Paul Ehrlich
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"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make, ... The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years."   Paul Ehrlich in an interview with Peter Collier in the April 1970 of the magazine Mademoiselle.

By...[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s."   Paul Ehrlich in special Earth Day (1970) issue of the magazine Ramparts.  


"The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines . . . hundreds of millions of people (including Americans) are going to starve to death." (Population Bomb 1968)
"Smog disasters" in 1973 might kill 200,000 people in New York and Los Angeles. (1969)
"I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." (1969)
"Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity . . . in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." (1976)
"By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people." (1969)
"By 1980 the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 because of pesticides, and by 1999 its population would drop to 22.6 million." (1969)

"Since natural resources are finite, increased consumption must inevitably lead to depletion and scarcity."  The Atlantic Monthly 1997

"Human-induced land degradation affects about 40% of the planet's vegetated land surface," and is "accelerating nearly everywhere, reducing crop yields." The Atlantic Monthly 1997

He envisioned the President dissolving Congress "during the food riots of the 1980s," followed by the United States suffering a nuclear attack for its mass use of insecticides. The End of Affluence 1975

The bet with Julian Simon

In 1980 an American economist, Julian Simon resolved to show Ehrlich up.  He set up a bet wherein he would sell Ehrlich $1,000 dollars worth of any five commodities that Ehrlich chose. Ehrlich would hold the commodities for ten years. If the prices rose -- meaning scarcity -- Simon would buy the commodities back from Ehrlich at the higher price. If the prices fell, Ehrlich would pay Simon the difference. Professor Ehrlich jumped at the bet, noting that he wanted to "accept the offer before other greedy people jumped in."

In October 1990, Ehrlich paid Simon a check for $570.07. As Simon had predicted, free markets provided lower prices and more options. Simon would have won even if prices weren't adjusted for inflation. 

Simon offered to raise the wager to $20,000 and use any resources at any time that Ehrlich preferred. Ehrlich refused, and later claimed that he was "goaded into making a bet with Simon on a matter of marginal environmental importance."



Here's a good one.

Ehrlich had a vasectomy shortly after receiving tenure at Stanford -- showing once again that tenure does limit production


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Last modified: September 10, 2006