Lily Pond Parable


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Lily Pond Parable

The "Lily Pond Parable" (although not really a parable) is an excellent example providing insight into population growth.

  1. If a pond lily doubles everyday and it takes 30 days to completely cover a pond, on what day will the pond be 1/4 covered?

  2. 1/2 covered?

  3. Does the size of the pond make a difference?

  4. What kind of environmental, social, and economic developments can be expected as the 30th day approaches?

  5. What will begin to happen at one minute past the 30th day?

  6. At what point (what day) would preventative action become necessary to prevent unpleasant events?

  7. How would the situation change if the pond lily doubling time were reduced from 30 days to 15 days because additional lillies were transplanted from other ponds?

  8. If this pond were your city, state or country, and the lilys people, considering all other life, at what day would you and your family like to live and have the highest quality of life?

  9. What corresponding day are we at in the world? The United States?


Question: Does the US have an overpopulation problem, or is overpopulation a concern of other countries?
Answer: In many respects the degree of overpopulation is a matter of perspective:

  • Some Americans can "park" on a crowded freeway and not understand population is a determining factor

  • Some Americans can be denied a permit to enter a National Park and not understand population is a factor

  • Some Americans say to remedy our problems we should... (select your favorite):

    • increase gas mileage
    • reduce income inequality
    • build more highways and mass transit
    • build more high rise apartments
    • catch and release fish
    • reduce water use
    • reduce pollution, etc.

  • Some people see a sinister agenda where none is intended nor evident

  • It is difficult for some Americans to understand the relationships between U.S. environmental, social, and economic problems and population growth or overpopulation.

A good first definition of overpopulation is one that exemplifies how you are personally impacted. For example, to someone who enjoys outdoor activities a possible definition could be when Americans are turned away from a National Park because it is full. That's simple enough, but think about it.

-- Dell Erickson       


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