Ten years ago this month, a landmark book was published that put neo-Malthusianism on the defensive. The unvarnished facts were there to weaken doom-and-gloom prognostications, but it took a rare individual named Julian Simon (1932–1998) ) to uncover the anomalies and present them in integrated and compelling form–and to win the most famous wager in the history of economics!
Then came a young Dane named Bjørn Lomborg set out to refute Simon but instead rediscovered the bogey of fixed-pie, depletionist thinking. This audacious 36-year-old also found that whether the result was of market progress or regulation, virtually all environmental indicators were trending positively, not negatively. Lomborg could agree with the title of Simon’s last major public address, “More People, Greater Wealth, Expanded Resources, Cleaner Environment.”
A Heated Debate
And then, with the debate joined, came a slew of establishment neo-Malthusians, led by John Holdren, now Obama’s science advisor, who got emotional and nit-picked.…
“Some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century.”
– John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, “What We Must Do, and the Cost of Failure,” in Holdren and Ehrlich, Global Ecology (1971), p. 279.
“As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”
– Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature (1986), p. 274
“We have been warned by our more cautious colleagues that those who discuss threats of sociological and ecological disaster run the risk of being ‘discredited’ if those threats fail to materialize on schedule.”
– John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, eds., Global Ecology (1971), p. 6.
“John Holdren (like Paul Ehrlich) has done much to discredit himself by both his failed forecasts and his angry response to his critics….