Re: Julian Simon, Environmental Contrarian
Tue, 4 Feb 1997 14:12:04 -0500 (EST)


>I just finished reading about the doomslayer Julian Simon in the
>February 1997 edition of Wired magazine. The article is chock full of
>non sequiturs.

Your claims are that things must be getting worse overall because they are
getting worse in one particular place. That's the non sequitur, not Simon's

>One labeled
>a Perception: Air Pollution is getting worse is not only a perception
>but a reality in areas such as Phoenix Arizona.

Yes, it's getting worse in some areas. But it's getting better in others (LA
air has improved tremendously in the 10 years I've been here. Smog is now
exceptional where I live in Orange County). Overall, it's getting better.

>Sprawl is paving over
>cropland as I have witnessed in the surrounding area of Philadelphia and
>especially in Bucks County , were New Yorkers are settling.

Yes, but new cropland is being irrigated/terraced to replace it.

>Third World food problems are a reality, take a trip to India.

Very much so, but less of a reality than at any time in the past.

>Forests are vanishing and being replaced by monoculture tree farms.

In the first world, both wild forest and tree farms are increasing.
Deforestation is still a problem in the third world (but see below)

>Fish are being
>fished out, I just think of what happened in Perce, Gaspe Peninsula were
>a few years back it was a thriving fishing village.

Deep sea fishing has become a classic 'tragedy of the commons" situation.
Our fish will come from farms in the near future, just as our vegetables do.
There will be plenty of fish.

>How does Julian
>Simon suddenly qualify as an expert on species extinctions? What are
>his credentials for asserting that only one species is going extinct
>each year?

He's not the one saying it. It's just that nobody can find many species
going extinct.

One thing you have to remember. Simon does not claim that the non-human
biosphere will do well. His claim is that our increasing population will
leave us a world where virtually all humans are well-fed, well-housed,
comfortable, entertained, and long-lived. Humans will be able to preserve
natural habitat if they want to, but whether we have mountain lion habitat,
ski resorts, or some of both will be our choice.