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The Ultimate Resource 2 Paperback – July 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Julian Simon's 1981 book The Ultimate Resource excoriated prominent environmentalists for resorting to scare tactics and data-bending.... As Simon notes, the past sixteen years have been kind to many of his ideas.... Much as Simon had predicted, global per capita food production edged upward steadily while population rose and air quality improved in many places and ways."--Kathleen Courrier, The Washington Post

"With a full understanding of the opposition and smears he would encounter, Simon nevertheless wrote The Economics of Population Growth, Population Matters, and his best-known book, The Ultimate Resource. To him, the ultimate resource was human intelligence. We should also add, in honor of Simon, the courage to use that intelligence."--Thomas Sowell, Chicago Sun-Times

"The most powerful challenge to be mounted against the principles of popular environmentalism in the last fifteen years."--The Washington Post Book World

"Compelling and often brilliantly original. . . . [Simon's] economic analysis will leave a lot of readers heavily revising their thinking about the world around them."--Fortune

"The Ultimate Resource is the most powerful challenge to be mounted against the principles of popular environmentalism in the last 15 years. . . . What is most startling is its deep-rooted optimism about the human condition. . . . [A] landmark book."--Washington Post Book World

"The truly delightful aspect of the book is its persistent iconoclasm. Page after page, Simon punctures myths of scarcity and offers instead the counsels of optimism."--The American Spectator

"Julian Simon, an economics professor, systematically, shockingly, irresponsibly explodes each and every foundation of the whole environmental movement. And he does so with so many facts, graphs and examples that it would be a strange person who could walk away from reading this book without his or her faith in the assumptions of the environmental movement being just a little bit shaken up. . . . This is a magnificent book with the power to change minds."--Matt Ridley, The Sunday Telegraph

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 778 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691003815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691003818
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
On Sunday, February 8th, psychologist and economist Julian L. Simon succumbed to a heart attack in Maryland. It is difficult to overstate the damage his death will cause the world debate on overpopulation, natural resources, and the environment. Dr. Simon's prolific and energetic mind gave rise to fourteen books and countless papers and lectures, dedicated to overthrowing the dogma that underlies so much of today's environmental discourse.
Simon, still considered a maverick after thirty years of relentless data-gathering, impeccable empirical work, and well-thought out conclusions, questioned the unquestionable. He maintained that the earth is in good shape by every conceivable measure, and that the environmental situation continues to improve each year. Every index of human happiness - food prices, net income, infant mortality, life expectancy, disease rates - has steadily improved. He documented those claims with reams of data, culminating in his 1996 tour de force The State of Humanity. It is absolutely comprehensive, and contains enough obscure data to make the most jaded Trivial Pursuit fan squirm (if you ever want to read about the average lower-class Brazilian's annual starch intake, look no further).
Constantly vilified by his critics, Simon always had a small and devoted following. He was dubbed 'the Doomslayer' by Wired magazine for his repeated skewering of environmental fanatics and 'Birkenstock Puritans.' Perhaps the most memorable episode happened in 1980. Simon wrote exasperatedly in an article that he was sick and tired of environmentalists' insistence that large-scale natural starvation was right around the corner. He invited them to put their money where their mouths were.
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64 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Craig Kenneth Bryant on October 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Now in a second edition, and what a treat that is, because now the unquenchable optimism and sound forcasting of the first volume is backed up by decades of confirmatory data. Resources of all kinds--foods, metals, energy--are more abundant and cheaper, life expectancy is up, and so is the worldwide standard of living. Why is this so, in spite of the dire warnings (The Population Bomb, Famine: 1975!) of the latest crop of doomsayers? Read the book and find out. Find out also, why these trends show no signs of turning around--why the world will be even richer and more prosperous in the next century.
A reader, in an earlier review, suggests that Simon's ideas are "ridiculous" (in spite of the fact that he has been proven right, time and time again, and the doomsayers have to come out with new books every few years, adjusting forward their predictions of a doomsday that never comes), and goes on to say some very stupid things about "limits to the food supply." Go read them, then consider--that review, like most doomsayers, admits startling progress in increasing food yields, then assumes that such progress is over, or nearly so (six millennia of agricultural advance to the contrary). Why? In the first hundred pages of this book, Simon details cutting-edge technologies being employed commercially _today_ that could raise worldwide food production by orders of magnitude. But the eco-tastrophe crowd keeps talking about "closed systems," in spite of the fact that every new technological innovation keeps making the "system" effectively larger and larger.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By David Gillies on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a bombshell. It remorselessly devastates the current ecology doom mongers' shibboleths: population density, resource depletion, pollution, deforestation and species loss. Julian Simon was vilified in his life by the vocal ecology campaigners (special and dishonourable mention should be made of the egregious Paul Erhlich, he of the 'Population Bomb' and other wholly fictitious disasters). Why did Simon attract this venom from people who dub themselves 'scientists'? Simply this: he dared to challenge the orthodoxy that human beings are an ecological cancer that is busy raping the planet and drowning in its own filth. How did he do it? Not with invective, selective quotation and flat-out lies, like the 'deep ecologists' or the Zero Population Growth fanatics, but with facts - cold, hard facts and lots of them. He pointed out that the only economic variable that can properly describe the scarcity of a resource in the absence of full knowledge of its true abundance is price. And he points out that the prices of all resources have been falling relentlessly. This observation led to the well-known $1000 bet with the aforementioned Paul Erhlich, effectively a futures contract, which saw the sadly unchastened Erhlich hand over nearly $600 to Simon. Simon's model for resource usage is that scarcity temporarily drives the price of a commodity up, at which point it is either used more efficiently, or a suitable substitute is discovered. After all, the sole economic value of a commodity is its utility. We value copper for its high conductance. But with the increasing substitution of fibre optics (made from sand - even the environmentalists would concede there is no imminent shortage of this) copper has declined in usefulness, and its price has dropped.Read more ›
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