RE: Book recommendation: _The Ultimate Resource 2_.

Dan Kohn (
Sun, 24 Aug 1997 22:30:21 -0700

Ahh, this is one of my favorite books. For all those economists out
there who make horrible environmentalists because (gasp) you actually
think critically about these issues, this is your book.

Also note that not only does Simon think the world is doing great (and
provide a theory as to why), he puts his money where his mouth is. That
is, we will bet anyone that any factor of the human condition will get
better over time. This doesn't mean that he'll bet the ozone hole is
not increasing, but he will bet that skin cancers will decrease
(something that matters to humans).

*Everyone* should have this book on their shelf, if only to know how to
refute his points. Also good is a sort of companion volume, which has
statistics and background on nearly every indicator of human well-being.
The State of Humanity
<> is eminently
skimmable and a great desktop reference.

Remember, Thomas Malthus (saying population grows geometrically but food
arithmetically, so we'll all starve in the end, which also gave
economics its title the dismal science) was full of shit two centuries
ago, and still is today.

- dan

P.S. Adam, you need to remove the state-id (the final "/" and number)
from amazon URLs to quote them correctly.

Daniel Kohn <>
Teledesic Corporation     PGP KeyID: 0x6129DD6D
+1-425-602-6222 (voice)   602-0002 (fax)

> -----Original Message----- > From: I Find Karma [] > Sent: Sunday, August 24, 1997 10:14 PM > To: > Subject: Book recommendation: _The Ultimate Resource 2_. > > 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. > > From the Publisher: > > 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 > recycling. > > 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 > Government > 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 > Well-Being > 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