of years later our governments still do mathematically stupid things (like taxing work instead of land) but gradually we are learning to add up, and so our wealth is increasing.

 

Pythagoras and earth sharing

Though Pythagoras is known for his mathematics, his main concern was in creating an ideal society, in which everything was shared. This was not simple communism as such, because the movement expanded until it ran entire cities, so it was a sophisticated economic structure. But it ended when Cylon, a man listed as a Pythagorean city administrator, set fire to some or all of the Pythagorean headquarters, sending the whole movement into disarray. Presumably he had some kind of conflict with the leaders over how he should administer the land. So now you know why “Cylons” are the bad guys in Battlestar Galactica.

Cylon.jpg

Image: “deviantartmaster07”, licensed for noncommercial sharing. For the history of Pythagorians, see “A History of Pythagoreanism” by Carl A. Huffman, Cambridge University Press 2014.

 

Pythagoras statue photo
Taken by “Galilea” and uploaded to Wikipedia on a “sharealike” licence.

 

Alan Kay

Photo by Marcin Wichary, vial Wikipedia, under a sharealike licence. Alan Kay quote from an interview with Mike Richards for the Open University TU100 computing course, block 2 part 2, .

 

Pythais was probably your ancestor
Statistically you are probably descended from the early Phoenicians. This is why:

 

You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on, Every generation doubles. If no relatives ever marry then every 20 years back (because your ancestors married young) your ancestors double: in 100 years you have 2x2x2x2x2 = 32 ancestors. Another 100 years is 32×32 = 1024 ancestors. Another 200 years: over a million ancestors. Another 200 years, to AD 1400, over a billion ancestors, more than the population of the world back then. So you would be descended from everyone.

 

Of course in reality people tend to marry people nearby, so after a hundred years there is a lot of overlap. But people travel: it might take just 200 years for everyone to be descended from everyone in the area, then an incomer might marry and have children. Two hundred years all of your group probably includes her as an ancestor, so they also have all of her ancestors. In this way, the further we go back the more likely it is that we share all the ancestors from farther afield.

 

And the Phoenicians travelled a lot. They were the first mainly seafaring nation: they met and intermarried all over the ancient Mediterranean. So if you have European or north African ancestors you probably also have Phoenician ancestors, and if you go back a couple of hundred years more then you are probably descended from every Phoenician at the time (or at least, those that had children).

 

So while we cannot prove that you are descended from Pythais, if you have any European or north African ancestors there is a good chance that you are.

 

(Note: some people say the Pythagoreans were celibate, which would have limited Pythais’ descendants. This is not true, They just tried not to be sex obsessed. But they encouraged people to have children, especially to procreate in the winter months, when there was less work to do, and children could then be born in the late summer when there is plenty of food. see “A History of Pythagoreanism” by Carl A. Huffman, Cambridge University Press 2014.)

 

Phoenician picture
Adapted from “Phoenician traders on the coast of Britain” by Lord Leighton (now out of copyright)

 

Money picture
Adapted from “Money” by “Patyvo” from the stock.xchng photo site

 

Compound growth chart

Adapted from the chart by “MartienTheRock” at Wikimedia. Creative Commons 2.0 sharealike.

 

Global assets

All the financial assets of planet Earth are current valued at $156 trillion.

http://www.businessinsider.com/156-trillion-global-financial-assets-2014-3?IR=T

 

Global GDP
Adapted from “Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History Paperback” by Angus Maddison, via the version used by Michael W. Kruse, then updated via the CIA World Fact Book

 

Where the numbers come from

Although Pythais lived around 600 BC, Phoenician trade really took off around 1400 BC. We’ll start with effectively nothing: minimum subsistence level (below which you starve to death) is around 400 dollars per year (today’s money, the famous “dollar a day” a few years ago). An easy to achieve growth rate is 2 percent: many modern nations exceed that, despite often investing in the wrong things. We are actually doing a lot of things better than our ancestors did. Here I simply suggest that our ancestors do a few things we do not (trade, education, opportunities for entrepreneurs, etc.)

 

Planet Earth pic

Adapted by the author from public domain NASA imagery

 

Facepalm pic

Photo by Alex E. Proimos at Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 sharealike-

 

How to calculate compound growth:

To calculate 400 dollars increased by 2 percent, 3415 times:

In Microsoft Windows, open the calculator

(Start -> programs -> Accessories -> Calculator)

Switch to scientific mode

(view -> scientific).

Click 1.02  >  Xy  > 3415  > * > 400

Result: $93,679,930,156,983,494,976,008,056,331,645 per year

To divide by the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds in a year:

( /365 /24 /60 /60 )

$2,970,571,098,331,541,570,776,511 per second

then divide by total of all global assets (156 trillion)

19,042,122,425

That’s 19 billion times the whole world, every second!

 

Original art by the author, Chris Tolworthy. Older source material from out of copyright books, via Project Gutenberg.

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