Many on the list will be already familiar with the famous bet between Julian
Simon and Paul Ehrlich, but it seems worth mentioning in this thread(when I
first heard about it, years ago, it was a revelatory experience - and the
beginning of the end of my believing the green's lies...)
Out of laziness, rather than explaining the whole thing myself, I am posting
an extract of an article found on a site I don't know much about, but which
Julian Simon's Bet With Paul Ehrlich
By Brian Carnell
Thursday, May 18, 2000
In 1980, economist Julian Simon and biologist Paul Ehrlich decided to put
their money where their predictions were. Ehrlich had been predicting
massive shortages in various natural resources for decades, while Simon
claimed natural resources were infinite.
Simon offered Ehrlich a bet centered on the market price of metals. Ehrlich
would pick a quantity of any five metals he liked worth $1,000 in 1980. If
the 1990 value of the metals, after adjusting for inflation, was more than
$1,000 (i.e. the metals became more scarce), Ehrlich would win. If, however,
the value of the metals after inflation was less than $1,000 (i.e. the
metals became less scare), Simon would win. The loser would mail the winner
a check for the change in price.
Ehrlich agreed to the bet and chose copper, chrome, nickel, tin and
By 1990, all five metal were below their real price level in 1970. Ehrlich
lost the bet and sent Simon a check for $576.07. Prices of the metals chosen
fell so much that Simon would have won the bet even if the prices hadn't
been adjusted for inflation (Bast 1994, p.124). Here's how each of the
metals performed from 1980-1990.
Metal 1980 price (1980 $) 1990 price (1980 $) %change
Copper (195.56 lbs.) $200 $163 -18.5%
Chrome (51.28 lbs.) $200 $120 -40%
Nickel (63.52 lbs.) $200 $193 -3.5%
Tin (229.1 lbs.) $200 $56 -72%
Tungsten (13.64 lbs.) $200 $86 -57%
(Tierney 1990, p.81)
>From: Matthew Purdon <email@example.com>
>Subject: Re: RANT
>Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 07:53:43 -0800
>Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> >As someone who spent a number of years as an energy analyst, developing
> >conservation technologies, you don't know what you are talking about.
> >trend in resource cost is downward, and availability is upward. Stopy
> >the Green lies.
>Michael, I don't think I agree with availability going upward. I currently
>work for a company developing enterprise management solutions for the
>market. There has been very little increase in the amount of new power
>plants over the years. With deregulation, there isn't the state guarantees
>that once made it worth investing in energy plants. So now, we are faced
>with increasing energy usage and little increase availability. There are
>continual threats of brownouts, so utility companies are constantly buying
>energy from other parts of the grid. All we seem to be doing is figuring
>out how to distribute what energy we have to where it is needed when it is
>needed. We aren't changing our energy habits or increasing availability.
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