Larry A. Nielsen

Welcome

Thank you for visiting my website.  After a long career as a university administrator, I am once again a full-time faculty member.  The prospect of devoting myself again to teaching and scholarship is exciting, as well as daunting.  Getting current again with the subject matter is scary enough, but the technology is even more frightening.  With your indulgence, I'll try.

Fortunately, the fundamental premises of natural resource management have not changed.  People need resources, and nature provides them.  I am an unrepentent optimist, and I believe that every day we make our world a little better.  On the day I wrote this message, I was engaged in an email discussion with a colleague who, after reviewing some world demographic trends, announced that Malthus was once again affirmed.  I disagreed.  Malthus is, of course, always right in theory; when one trend line changes arithmetically (that is, resources) and another changes geometrically (that is, human population) , they eventually will cross.  But this analysis neglects that the slopes of the curves can change.  Indeed, they have changed continually in human history, and they continue to change today.  The dire conditions that futurists predicted in the 1960s have not come true; not even close.  A pessimist would say that we're just putting off the inevitable and we're making the final outcome worse by doing so.  But I see progress all around us.  Sustainability is now mainstream.  Food supply and quality continue to improve.  Human population growth rates continue to decline.  The world is a wonderful, beautiful place--and getting moreso.

I welcome you to think positively and constructively about the world in which we live.  It is the only one we have, with all its problems and possiblities.  We need to make the best of it.

Please go to the "Teaching" page to see details of a special course I am leading during the Fall 2011 semester about the role of dams in our civilization.