The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth's Future
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.
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speed, many of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s environmental ideas had become mainstream, represented at the highest levels of American power, including the White House.10 On Thursday, December 12, 1974, Jimmy Carter, the little-known governor of Georgia, went to the National Press Club in Washington to announce his candidacy for president. Carter focused much of his speech on post-Watergate political reforms, including measures to promote transparency in government and reduce corruption and the
unorthodox position on immigration ultimately led to him shifting his affiliation from the Heritage Foundation to the Cato Institute, which was more committed to free market ideology.50 In addition to his enthusiasm for the free movement of labor, Simon’s cherished memories of growing up in the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark clearly influenced his proimmigrant sentiments. Simon freely acknowledged that his “values and tastes favor having more immigrants.” He explained, “I delight in looking at
political debate and helped to make environmental problems, especially climate change, among the most polarizing and divisive political questions. Ehrlich and Simon both made contributions unacknowledged by the other. Paul Ehrlich’s contribution—and that of environmental scientists as a whole after World War II—lay in the ability to reveal the deep connections between humans and nature and to show how the planet was changing. Through research and advocacy, Ehrlich and other scientists helped
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