- Julian Lincoln Simon
Julian Lincoln Simon (born
February 12, 1932; died February 8, 1998in Chevy Chase, Marylandcite web |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE0DD153CF931A25751C0A96E958260 |title=Julian Simon, 65, Optimistic Economist, Dies |last=Gilpin |first=Kenneth N. |authorlink=Kenneth N. Gilpin |coauthors= |work=B11 |publisher=The New York Times|date=1998-02-12 |format= |language= |doi= |accessdate=2008-05-18 |archiveurl=http://www.webcitation.org/5XundBtyT |archivedate=2008-05-18 |quote=...died at his home in Chevy Chase, Md., on Sunday.] of heart attack) was a professorof business administrationat the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He wrote many books and articles, mostly on economic subjects. He is best known for his work on population, natural resources, and immigration. He was the primary proponent of the cornucopianbelief in endless benefits from resources and unlimited population growth empowered by technological progress. His works are often cited by libertarians in support of their arguments.Fact|date=May 2008
His 1981 book "The Ultimate Resource" is a criticism of the conventional wisdom on
population growth, raw-material scarcity and resource consumption. Simon argues that our notions of increasing resource-scarcity ignore the long-term declines in wage-adjusted raw material prices. Viewed economically, he argues, increasing wealth and technology make more resources available; although supplies may be limited physically they may be viewed as economically indefinite as old resources are recycled and new alternatives are developed by the market. Simon challenged the notion of a pending Malthusian catastrophe—that an increase in population has negative economic consequences; that population is a drain on natural resources; and that we stand at risk of running out of resources through over-consumption. Simon argues that population is the solution to resource scarcities and environmental problems, since people and markets innovate. His critique was praised by Nobel Laureate economists Friedrich Hayek& Milton Friedman, the latter in a 1998 foreword to "The Ultimate Resource II", but has also attracted many critics, such as Paul R. Ehrlichand Albert Bartlett.
Simon examined different raw materials, especially metals and their prices in historical times. He assumed that besides temporary shortfalls, in the long run prices for raw materials remain at similar levels or even decrease. E.g. aluminium was never as expensive as before 1886 and steel used for medieval armor carried a much higher price tag in current dollars than any modern parallel. His 1984 book "
The Resourceful Earth" (co-edited by Herman Kahn), is a similar criticism of the conventional wisdomon population growth and resource consumption and a direct response to the Global 2000report. For example it predicted that "There is no compelling reason to believe that world oil prices will rise in the coming decades. In fact, prices may well fall below current levels".
With respect to oil, the (2008) price rose to $142, exceeding its previous record (inflation adjusted) in the late 1800s.Fact|As far as I can rember there's a lot of different ways to calculate this. In an article in The Economist I think the tresshold mentioned there was 150 USD|date=October 2008 It fell after the 1970s oil shortages to comparably low levels in the late 1980s and 1990s (though not all the way to the 1970 prices, to say nothing of the record lows of the 1930s).Fact|date=October 2008
Simon was skeptical, in 1994, of claims that human activity caused global environmental damage, notably in relation to
CFCs, ozone depletionand climate change, the latter primarily because of the rapid switch from fears of global coolingand a new ice age(in the mid 1970s) to the later fears of global warming. [cite web
title=Scarcity or Abundance? A Debate on the Environmentndash Chapter 5ndash Atmospheric Issues
quote=] Simon also listed numerous claims about severe environmental damage and health dangers from pollution as "definitely disproved". These included claims about lead pollution & IQ,
DDT, PCBs, malathion, Agent Orange, asbestos, and the chemical contamination at Love Canal. [The Ultimate Resource 2, pp260-265]
Simon was one of the founders of
free-market environmentalism.An article "The Doomslayer"cite web
work=Wired (Issue 5.02)
quote=] profiling Julian Simon in Wired magazine inspired
Bjørn Lomborgto write the book " The Skeptical Environmentalist".
Simon was also the first to suggest that
airlines should provide rewards for travelers to give up their seats on overbooked flights, rather than arbitrarily taking random passengers off the plane (a practice known as "bumping"). Although the airline industry initially laughed at him, his plan was later implemented with resounding success, as recounted by Milton Friedman in the foreword to "The Ultimate Resource II".
Although Simon's arguments about the beneficial nature of population growth were not generally accepted, they contributed to a shift in opinion in the literature on
demographic economicsfrom a strongly Malthusian negative view of population growth to a more neutral view. More recent theoretical developments, based on the ideas of the demographic dividendand demographic windowhave largely superseded the older debate in which Simon was a protagonist.
Simon wrote a memoir, "A Life Against the Grain", which was published by his wife after his death.
Wagers with rivals
Paul R. Ehrlich- 1st wager
A wager between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich was made in 1980 over the
priceof metals a decadelater; Simon had been challenging environmental scientists to the bet for some time. Ehrlich, John Harteand John Holdrenselected a basket of five metals that they thought would rise in price with increasing scarcity and depletion.
Simon won the bet, with all five metals
dropping inprice. Supporters of Ehrlich's position suggest that much of this price drop came because of an oil spike driving prices up in 1980 and a recessiondriving prices down in 1990, pointing out that the price of the basket of metals actually rose from 1950 to 1975. They also suggest that Ehrlich did not consider the prices of these metals to be critical indicators, and that Ehrlich took the bet with great reluctance. On the other hand, Ehrlich selected the metals to be used himself, and at the time of the bet called it an "astonishing offer" that he was accepting "before other greedy people jump in," hardly suggesting reluctance.
The total supply in none of these metals increased during this time, but prices declined for a variety of reasons:
*The price of
tinwent down because of an increased use of aluminium, a much more abundant, useful and inexpensive material.
*Better mining technologies allowed for the discovery of vast
nickel lodes, which ended the near monopolythat was enjoyed on the market.
Tungstenfell due to the rise of the use of ceramics in cookware.
*The price of
chromiumfell due to better smelting techniques.
*The price of
copperbegan to fall due to the invention of fiber optic cable(which is derived from sand), which serves a number of the functions once reserved only for copper wire.
In all of these cases, better technology allowed for either more efficient use of existing resources, or substitution with a more abundant and less expensive resource, as Simon predicted.
Paul R. Ehrlich- proposed 2nd wager
In 1995, Simon issued a challenge for a second bet. Ehrlich declined, and proposed instead that they bet on a metric for human welfare. Ehrlich offered Simon a set of 15 metrics over 10 years, victor to be determined by scientists chosen by the president of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. There was no meeting of minds, because Simon felt that too many of the metrics measured attributes of the world not directly related to human welfare, e.g. the amount of
nitrous oxidein the atmosphere. [cite web
title=THE POPULATION EXPLOSION by Paul and Anne Ehrlich
quote=] For such indirect, supposedly bad indicators to be considered "bad", they would ultimately have to have some measurable detrimental effect on actual human welfare. Ehrlich refused to leave out measures considered by Simon to be trivial.
Simon summarized the bet with the following analogy:
"Let me characterize their [Ehrlich and Schneider's] offer as follows. I predict, and this is for real, that the average performances in the next Olympics will be better than those in the last Olympics. On average, the performances have gotten better, Olympics to Olympics, for a variety of reasons. What Ehrlich and others says is that they don't want to bet on athletic performances, they want to bet on the conditions of the track, or the weather, or the officials, or any other such indirect measure." [cite web
title=Julian Simon's Bet With Paul Ehrlich
quote=Which cites: Miele, Frank. "Living without limits: an interview with Julian Simon." Skeptic, vol. 5, no. 1, 1997, p.57.]
The same year as his second challenge to Ehrlich, Simon also began a wager with David South, professor of the
Auburn UniversitySchool of Forestry. The Simon / South wager [cite web
title=THE SIMON- SOUTH BET ON PINE SAWTIMBER
work=School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
quote=] concerned timber prices. Consistent with his
cornucopiananalysis of this issue in "The Ultimate Resource", Simon wagered that at the end of a five-year term the consumer price of pine timber would have decreased; South wagered that it would increase. Before five years had elapsed, Simon saw that market and extra-market forces were driving up the price of timber, and he paid Professor South $1,000.Fact|in USD?|date=May 2008 Simon died before the agreed-upon date of the end of the bet, by which time timber prices had risen further.
Simon's reasoning for his early exit out of the bet was due to "the far-reaching quantity and price effects of logging restrictions in the Pacific-northwest." [cite web
work=School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
quote=] He believed this counted as interference from the Canadian government, which rendered the bet worthless from the standpoint of his economic principles. Simon's bet only considered the possibility of prices being driven up by South Carolina's government; he did not believe anything worthwhile was shown when Canadian import restrictions drove the prices up.
Main Statements and Criticism
Jared Diamondin his book "Collapse". Albert Bartlettand Garrett Hardindescribe Simon as being too optimistic and some of his assumptions being not in line with natural limitations.
Quotation|"We now have in our hands—really, in our libraries—the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next seven billion years."(Simon along "The State of Humanity: Steadily Improving 1995" [cite web
title=The State of Humanity: Steadily Improving
work=Cato Policy Report
Diamond points out that a continued stable growth rate of earths population would result in extreme over population long before the suggested time limit. Regarding the attributed population predictions Simon did not specify that he was assuming a fixed growth rate as Diamond, Bartlett and Hardin have done. Simon assumed that people do not become poorer as the population expands; increasing numbers produce what they needed to support themselves, and have and will prosper while food prices sink.
Diamond referred to Simon as suggesting it would be possible to produce metals, e.g.
copperfrom other elements [Diamond bases his criticism upon the fact that the Transmutation of elements on a large scale is not currently possible. In theory, transmutation could allow humans to one day produce copper from other elements, but this would require significant breakthroughs in knowledge and technology in order to overcome the enormous barriers currently preventing this (i.e. the extremely large amounts of energy required to generate extremely small quantities)] . For Simon, human resource needs are comparably small compared to the wealth of nature. Insofar physical limitations play a minor role and shortages of raw materials tend to be local and temporary. The main scarcity pointed out by Simon ist the amount of Human brain power ("The Ultimate Resource") which allows for the perpetuation of human activities for practically unlimited time. E.g. before copper ore became scarce and prices soared due to global increasing demand for copper wires and cablings, the global data and telecommunication networks have switched to glass fiber backbone networks.
This and other quotations in Wired are supposed to be the reason for
Bjørn Lomborgs The Skeptical Environmentalist. Lomborg has stated that he began his research as an attempt to counter what he saw as Simons anti-ecological arguments but changed his mind after starting to analyze the data.
Harvard University, experimental psychology, 1953
* Approximately four graduate courses in experimental psychology, Harvard, 1953
MBA, University of Chicago, 1959
* PhD, University of Chicago, business economics, 1961
* Doctor "honoris causa",
University of Navarra, Economics, 1998
authorlink=Julian Lincoln Simon
title=The Ultimate Resource
The Ultimate Resource II" (1996), ISBN 0-691-00381-5
*"The Resourceful Earth: A Response to "Global 2000" (1984), ISBN 0-631-13467-0, Julian Simon &
Herman Kahn, eds
*"The Economic Consequences of Immigration into the United States"
*"Effort, Opportunity, and Wealth: Some Economics of the Human Spirit"
*"Good Mood: The New Psychology of Overcoming Depression" ISBN 0-8126-9098-2 (Forewords by
Albert Ellisand Kenneth Colby)
*"The Hoodwinking of a Nation" ISBN 1-56000-434-7 (hard), ISBN 1-4128-0593-7 (soft)
*"A Life Against the Grain: The Autobiography of an Unconventional Economist" ISBN 0-7658-0532-4
*"Scarcity or Abundance? A Debate on the Environment" (1994), (with
Norman Myers), ISBN 0-393-03590-5
*"The Philosophy and Practice of Resampling Statistics"
* "Basic research methods in social sciences: The art of empirical investigation", ISBN 0-394-32049-2
*"Resampling: A Better Way to Teach (and Do) Statistics" (with Peter C. Bruce)
*"The Science and Art of Thinking Well in Science, Business, the Arts, and Love"
*"Economics of Population: Key Modern Writings", ISBN 1-85278-765-1
* "The State of Humanity", ISBN 1-55786-585-X
*"It's Getting Better All the Time : 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years" by
Stephen Moore, Julian Lincoln Simon ISBN 1-882577-97-3 "manuscript finished posthumously by Stephen Moore"
* Julian L. Simon & Herman Kahn eds(1984) "The Resourceful Earth - A Response to "Global 2000" Blackwell ISBN 0-631-13467-0
* Albert A. Bartlett. [http://www.efn.org/~fodor/Resources/Bartlett-Reflections.html Reflections on Sustainability, Population Growth, and the Environment] (revised version).
Books critical of Julian Simon
*Ehrlich, Paul R. "Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future", 1996. (ISBN 1-55963-483-9)
*Grant, Lindsey. "Elephants in the Volkswagen", 1992. (ISBN 0-7167-2268-2)
*Hardin, Garrett. "The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia", 1998. (ISBN 0-19-512274-7)
* [http://www.juliansimon.org/ Writings by Julian L. Simon Available on WWW]
* [http://www.libertyindia.org/events/simon_lecture.htm Liberty Institute First Annual Julian L. Simon Memorial Lecture]
* [http://www.simonmarket.org/ The Simon Market in Science Claims]
* [http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/People/julian_simon.html Julian Simon's Bet With Paul Ehrlich]
* [http://www.forestry.auburn.edu/sfnmc/web/bet.html Julian Simon's bet with David South]
* [http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-20n2-1.html Julian Simon Remembered It's A Wonderful Life]
* [http://www.free-market.net/features/heartland/simon.html FMN and Heartland: Remembering Julian Simon]
* [http://reason.com/rb/rb082901.shtml Reason Magazine: David Foreman vs. the Cornucopians]
* [http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/05/issue/feature_earth.asp MIT Technology Review: Environmental Heresies]
* [http://www.cei.org/gencon/003,02473.cfm The Julian L. Simon Memorial Award]
* [http://www.mercatornet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=69 MercatorNet: Population]
* [http://www.mnforsustain.org/partridge_e_j_simon_and_perilous_optimism.htm Julian Simon's Perilous Optimism]
* [http://www.mnforsustain.org/catton_problem_of_denial.htm The Problem of Denial]
* [http://enough_already.tripod.com/dalysimon.htm Critique of 'The Ultimate Resource']
* [http://www.mnforsustain.org/bartlett_a_malthus_flat_earth_society.htm Albert Bartlett's critique of exponential growth]
* [http://www.sonic.net/~evolve/wp/human_ecology/human_populations_frameset.htm Human Populations, critique of Julian Simon]
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