Additional Information on Paul Ehrlich

Additional Information on Paul Ehrlich


● Throughout the 1970s and afterward, Ehrlich’s doomsday predictions snared a generation of reporters and Green activists who gave his totalitarian prescriptions serious consideration. Amon those predictions were the following:

  • “Smog disasters” in 1973 might kill 200,000 people in New York and Los Angeles. (1969)
  • Falling temperatures would cause the polar ice caps to sink into the ocean, producing “a global tidal wave that could wipe out a substantial portion of mankind” and cause “the sea level [to] rise 60 to 100 feet.” (1970)
  • “Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity … in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.” (1974)
  • “Actually, the problem in the world is that there is [sic] much too many rich people.” (Quoted by the Associated Press, April 6, 1990)
  • “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” (Quoted in The American Spectator, September 6, 1992)
  • “We’ve already had too much economic growth in the United States. Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.” (Quoted in Trashing the Planet, 1990)
  • “Since natural resources are finite, increased consumption must inevitably lead to depletion and scarcity.” (Quoted in The Atlantic Monthly, December 1997)

● In 1980, the late economist Julian Simon famously challenged Ehrlich to a bet regarding the future prices of five metals: chromium, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten. As The New York Times explains: “For years Mr. Ehrlich … had warned that rising populations would cause resource scarcity, even famine, with apocalyptic consequences for humanity. Mr. Simon … optimistically countered that human welfare would flourish thanks to flexible markets and our collective ingenuity. Mr. Ehrlich believed the metal prices would rise over the decade; Mr. Simon thought the prices would stay stable or even drop.” The terms of the bet required that the loser would pay, ten years later, the change in price of a $1,000 bundle of the five metals. Simon won the bet, as the prices of the five metals in 1990 were about half of their 1980 levels, even though the world’s population had grown by 800 million during the decade. One day in October 1990, Simon went to the mailbox of his Maryland home and found an envelope containing a list of metal prices along with a check for $576.07 from Ehrlich; there was no accompanying note.

● Ehrlich has a special interest in cultural evolution, especially with respect to environmental ethics, and he is deeply involved in the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) which he co-founded with his wife Anne and Professor Donald Kennedy.

● Ehrlich is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics; he is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

● Ehrlich has received several honorary degrees: the John Muir Award of the Sierra Club, the Gold Medal Award of the World Wildlife Fund International, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Volvo Environmental Prize (1993), the United Nations‘ Sasakawa Environment Prize (1994), the Heinz Award for the Environment (1995), the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1998), the Dr. A. H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences (1998), the Blue Planet Prize (1999), the Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America (2001), the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (2001), and the Margalef Prize in Ecology and Environmental Sciences (2009).

● In addition to The Population Bomb (1968), Ehrlich has also authored the books The End of Affluence: A Blueprint for Your Future (1974); The Race Bomb: Skin Color, Prejudice, and Intelligence (1977); Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species (1981); The Cold and the Dark: The World After Nuclear War (1984); The Population Explosion (1990); Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environment Rhetoric Threatens Our Future (1996); Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect (2000); Wild Solutions: How Biodiversity is Money in the Bank(2001); One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future(2004); The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment(2008); Hope on Earth: A Conversation (2014); and Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie: Australia, America, and the Environment (2015).


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