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The Ultimate Resource 2 Paperback – July 1, 1998
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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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I'm a big fan of Julian Simon, but feel that, as amazing as human ingenuity is, he nevertheless overstates the case. Take that famous bet with Paul Ehrlich, for example. I think Simon got lucky. Look at the date of my writing: if they had made that bet 5 years ago, and petroleum had been one of the resources on the list, Simon would have lost. Petroleum has gotten more expensive, even adjusted for inflation.
Sure, his basic point is sound - that eventually human ingenuity will find a way around the problem. I agree: eventually. But in the meantime there are killer high oil prices and a lot of suffering and doing without. Simon seems to give that short shrift.
About Simon getting lucky, this isn't just my imagination. Here's Paul Kedrosky with the hard data:
"Without getting into it too deeply, here are some things worth knowing. Given the above graph of the five commodities' prices in inflation-adjusted terms, it will surprise no-one that the bet's payoff was highly dependent on its start date. Simon famously offered to bet comers on any timeline longer than a year, and on any commodity, but the bet itself was over a decade, from 1980-1990. If you started the bet any year during the 1980s Simon won eight of the ten decadal start years. During the 1990s things changed, however, with Simon the decadal winners in four start years and Ehrlich winning six - 60% of the time. And if we extend the bet into the current decade, taking Simon at his word that he was happy to bet on any period from a year on up (we don't have enough data to do a full 21st century decade), then Ehrlich won every start-year bet in the 2000s. . . . [This] means Simon was right but fairly lucky. There is nothing wrong with being lucky, of course, but compulsive Simon/Ehrlich-citers need to be reminded that it is no law of nature (let alone of rickety old economics) that commodity prices (inflation-adjusted or otherwise) trend inexorably downward, even over a decade."
Lets take one example, copper. Copper was heavily used in the telecommunictions industry as well as in electronics. But the heavier user was in telecommunications. All of the scare about copper running out was nonsense in many ways. But the way that no ideologically driven socialist/environmentalist ever considers is through invention and innovation. The invention of fiber optical cable eliminated millions of tons worth of copper phone lines. Optical cable is made out of sand, the most abundant resource on the planet. We will never run out. Then consider that nano-technology is already working on making a nano fiber that will conduct electricity. Nano fibers are made out of carbon, THE most abundant resource in the universe! As soon as that work is finished, millions of tons of copper overhead electrical and underground cable will be recycled. Coppers price will go down again, and its abundance will increase. Humans continue to do this, create something that has never existed before and increase the abundance of all resources.
Lets also recognize that it was the discovery of petroleum oil and its production that saved the whales, as it made the whaling fleets obsolete. Wihtin a few years the whaling towns of boston and maine went mostly bust. Whaling was expensive and dangerous. Petroleum oil, not whale oil then became the lubricant of the industrial revolution. Lets think about photography and silver. All film was silver intensive. With the advent of digital photography, now including digital x-rays! All of the silver and all of the chemicals once needed are not needed any longer. This now frees up that resource! Every advance in technology eventually replaces the lower, least productive and least efficient technology. It is an ongoing evolutionary process!
The difference between Dr. Simon and the green left is one of basic philosohpy. He and those like him believe in humanity and humanities incredible capabilities and the detractors do not. Is the glass half empty or half full is not a cogent arguement as long as one side [the green communists] stops up the mouth of the glass and allows no new water into the glass.
If you can stop all invovation and sustain humanity then yes, all resources will eventually run out! That is the main point.
M. A. Plus "Advanced Atheist"
<<"Apparently Simon's model for "unlimited" resources has begun to break down. The increasingly strained world oil supply shows that throwing more ingenuity and money at a resource problem can't always solve it." >>
What Simon's critics never include in their "devanced" calculus is the factor of government interference in the markets through burdensome regulation. Environmental regulations, prohibitions on drilling, mining etc has caused an artificial shortage in these resources. These Enviro-morons have missed Simon et al's arguement. That given a free market and indivudals left alone to persue their "self" interesst all resources would drop in price and increase in abundance. Simon would win again if "environmentlaly safe" mining, drilling and exploration was allowed in and around the continental united states and throughout the world.
It is the artifical shortages cuased by enviro-socialism that makes it apear to the intellectually shallow, as if resources are increasing in scarcity and are going up in price.
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