The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth's Future
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In 1980, the iconoclastic economist Julian Simon challenged celebrity biologist Paul Ehrlich to a bet. This book shows how the fight between Ehrlich and Simon - between environmental fears and free-market confidence - helped create the gulf separating environmentalists and their critics today.
Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. Orr, David W. “The Labors of Sisyphus.” Conservation Biology 16, no. 4 (2002): 857–860. Osborn, Fairfield. Our Crowded Planet: Essays on the Pressures of Population. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962. ———. Our Plundered Planet. Boston: Little, Brown, 1948. Paddock, William, and Paul Paddock. Famine, 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Survive? Boston: Little, Brown, 1967. Passell, Peter,
83, 84–93, 97, 127–28, 132–33; of 1990s, 189–97; Nixon and, 42–52; polarization, 8, 189–97, 215–16, 224–25; Reagan and, 137–50, 163–64, 179; Simon and, 152–72; Zero Population Growth and, 36–41, 119–21. See also presidential elections; specific politicians and parties pollution, 11, 27, 33, 35–36, 41–42, 43–44, 46, 49, 55–56, 91, 101, 102, 134, 138, 142, 143–44, 168–69, 172, 190, 192, 200, 218, 223; industrial, 44–45, 146, 192, 212, 223; Limits of Growth model and debate, 80–83, 83, 84–93, 97,
On “The Farm,” Gaskin’s followers, like many other commune dwellers, rejected materialism and individualism to embark on a new way of living more appropriate to an age of limits.9 Meanwhile, in 1970s Washington, lawyers and policy-makers did not uproot and remake society to the extent called for by visionaries like Ehrlich, Berry, and Gaskin. But lawmakers, spurred on by environmental thinkers and advocates, did create a new legal framework for economic activity in the United States. Congress
there was a fella named Malthus who thought we were going to run out of food,” Reagan declared in September 1980. “But Malthus didn’t know about fertilizers and pesticides.” While Carter’s colleagues considered The Global 2000 Report as “significant as the Declaration of Independence,” Reagan dismissed it as unfounded pessimism and flawed reasoning. Reagan insisted that resource limits were not real and should not constrain America’s future.14 Reagan cast the 1980 election as a choice based on
tremendous poverty and crowds in Delhi overwhelmed his senses and deeply shaped his thinking. “I have understood the population explosion intellectually for a long time,” Ehrlich wrote about the trip to India in the opening pages of The Population Bomb. “I came to understand it emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi a couple of years ago.” My wife and daughter and I were returning to our hotel in an ancient taxi. The seats were hopping with fleas. The only functional gear was third. As we