Re: Julian Simon, Environmental Contrarian

Guru George (
Wed, 5 Feb 1997 19:38:28 GMT

On Mon, 3 Feb 1997 22:45:22 -0500
cyberedward@ICDC.COM wrote:

>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. The illustrations on page138 of Perceptions and
>Realities present rather two sets of opposing perceptions. One labeled
>a Perception: Air Pollution is getting worse is not only a perception
>but a reality in areas such as Phoenix Arizona. 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. Third World
>food problems are a reality, take a trip to India. Forests are
>vanishing and being replaced by monoculture tree farms. 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. 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? Cyber Edward
It's hard to believe, but when you read Simon's books he really does
present his case convincingly. I am now much less gung-ho about
environmental issues than I was before I read his stuff.

Of course you are going to find places where things are bad. The
important question is, what is the *overall* situation? After all, if
you're going to be spending billions of dollars on supposedly preventative
measures, you ought to get your facts right.

And when you check out the facts, the overall situation seems to be more
like Simon says it is, rather than as we are led to believe by over-
enthusiastic, over-specialised environmentalists and the media (only bad
news is good news, right?). Perhaps he does exaggerate a bit, but maybe
that's necessary: if he is to be believed, environmentalists have been
exaggerating a lot, and getting away with it.

I am beginning to think that a sizeable chunk of environmental
propoganda is basically a kind of millenial disasterbation, arising out
of peoples' lack of self-esteem. Whipping ourselves is supposed to be
cool. I don't think it's cool anymore: in fact I think there's something
a bit nasty about it.

Guru George