Numerical gibberish from a Professor of Meteorology at Florida State

There is a strange article in the Tallahassee Democrat by a Peter Ray, a Professor of Meteorology at Florida State University. This is not exactly Nature and the TD’s fact checking processes are not to be compared to a proper peer review, yet they allowed this nonsense to be published:

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Peter Ray – image Tallahassee Democrat photo Craig Litten

The population doubles every 40 years. In 100 years there will be 100 times as many people living on the earth. All will suffer the lack of food and water. Many will die and wars will be over resources.

Never mind that the UN projections show a world population of 7 billion today reaching a peak of about 10-11 billion by 2100. Never mind that global fertility is declining fast. Never mind that a doubling every 40 years would need some 265 years to reach a factor of 100. Never mind that in 100 years the growth would be by a factor of 6.6. Peter Ray seems to be calculating by his strange mathematics a population of 700 billion in 100 years (though quite how he calculates this is a mystery). The rest of the article is conventional gloom and doom gibberish but masochists can find it here.

Prof. Peter S Ray, Florida State University

However I thought it odd that somebody so numerically illiterate – in a public article – could be a Professor of Meteorology, which led me to the Florida State University page of a Professor Peter S Ray which in turn led me to his homepage and then on to his cv. He is the only Peter Ray listed. The pictures – if all of the same person – seem a little anachronistic. Presumably the Tallahassee Democrat picture was chosen as being the most flattering but I would guess it is from 20 years ago. Personally I would prefer the later picture.

The “back to the future” theme appears also in his cv where his PhD (Meteorology) is from 1973 but his MS (Meteorology) is from 2013. It is not inconceivable that a Masters degree could follow a PhD, but in the same field?

I get worried when Professors start spouting about matters outside their own narrow fields. They are imbued with an authority they do not have and – more often than not – are misguided and misinformed. We could call it the Newton’s Alchemy Syndrome (NAS). Professor Peter Ray should probably avoid demographics.

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