Pyramids and Ponzi Schemes -- Eric R. Pianka

Pyramids and Ponzi Schemes

© Eric R. Pianka

"Man fears time, yet time fears the pyramids" -- Arab proverb

Of the "Seven Wonders of the World," the oldest, and the only one of the original Seven Wonders still surviving, is an ancient giant pyramid in Egypt built for Pharaoh Khufu in 2560 BC. Originally 481 feet high, now with its top eroded down to 450 feet, this huge pyramid still stands after more than 45 centuries of blistering heat and desert sandstorms. For 43 of those 45 centuries, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world. A tribute to human engineering, endurance, and effort, an upright pyramid is among the most stable things humans have ever created.

In contrast, however, we also have invented and implemented our share of upside-down pyramids which are exceedingly unstable: these include human population growth, our economic systems based on continual growth and expansion, consumption of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, pollution of Earth's atmosphere and waters, as well as the ongoing destruction of natural habitats. Such inverted pyramids, based as they are on the principle of a chain letter, are inherently extremely flimsy. Indeed, all such Ponzi scheme activities are bound to fail and must ultimately lead to collapse. Economists and politicians encourage people to believe that growth can and will continue indefinitely. This is an unrealistic fantasy. We seem oblivious to the madness of our ways as we plunge headlong towards disaster.

Last updated 12 September 2014 by Eric R. Pianka