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• Area of virgin tropical forest will decline
• Oceanic fishery harvest per person will decline
• Fewer plant and animal species will exist
• Deaths from AIDS will increase
• Sperm counts of human males decline; reproductive
disorders will increase.
• The gap in wealth between the richest 10% of humanity and
the poorest 10% will increase -This resembles key aspects of the Malthusian proposition:
p opulations grow faster than resources. As a consequence,
resources become more scarce. It seemed it was likely that Erlich
would win. Simon DENIED Simon declined to bet on those
• Rejected the proposal that those trends were
bad for humans
• Would have lost bet if he had accepted
• What do you think about those trends?
• Is Ehrlich a failed prophet, or just premature?
• Did Ehrlich warn in vain, or did his warnings
have an effect? -Do people lose credibility if they start warning too early?
"They've been warning us since the 60's .. nothing has happened
yet… therefore they must be wrong"
-Did this happen to Erlich? Is there any way to address population
that is not morally offensive?
• Consider the film Mother: Caring for Seven
• Proposition: human fertility rates fall when
women acquire more legal rights, more
education, and access to contraception
• Standard of living goes up
• No compulsion needed Population issues once dominated public
discourse, but no longer—why?
• Managing population not popular with either left
wing or right wing ideologues
– Left: Rich countries telling poor countries to restrict
reproduction is morally wrong
– Right: Birth control is morally wrong • Most economists push “growth” as essential; even
liberal press agrees
• It’s more comfortable to ignore things that seem “far
in the future,” especially tradeoffs with benefits
now, costs later Left: Reluctance in industrialized societies to tell people in
developing countries what to do. It is not morally sound to
g ive advice to the developing world after we've already
u ndergone demographic transition ourselves.
- Canadian economic growth is 2-3% per year
-Each year, that 2-3% becomes even MORE
-Economists push growth as essential : OPPOSITE of natural
s ystems 6...
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- Winter '14
- Demography, Annotated Lecture S, death rates, Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon