Do Monarchs need Paul Cherubini?

Stan Gorodenski stanlep at
Tue Apr 23 19:45:46 EDT 2002

I find interesting the following sentence from the Stanford article and
what it implies regarding your accusations and claims:
"Coerced birth control had its day; China adopted
the one child per family policy and slaughtered a
disproportionate number of female children, as birth
control advocates stood in silent assent."

Paul Cherubini wrote:
> The one question Pat raised that I did not address was:
> > And don't you think that overpopulation, habitat degradation,
> > resource over-exploitation and biodiversity loss are serious
> > problems? If you think they are problems, why do you attack
> > the people who are trying to find solutions to the problems?
> Pat, I think the dire predictions of the CONSEQUENCES of these
> "problems" (e.g. death of the world's oceans, mass human starvation)
> have been greatly exaggerated by Stanford Professor Paul
> R. Ehrlich and his supporters.  And I think anyone - not just
> me - but anyone who tries to explain why monarch butterflies
> or the earth's ecosystems are not headed for imminent collapse
> will be subject to ridicule, insults, anonymous smear campaign
> "yellow cards" and such.
> I feel the following article published by Stanford University's
> alternative student newspaper the "Stanford Review" is right
> on the money about Ehrlich and the future of the world's food
> supply.
> "Do you have trouble confusing fact and myth? Do you have a
> penchant for spending days, months, years reaffirming what has
> been uniformly proven false? Have you ever lost money because
> of your unyielding faith in your nutty ideas? If you answered "Yes"
> to one or more of these questions, fear not! -- you'll get an A
> from at least one Stanford professor, tenured biologist Paul Ehrlich.
> Author of the best-selling Population Bomb, an intellectual spark
> for the modern ecological movement, Ehrlich has been a tenured
> faculty member on the Farm since the early sixties. While his
> early research centered on butterflies, Ehrlich reached national
> prominence for the startling ecological predictions he made in his
> 1968 Population Bomb and on a famous Tonight Show interview
>  shortly after the release of his book.
> The three-million copies of the Population Bomb that sold were
> influential in the radicalizing of conservationist organizations
> such as the Sierra Club, and in the creating new ones like
> Greenpeace. A founding father of Earth Day, in 1990 Ehrlich won
> a five-year MacArthur Foundation grant for $345,000 and shared
> half of the Crafoord Prize, the ecologist's version of the Nobel.
> Most recently, Ehrlich and his wife Anne published Betrayal of
> Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens
> our Future. This spring, he is teaching a Freshman Seminar entitled,
> "Environmental Problems and Solutions."
> So hurrah for Professor Ehrlich and hurrah for Stanford
> University. Except for one problem. Since his foray into environmental
> tomfoolery, Ehrlich's predictions have been consistently and tragically
> wrong, for four decades and counting.
> In the mid-sixties, Ehrlich began the modern ecological movement's
> resurrection of Malthusian thought. Thomas Malthus was the British
> economist who, in 1798, predicted that, because population growth
> outstrips the growth in food supply, the starvation of Great
> Britain was imminent and inevitable. Unfortunately for Malthus,
> Great Britain was still alive and well two centuries later;
> unfortunately for the world, Ehrlich made it his task to bring Malthus'
> dead wrong ideas back to life.
> After limiting his family size to one (Ehrlich had a vasectomy
> shortly after receiving tenure at Stanford -- showing once again
> that tenure does limit production), Ehrlich resolved in 1968 to
> write an environmental text that would warn the world of the
> immediate danger it faced. Ehrlich's logic was simple: a growing
> population increasingly consumes the earth's finite resources.
> This left humanity with three options: 1) stop producing, 2) stop
> consuming, or 3) die from starvation.
> His Population Bomb began, "The battle to feed all of humanity
> is over ... hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to
> death." In 1969, Ehrlich added, "By 1985 enough millions will have
> died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level,
> like 1.5 billion people." The same year, he predicted in an article
> entitled "Eco-Catastrophe!" that by 1980 the United States
> would see its life expectancy drop to 42 because of pesticides,
> and by 1999 its population would drop to 22.6 million. In the
> mid-seventies, with the release of his The End of Affluence, Ehrlich
> incorporated drama into his dire prophesies. He envisioned the
> President dissolving Congress "during the food riots of the
> 1980s," followed by the United States suffering a nuclear
> attack for its mass use of insecticides. That's right, Ehrlich
> thought that the United States would get nuked in retaliation
> for killing bugs.
> As good as they were for the rest of us, the 1980s weren't so
> kind to Prof. Ehrlich. There were no food riots of 1980, Congress
> stayed in session (though perhaps Reagan should have taken a
> hint from Ehrlich when the Senate started wondering why we
> didn't send the Girl Scouts to deal with the Sandinistas), and in
> general Americans got richer, fatter, and more numerous. As did
> the rest of the world. According to the Food and Agriculture, the
> Third World now consumes 27 percent more calories per person
> per day than it did in 1963. India is now exporting food, and deaths
> from famine, starvation, and malnutrition are fewer than ever
> before.
> Despite the increase in population and consumption, there is no
> sight of the shortages that Ehrlich predicted. Since 1980, The
> Economist reports, the world food commodity index has fallen
> 50 percent. If there were no food left, it would make little
> sense for farmers to lower the price on what little remains.
> During the 1980s thirty-three of thirty-five common minerals
> fell in price. In 1990, unexploited reserves of oil amounted to
> 900 billion barrels, 350 billion more than the total oil reserves
> of the 1970s, when Paul Ehrlich asked poignantly, "What will we
> do when the pumps run dry?"
> For those wondering why things are so good when they should
> be so bad, the answer is not Al Gore. Rather, we're richer,
> fatter, and more populous because technology -- the gift of
> free minds -- has again advanced us. When scarcity rears its
> angry head, historically it's been techies (the types that consider
> the "outdoors" to be the parking lot outside the lab) that have
> kept humanity afloat, and not academic doomsayers or pretentious
> tie-dyed greens. The Iron Age began after wars in the eastern
> Mediterranean caused tin shortages; the age of coal
> resulted from timber shortages in 16th century Britain; the
> 1850s shortage of whale oil translated into the first oil well
> in 1859; as pessimists began worrying about the copper
> shortage that telephone wiring would cause, fiber optic
> communication emerged.
> This was at least the theory of a lone American economist,
> Julian Simon. And after a decade of being attacked or ignored
> by Ehrlich, Simon resolved to show Ehrlich what a joke the
> doomsayers were. The two never debated (Ehrlich refused,
> calling Simon a "fringe character"), rather he put his money
> were his mouth was. In 1980, when Ehrlich was still predicting
> imminent scarcity, Simon set up a bet wherein he would sell
> Ehrlich $1,000 dollars worth of any five commodities that
> Ehrlich chose. Ehrlich would hold the commodities for ten
> years. If the prices rose -- meaning scarcity -- Simon would
> buy the commodities back from Ehrlich at the higher price.
> If the prices fell, Ehrlich would pay Simon the difference.
> Professor Ehrlich jumped at the bet, noting that he wanted
> to "accept the offer before other greedy people jumped
> in."
> In October of 1990, Ehrlich mailed Simon a check for $570.07.
> As Simon predicted, free markets provided lower prices and
> more options. Simon would have won even if prices weren't
> adjusted for inflation. He then offered to raise the wager to
> $20,000 and use any resources at any time that Ehrlich
> preferred. The Stanford professor was slightly less bold
> this time. He refused Simon's offers, mailing him only a
> check and a table of his calculations, with no note attached.
> No longer was the bet Ehrlich's way of saving Simon from
> greedy speculators. Looking back, Ehrlich claimed that he
> was "goaded into making a bet with Simon on a matter of
> marginal environmental importance."
> Like any good loser, the Stanford biologist has yet to
> acknowledge any fault in his career of failed predictions,
> and frankly, The Review is not holding its breath, expecting Ehrlich
> to take a trip to Damascus. To some there seems little relevance
> to focus on a scientist whose predictions were never realized.
> History is already in the course of forgetting Professor Ehrlich.
> Fortune magazine recently listed Simon among "the world's most
> stimulating thinkers." Ehrlich's name didn't appear. But before
> we forget Professor Ehrlich, we must remember the influence
> his ideas have had on the world. Ehrlich has suggested that
> governments should consider using coercion to limit family size
> and that the United States should end food aid for countries
> that refuse population control. His fellow eco-nut Garrett
> Hardin said bluntly the"freedom to breed is intolerable."
> Coerced birth control had its day; China adopted the one child per
> family policy and slaughtered a disproportionate number of female
> children, as birth control advocates stood in silent assent. The
> Third World has grown healthier, richer, and more populous as
> Mr. Ehrlich"s predictions have failed. But if Professor Ehrlich's
> ideas were left unchecked, we would have scores of nations that
> would have not been allowed to enjoy the same material progress
> we have enjoyed. Often it's difficult to miss in the rhetoric of
> population controllers like Professor Ehrlich a message that
> endorses a world in which there are more of us -- clean,
> earth-conscious First Worlders -- than them -- the
> rest of the world. It's tragic to think of a world in which a
> mother in Zaire is told what her family must look like, while
> Paul Ehrlich lives well in Palo Alto."
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