September 7, 2013

The Simon-Ehrlich Bet (and the nonbet)

From the NYT:
Betting on the Apocalypse

By PAUL SABIN 
Published: September 7, 2013

ONE day in October 1990, the iconoclastic economist Julian L. Simon walked out to get the mail at his house in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Md. In a small envelope sent from Palo Alto, Calif., he found a sheet of metal prices, along with a check for $576.07 from the biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. There was no note. 
Ten years earlier, Mr. Simon and Mr. Ehrlich, joined by two scientific colleagues, had made a wager on the future prices of five metals: chromium, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten. The bet — in which the loser would pay the change in price of a $1,000 bundle of the five metals — was a test of their competing theories of coming prosperity or doom. ... 
Paul Sabin is an associate professor of American history at Yale and the author of “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future.”

What's usually left out of this story is that Ehrlich learned from losing his first bet, and proposed a more sophisticated second bet. From Wikipedia:
Understanding that Simon wanted to bet again, Ehrlich and climatologist Stephen Schneider counter-offered, challenging Simon to bet on 15 current trends, betting $1000 that each will get worse (as in the previous wager) over a ten-year future period.[2] 
The trends they bet would continue to worsen were: 
The three years 2002–2004 will on average be warmer than 1992–1994. 
There will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than in 1994. 
There will be more nitrous oxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than 1994. 
The concentration of ozone in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) will be greater than in 1994. 
Emissions of the air pollutant sulfur dioxide in Asia will be significantly greater in 2004 than in 1994. 
There will be less fertile cropland per person in 2004 than in 1994. 
There will be less agricultural soil per person in 2004 than 1994. 
There will be on average less rice and wheat grown per person in 2002–2004 than in 1992–1994. 
In developing nations there will be less firewood available per person in 2004 than in 1994. 
The remaining area of virgin tropical moist forests will be significantly smaller in 2004 than in 1994. 
The oceanic fishery harvest per person will continue its downward trend and thus in 2004 will be smaller than in 1994. 
There will be fewer plant and animal species still extant in 2004 than in 1994. 
More people will die of AIDS in 2004 than in 1994. 
Between 1994 and 2004, sperm cell counts of human males will continue to decline and reproductive disorders will continue to increase. 
The gap in wealth between the richest 10% of humanity and the poorest 10% will be greater in 2004 than in 1994. 

Simon refused to bet on this.

The proposed bet on ocean fisheries, for example, reflects a better awareness on Ehrlich's part of the benefits of property rights. Egg ranchers don't kill off all the chickens that lay the tasty eggs because they own the chickens. But nobody owns mid-ocean fish until they're caught (Garrett Hardin's tragedy of the commons), so the lack of property rights encourage overfishing and poaching right now, rather than long-term stewardship. It's not an insoluble problem, but it is a difficult one.

In general, people like to wonder about grandiose overall questions: Prosperity or Doom???

But, I'm more interested in thinking about policies ceteris paribus. Moore's Law, for example, has covered up for a lot of bad policy decisions, but the relevant question is, given Moore's Law, how much better would things be if Stupid Policy X hadn't been implemented?

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paul R. Ehrlich - what a fraud. "Mr Population Bomb" who turned into "Mr Population Growth" when immigration got thrown into the mix.

Too many white American alarmed him. But there can never be too many people of color for Paul Ehrlich.

anony-mouse said...

Simon was right not to take the bet.

Simon's point is that things are getting better for people and that therefore the prices of those commodities would fall.

Very few of the elements of the second bets apply directly to the welfare of people (personally I like warmer weather) and the few that are could lead to misleading results.

For example if the wealth of the top 10% tripled and the wealth of the bottom 10% doubled Erlich would win that part of the bet.

Its also strange that a population doomster like Erlich would have a problem with the fall of sperm counts.

(BTW has anyone checked the actual results? I'm sure Erlich has lost at least on ozone concentration and I suspect, deaths from AIDS)

bjdubbs said...

Simon is an interesting figure. Before he was an economist, he ran a successful mail order coffee business and wrote a book on the topic. He also wrote a book on depression that isn't stupid. But like many recovering depressives and alcoholics, he tended to see optimism as a moral imperative, not as a potentially wrong opinion. Larry Kudlow, recovering alcoholic and coke addict, has the same tendency. George Bush too.

Jorn said...

so what's the outcome if the 2nd bet had been made?

blurred red lines said...

"Moore's Law" has been completely divorced from its original, actual significance. Now it just means whatever you chattering bloggers/journalists want it to, like the Heisenberg principle or the butterfly effect.

Anonymous said...

Moore's Law sure has been handy, but I still haven't figured out how to heat my house this winter with Facebook.

Thursday said...

Yes, we have a lot of phenomenally stupid (generally liberal) policies because we can afford them.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll bite. IF Simon had taken the bait and bet Ehrlich a second time, who would have won bet #2??

Who would hindsight have favored?

Brett_McS said...

"The three years 2002–2004 will on average be warmer than 1992–1994.

There will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than in 1994."

Well, there are two "worsenings" that are actually "betterings".

Isaac said...

Maybe Simon refused to bet because so many items on the new list were either irrelevant to their argument or difficult to verify.

Simon chose commodity prices because they were neither.

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z-_EWtBBRdk

In case you missed it, here's my interview with Michelle Malkin on #StopCommonCore

Anonymous said...

Simon's point is that things are getting better for people and that therefore the prices of those commodities would fall.

I don't understand your reasoning. If you mean that, "If things get better for people, then prices of commodities fall," that seems empirically dubious. Economic and population growth (things "getting better") would just as likely raise prices.

Further, it doesn't logically follow that if lower commodity prices mean that things are better.

For example if the wealth of the top 10% tripled and the wealth of the bottom 10% doubled Erlich would win that part of the bet.

Not if, as seems like, relative status and power are factors in happiness and well being.

Its also strange that a population doomster like Erlich would have a problem with the fall of sperm counts.

Would you find it strange if Ehrlich had a problem with high rates of infant mortality? Plagues? Infertility among women and men who wished for families? I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Simon refused to bet because so many items on the new list were either irrelevant to their argument or difficult to verify.

Simon chose commodity prices because they were neither.


Commodity prices weren't conclusive of the argument by any stretch.

Anonymous said...

"The three years 2002–2004 will on average be warmer than 1992–1994.

There will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than in 1994."

Well, there are two "worsenings" that are actually "betterings".


Not so.

Karen said...

The only one Simon would certainly have have won would be AIDS deaths, but that's due to retroviral drugs and fewer infections in Europe and North America. I'm not certain about rice and wheat yields, but it's my understanding that yields are flat at best. On everything else Simon would have lost.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/27/moores_law_will_be_repealed_due_to_economics_not_physics/

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept13/electronics9-13.html

Some interesting thoughts on moore's law

john doe

Anonymous said...

Some of those things are literally unmeasurable and others simply not good or bad in and of themselves which is why he wouldn't take the bet I'm guessing. No one knows how many animal species there are, and we have no way measuring extinction rates at all, all they have is a island model that is converted to continents without accounting for animals migrating. CO2 levels going up a few points per million is neither good nor bad and probably has no effect on climate. Besides Ehrlich predicted the price increases across the board, and Simon allowed him to pick any 5 commodities he wanted and for any time period longer than one year. Ehrlich and 2 others picked them and the 10 year window.

Schneider wanted to pick things that can't be objectively evaluated, less soil per capita? What does that mean? It doesn't necessarily mean less food per capita does it? But Schneider isn't betting food won't increase, just the total amount of soil divided by population, which is almost certain to go down even if agricultural productivity rises. The US probably has less soil per capita than 100 years ago, that doesn't mean we have less food, in fact we have more. Schneider wants to bet things that are either meaningless constructs or things that will go up because of industrialization but have no measurable real world effects. He can then "win" the bet of pointless factoids, notice how he didn't include increasing scarcity in any of his bets, not less food, not less oil or gas etc...

Anonymous said...

It's like someone betting on whether the Cowboys or Redskins would have the better long-term strategy, then wanting to change the bet to which team's name would have more letters.

Anonymous said...

An impossible question to answer, Steve, rather like saying that if Gavrilo Princep's parents had never met in the first place, then the world eould be an entirely different place, a geo-political settlement that's simply beyond our imagination for understanding, therefore the simple answer is just to ignore the idle speculation altogether for being as fruitless as it is speculative.

I suppose the point your getting at is that the productivity adavances due to the perfection of electronics have covered up some rather ire trends happening on the sinister side of the bell-curve. Perhaps, but methinks that the dominant trend of this century is the rise of China, everything else is a mere sideshow with carnival barkers et al bawling out dirty ditties at the top of their lungs. as the bard put it a load of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Well the point I'm making a hash of making is that, basically, whitey has had it. What's the bloody point of imaging all these dystopias and utopias if you're only 1% of the global population by century's end?

Time to spark up your wonderful Chinese made bargain basement priced tablet and look at what San Fernando's finest have got to offer you. As we live in an obscene bread 'n' circuses canival run by clowns, one might as well go with the flow and make the most of one's berth on the Titanic.

sabril said...

"The only one Simon would certainly have have won would be AIDS deaths"

And that's the only measure of the 15 which goes directly to human welfare.

sabril said...

"Yes, we have a lot of phenomenally stupid (generally liberal) policies because we can afford them."

Yes I agree. The US sometimes reminds me of the stereotypical trailer park dude who wins the lottery and blows the money on stupid things.

Anonymous said...

He moved from a bet about quantities of imminent practical importance (I can/cannot buy this amount of copper because of The Looming End Of The World) to a bet about emotive markers that The End Of The World is in fact Looming (there is less forest somewhere I will never go to, Chinese eat more meat and less rice, AIDS now takes 20 years to kill people rather than 2 years, etc.).

I'm not sure he learned to refine his argument so much as he learned to change to the subject. Ideally while giving people the impression that he hadn't, of course.

Anonymous said...

The original bet was essentially about whether population growth would overwhelm the capacity of technological improvements to increase the production of those raw materials which are necessary to maintain the current standard of living in developed countries. Ehrlich, a radical neo-Malthusian, argued that population growth would do this. Simon, proponent of a more nuanced view of economy and society, argued that technology would continue remove productivity constraints and enable production growth to adequately match growth in demand. Commodity prices are a trivial way to measure this. If demand is exceeding supply they will rise, if supply is exceedind demand they will fall. Such prices are very volatile in the short term which is why succesful speculators turn profits and unsuccesful ones seek other lines of work or jump off tall buildings. But over the intermediate term they are very reliable indicators of the general trend. So the original bet was a rational test of two competing theories and Ehrlich's ideas were roundly trashed.

The proposed new bet is based on a congeries of unrelated time-series each of which is characterized by one or more of the following: it relates to poorly understood epiphenomena, it involves difficult to measure variables and frequently phenomena whose very measurement techniques are controversial, it currently appears to show an intermediate (not short- or long-term trend) trend in the direction chosing by Ehrlich et al. In essence, Ehrlich cherry picked a bunch of difficult to measure time-series that appear to have been trending in the direction he has chosen to bet over an intermediate period of time and wants someone else to bet that they will not continue that trend over an additional relatively short period of time. Unless one is willing to assume that all these are stationary ARIMA(0,0,0) processes this is a sucker bet whose outcome weould prove nothing. As usual, Ehrlich is a con man who has learned to alter his spiel and really nothing more.

peterike said...

It would have been interesting in the 90s to have placed bets on cultural matters.

By 2013...

Will gay marriage be allowed in more than five states?

Will gays have a significant presence on television?

Will historically white nations be more or less white?

Will the United States be well on its way to a socialized medical system?

Will we have had a black President? A female President?

Would educational achievement go up or down?

I think I would have gotten most of those right if I bet at the time. Except for the President one. I probably would have said yes to female and no to black.

Anonymous said...

The US probably has less soil per capita than 100 years ago, that doesn't mean we have less food, in fact we have more.

But we have less capacity to produce food than we would have without de-soilification, and less capacity to feed our people than we would have without immigration.

The fact that the basis for food production--territory--is diminishing is ominous, even when production has increased due to unsustainable and nonrenewable inputs.

Anonymous said...

Ehrlich was right, Simon wrong:

Asset manager Jeremy Grantham wrote that if the Simon–Ehrlich wager had been for a longer period (from 1980 to 2011), then Simon would have lost on four of the five metals. He also noted that if the wager had been expanded to "all of the most important commodities," instead of just five metals, over that longer period of 1980 to 2011, then Simon would have lost "by a lot." He concluded, "So, please "Cornucopians," let's not hear any more of the Ehrlich-Simon bet ... Ehrlich's argument was right (so far)."

--See Wikipedia article

Luke Lea said...

Simon favored the principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. So do I. Unfortunately, Simon's interpretation was "the more the merrier." He favored unlimited population growth, had no concept of optimum population.

neil craig said...

"More sophisticated" in the ancient Greek meaning of the word, from which sophistry is derived, ie cleverly designed to mislead, not from the modern one of being better calculated.

For example estimating that Asia (not the world as a whole) will be producing more sulphur ismerely to say you expect it will be producing more energy, which is actually a considerable improvement for Chines who used to starve during bad harvests. Most of the others are equally about some unimportant, carefully selected and very limited target, of little, or negative, relevance to human well being.

What is omitted from the "environmentalist" recounting is that Ehrlich refused to repeat the same bet he had judged fair & been so confident of and despite the doomsaying not one other ecofascist has been willing to either.

The refusal to accept a different fixed bet says nothing against the original disagreement - the refusal of ANYBODY to repeat the original does.

Steve Sailer said...

American farmers undertook quiet but important changes in late 20th Century to reduce soil runoff.

Environmental problems aren't insoluble, but they are often hard.

Anonymous said...

What is omitted from the "environmentalist" recounting is that Ehrlich refused to repeat the same bet he had judged fair & been so confident of and despite the doomsaying not one other ecofascist has been willing to either.

The data show that Simon was merely lucky. Considering all ten year periods around that time frame, Ehrlich would have won 63 percent of the time.

Anonymous said...

Environmental problems aren't insoluble, but they are often hard.

Hard enough to be effectively insoluble.

Anonymous said...

The refusal to accept a different fixed bet says nothing against the original disagreement - the refusal of ANYBODY to repeat the original does.

Actually it says quite a lot. It says that a greater appreciation of multivariate causation and price volatility in a narrow class of metals formed an understanding that metal prices were a poor proxy for trends in human welfare.

Anonymous said...

Right and if we just give the Millerites another 500 more years maybe they will be right too. The special pleading commenters at this site do for their pet little doommongers is disgusting. Its all Ockham's razor, manly, rational, unstinting analysis until their pig gets stuck and then it becomes "well yes but uh um you see we have to discard this and change that decimal and you see we were really right you see."

Neil Craig nails it more sophisticated like Enron's accounting practices were more sophisticated. I take some solace in the fact that Erlich's line officials dies as he has no sons, but even this doom monger in an age of artifical birth control couldn't put an IUD where his mouth was and die childless.

That's the thing Luke Lea to be a consistent exponent of greatest happiness for greatest number you can't really accept a limit. For instance, I think my kids will be more successful and happier than my neighbors so I will have four kids and he can have none. That's where you mushy view leads. I mean I hear you it makes sense to me that currently some regions have too many kids and some not enough but how you can get there from Simon's principles I can't grasp.

Anonymous said...

The special pleading commenters at this site do for their pet little doommongers is disgusting. Its all Ockham's razor, manly, rational, unstinting analysis until their pig gets stuck and then it becomes "well yes but uh um you see we have to discard this and change that decimal and you see we were really right you see."

Riiiight. Because the prices of five metals at two points in time over ten years are such an excellent barometer of where the world is heading.

Psyche.

Right and if we just give the Millerites another 500 more years maybe they will be right too.

Ehrlich was right, if you'd take most any other ten year measure around that period, and he has been right just 30 years out, not 500.

Anonymous said...

92 to 94 were years of pinatubo volcano cooling so that one was a sucker bet under almost all scenarios.

Forbes said...

>Anonymous said...
Ehrlich was right, Simon wrong:

Well hardly. If you changed the bet (hindsight being 20/20) to terms favorable to Ehrlich, Ehrlich would be right. Money manager Jeremy Grantham is a noted environmental doomsayer. It helps to point out bias. It's terrific to see Wikipedia keeps up with such irrelevances as Jeremy Grantham's opinion about a different bet.

The bet agreed to is the only bet that counts. I think Steve Sailer believes most of his readers are familiar with the background. Anonymous at 6:00 am has a good reckoning. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Simon's interpretation was "the more the merrier." He favored unlimited population growth, had no concept of optimum population.

Did he have a "the more the merrier" approach to the population in Palestine?

Luke Lea said...

That's the thing Luke Lea to be a consistent exponent of greatest happiness for greatest number you can't really accept a limit

Let's think about this. There is the distribution problem, which has to be balanced against the incentive to reward effort. Then there is the question whether adding more people will make the ones already there happier than before. In other words, assuming a declining marginal utility of money, the ideal is an economy that will produce the greatest total happiness divided by the number of people. That is what I would call the greatest happiness principle. It assumes that all people are alike in their capacity to enjoy life and the material goods that human effort (which is a pain) produces; and that all else equal, a dollar is worth more to a poor man than a rich one.

What you end up with, ideally, is a free market economy within the closed borders of a nation, the majority of which decides whether they would be better off if they let more people in. In short, the greatest happiness principle -- as I favor it -- is a national, not a global ideal. Which is not to say that it is inconsistent over the long term with maximum global welfare as well -- via free trade, free mobility of capital, and income redistribution.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.

Luke Lea said...

The greatest happiness principle would seem to be consistent with the possibility of putting limits on people's right to have children -- and, also, ofintroducing incentives for certain kinds of people to have more children (namely the kinds that will increase the happiness of the rest of society).

Steve Sailer said...

Good call on the global warming sucker bet that used 1992-1994 as the baseline. The summer of 1992 in Chicago was extremely mild due to dust in the atmosphere from the 1991 Pinatubo explosion in the Pacific.

Anonymous said...

The bet agreed to is the only bet that counts.

Counts for the wagered amount. But it is mostly irrelevant to whether things are, ceterus paribus, getting better or worse.

Anonymous said...

There is the distribution problem, which has to be balanced against the incentive to reward effort.

Pleas explain.

Anonymous said...

Well of course things are getting worse for Paul Erlich I mean how many copies of Population Bomb sold last year. New copies not ironically purchased copies and Half Price Books which to be perfectly I haven't ever seen a copy of it there either. You see how subject this all becomes. For a lot of people having a brood of kids makes them very very happy. For all the talk of affordable family formation really its only Steve that seems to you know have formed a family. From my perspective a family with three kids has a lot more moral authority complaining about over population than a crotechy single person. They have taken care of their biological and for some religious imperative. From aging grumbling single males it just comes across as misanthropic why can't my commute be shorter.


Luke that may all be correct but the fact of the matter is the best way to make someone unhappy is to say they can't do something. Why not say instead that you are a meliorist or whatever it was Thomas Hardy would use as his "who me an atheist" deflection. You believe in constantly improving the world (of which much happiness would be the byproduct)but not one of greatest happiness for greatest numbers.

neil craig said...

"Anonymous said...
Ehrlich was right, Simon wrong"

If so the refusal of ANY alarmist to repeat the bet is inexplicable ;-)

I'm not sure that one year's volcanic cooling would have anything like the effect on industry and thus resource prices, that they directly have on plant growth and thus food prices.

If the cost of raw materials of industry are not a good proxy of the relationship between the growing role of technology & labour in production and the consequent declining one of raw materials I would be interested to know what is.

neil craig said...

"Anonymous said...
Ehrlich was right, Simon wrong"

If that were so it would be impossible to explain the refusal, not just of Ehrlich but of ANY ecofascist to repeat the bet.

I don't think one year's volcanic activity would have a significant effect on industrial resource prices. The dust prevents crop growth and directly raised food prices but has no such immediate effect on industry.

If there is a better indicator of the change to the prime factor in industrial productivity being technology rather than resources than the, in wages terms, declining cost of those resources I am sure some Ehrlich supporter will be able to name it.

Luke Lea said...

"There is the distribution problem, which has to be balanced against the incentive to reward effort.

Pleas explain."

Effort needs to be rewarded in order to maximize the welfare of the individual worker. If you redistribute income to workers irrespective of their effort (like the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children) you end up taxing effort to support free riders, which is sub-minimum.

Let me admit this is a very difficult problem, especially in this age of automation, free trade, and mass immigration -- all of which tend to redistribute income from labor to capital (ie, from the many to the few) which reduces welfare below its ideal maximum.

The solution -- and this is just me talking (or rather just me and a few knowledgeable economist: Irving Fisher, Nicholas Kaldor, former Senator Sam Nunn, etc.) is to tax consumption rather than income and use the proceeds to subsidize wages. More specifically the answer is a graduated expenditure tax and a modified version of the earned-income tax credit which reaches a certain maximum but then does not decline with further increases in wages and salaries. I cannot begin to argue the case in this limited space so won't even try.

Luke Lea said...

Why not say instead that you are a meliorist or whatever . . .[that] You believe in constantly improving the world (of which much happiness would be the byproduct)but not one of greatest happiness for greatest numbers.

Fair enough. I believe in the greatest happiness of the current population of my country and their descendants. Thus I would favor any policy that would tend to increase the general welfare-- as, for example, a vast expansion of the earned-income tax credit for low and middle-income workers financed by a graduated expenditure tax.

Other policies I would favor on the same grounds would be an across-the-board moratorium on immigration and new statutory limits on the length of the work week (six hour day, thirty hour week, double pay for overtime).

Of course there is always room for disagreement over policy issues, which is what economics is or should be about. (Like religion economics is a subject about which almost no one agrees. ) Ultimately our elected politicians -- real statesmen hopefully -- must decide.

Anonymous said...

http://www.suntimes.com/22212263-761/watchdogs-tally-in-illinois-grant-fraud-probe-so-far-13-charged-16m-embezzled.html

Modern Abraham said...

Ehrlich's modified bet IS a sucker's bet as so many of the trends use a per-capita metric that is guaranteed to "worsen" given it's a fixed resource divided by an increasing global population.

The other key is that price is a much more important gauge of welfare than abstract quantity. The drop in metals prices does not necessarily mean a greater quantity of them became available; prices would still go down even when absolute supply decreases provided substitute resources become available.

Yeah, if you had told a person in 1860 that the number of horses per capita in the United States would drop by 65% in the next 100 years, they'd have swooned at the coming impoverishment of the nation.

pat said...

There is a natural fear and hatred between 'ecologists' and economists - rather like the relationship between monkeys and snakes.

I once attended a talk at the Lawrence Hall of Science by pop environmentalist David Suzuki. When he got around to discussing Simon he practically frothed at the mouth. He took the position that economics was everywhere a bogus discipline and its adherents were intrinsically evil. That sort of rhetoric is well received in Berkeley.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Ehrlich's modified bet IS a sucker's bet as so many of the trends use a per-capita metric that is guaranteed to "worsen" given it's a fixed resource divided by an increasing global population.

There is no better metric of human welfare than resources per person.

It is a sucker's bet only insofar as betting that things are improving when the human population exceeds the planet's carrying by an order of 5 is a sucker's bet.

neil craig said...

"There is no better metric of human welfare than resources per person."

So in 20,000 BC when all the Earth's resources, including those used in the last couple of centuries, were still in the ground the million cavemen were each about 6,000 times better off than we are now.

Reality and the ecofascists clearly have not even a nodding acquaintance, but then Simon proved that already.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

There is no better metric of human welfare than resources per person.

Just state this early on, use a handle, and allow us to ignore you. Please. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Simon was a jew who believed that since we are created in God's image we would be able to avoid the Malthusian problem.
Ehrlich was a zoologist who conflated humans with ants and fruit flies. Not to mention his ideological foolishness.

stengle said...

The fact they had the resources, time and inclination to even have a bet is all you need to know. Time was, i suspect, when betting came pretty far down the list of things a person had to do today to survive.

I almost said "I bet there was a time" but then I'd be falling into the same trap.

Anonymous said...

Did he have a "the more the merrier" approach to the population in Palestine?

Or Romania?

Anonymous said...

Steven Earl Salmony

The Ehrlich-Simon bet

The gambling that occurred between a scientist and an economist was idiotic. Even though the scientist has been proven to be correct in many respects, the scientist lost the bet. Perversions of science such as those by economists have served to distract, mislead and set back the science of human population dynamics and overpopulation for too long. Similarly, a widely shared and consensually validated, preter-natural demographic transition theory (DTT) promulgated by demographers served a common purpose. This theoretical perversion of science ignored, avoided and denied apparently unforeseen and admittedly unwelcome research related to the diminishing prospects for future human wellbeing and environmental health on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of a finite and frangible planet like Earth.

On our watch many too many people listen to and act upon what the economists and demographers say because their pseudoscience is politically convenient, economically expedient, legally rationalized, socially accepted, religiously tolerated and culturally syntonic. Their fabrications and optical delusions have acquired the imprimatur of science at least in large part because too many people with scientific knowledge refuse to stand up and speak out in affirmation of the best available scientific evidence. Too many scientists will not speak truth, according to the lights and science they possess, to those with the great wealth and power.

All that is actively and wrongheadedly being done by those who are few in number to massively extirpate global biodiversity, to recklessly dissipate finite resources, to relentlessly degrade the environment and to threaten the future of children everywhere is bad enough. The elective mutism perpetrated by so many knowledgeable people is even worse. The masters of the universe along with their sycophants and minions, all of whom act as if "greed is good" and money rules the world, are but a few; those with 'feet of clay' are many. Thank you to everyone here and elsewhere with feet of clay for speaking out as if you are a million voices. By so doing we educate one another to what science discloses to all of us about the placement of the human species within the order of living things on Earth and the way the blessed world we inhabit works. Otherwise, the silence of so many and the greedmongering of so few kill the world.

neil craig said...

What one might expect from somebody who claims Ehrlich a "scientist".

To be fair, so does the Royal Society but they gave up being a scientific institution and became a state funded propaganda one long ago.