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Activists - World - Earth - Day - Warnings
As activists around the world recently celebrated Earth Day with warnings about the awful state of our planet, now seems like the right time to share the good news that actually -- contrary to countless dire predictions -- we're not running out of resources. In fact, the late economist and scholar Julian Simon was right: People again and again have innovated "their way out of resource shortages."
As Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute reminds us in an article about "18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970," back in 1969, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote that "Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born." He added that by 1975, "some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions." In 1970, he revised his prediction for the worse to warn us, as Perry writes, that "between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the 'Great Die-Off.'"
Group - Club - Rome - Predictions
In 1972, a group known as the Club of Rome made similarly apocalyptic predictions.
In response, Dr. Simon, who at the time of his death in 1998 was an economics professor at the University of Maryland, argued that these predictions were wholly unwarranted. There would be no extinction from starvation. Simon recognized that people are the ultimate resource and would innovate their way toward greater abundance.
Simon - Ehrlich - Wager - Ehrlich - Population
Ultimately, Simon challenged Ehrlich to a wager. Ehrlich believed that population growth meant increased scarcity and, hence, higher commodity prices. Simon believed that "more people meant more brains," which means better extraction technologies, more...
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