Book recommendation: _The Ultimate Resource 2_.

I Find Karma (
Sun, 24 Aug 1997 22:14:11 -0700 (PDT)

Rohit, you need to set up a fork-books list. Amazon money, here we come...

Tonight's recommendation: Julian Simon, _The Ultimate Resource 2_.

Julian L. Simon is the world's greatest contrarian. The Ultimate
Resource 2--an update, not a sequel, despite the title--skewers the
sacred cows of environmentalism, population control, and Paul
Ehrlich. In the contest between resource scarcity and human ingenuity,
Simon bets the farm on the ability of intelligent people to overcome
their problems. Thankfully, he is not a theorist. This book lays out
convincing empirical evidence for Simon's prediction of a prosperous
future. The key to progress is not state-run conservation programs, he
says, but economic and political freedom. Only then can talented minds
properly apply themselves to our earthly dilemmas.

Arguing that the ultimate resource is the human imagination coupled to
the human spirit, Julian Simon has led a vigorous challenge to
conventional beliefs about scarcity of energy and natural resources,
pollution of the environment, the effects of immigration, and the
"perils of overpopulation." The comprehensive data, careful quantitative
research, and economic logic contained in the first edition of The
Ultimate Resource questioned widely held professional judgments about
the threat of overpopulation, and Simon's celebrated bet with Paul
Ehrlich about resource prices in the 1980s enhanced the public attention
- both pro and con- that greeted this controversial book.

Now Princeton University Press presents a revised and expanded edition
of The Ultimate Resource. The new volume is thoroughly updated and
provides a concise theory for the observed trends: Population growth and
increased income put pressure on supplies of resources. This increases
prices, which provides opportunity and incentive for innovation.
Eventually the innovative responses are so successful that prices end up
below what they were before the shortages occurred. The book also
tackles timely issues such as the supposed rate of species extinction,
the "vanishing farmland crisis," and the wastefulness of coercive

In Simon's view, the key factor in natural and world economic growth is
our capacity for the creation of new ideas and contributions to
knowledge. The more people alive who can be trained to help solve the
problems that confront us, the faster we can remove obstacles, and the
greater the economic inheritance we shall bequeath to our
descendants. In conjunction with the size of the educated population,
the key constraint on human progress is the nature of the
economic-political system: talented people need economic freedom and
security to bring their talents to fruition.

One reviewer says:

"I believed most of the environmentalist agenda before I read this book
without any critical thinking. This book has converted me from a worry
wart about the environment to much optimism about the world's future. I
believe this book should be required reading in high schools and
colleges to counter so much of the garbage out there from Carl Sagan,
Paul Ehrlich, and Lester Thurow types. I highly recommend it. The logic
of it makes so much sense."

Table of contents:

Introduction. What Are the Real Population and Resource Problems?
1. The Amazing Theory of Raw-Material Scarcity
2. Why Are Material-Technical Resource Forecasts So Often Wrong?
3. Can the Supply of Natural Resources - Especially Energy - Really Be
Infinite? Yes!
4. The Grand Theory
5. Famine 1995? or 2025? or 1975?
6. What Are the Limits on Food Production?
7. The Worldwide Food Situation Now: Shortage Crises, Glut Crises, and
8. Are We Losing Ground?
9. Two Bogeymen: "Urban Sprawl" and Soil Erosion
10. Water, Wood, Wetlands - and What Next?
11. When Will We Run Out of Oil? Never!
12. Today's Energy Issues
13. Nuclear Power: Tomorrow's Greatest Energy Opportunity
14. A Dying Planet? How the Media Have Scared the Public
15. The Peculiar Theory of Pollution
16. Whither the History of Pollution?
17. Pollution Today: Specific Trends and Issues
18. Bad Environmental and Resource Scares
19. Will Our Consumer Wastes Bury Us?
20. Should We Conserve Resources for Others' Sakes? What Kinds of
Resources Need Conservation?
21. Coercive Recycling, Forced Conservation, and Free-Market Alternatives
22. Standing Room Only? The Demographic Facts
23. What Will Future Population Growth Be?
24. Do Humans Breed Like Flies? Or Like Norwegian Rats?
25. Population Growth and the Stock of Capital
26. Population's Effects on Technology and Productivity
27. Economies of Scope and Education
28. Population Growth, Natural Resources, and Future Generations
29. Population Growth and Land
30. Are People an Environmental Pollution?
31. Are Humans Causing Species Holocaust?
32. A Greater Population Does Not Damage Health, or Psychological and Social
33. The Big Economic Picture: Population Growth and Living Standards in MDCs
34. The Big Picture II: LDCs
35. How the Comparisons People Make Affect Their Beliefs about Whether
Things Are Getting Better or Worse
36. The Rhetoric of Population Control: Does the End Justify the Means?
37. The Reasoning behind the Rhetoric
38. Ultimately - What Are Your Values?
39. The Key Values
Conclusion. The Ultimate Resource


Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be
comfortable? That's wwhen you know you've found someone really
special... when you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and
comfortably share the silence.
-- Pulp Fiction