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The Population Bomb Fizzle

Thursday, October 6, 2016 4:39
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Recently US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopped on the nanny state bandwagon chiding Americans about wasting food, claiming a need to increase food production by 50-70% in the next 35 years to meet feed rising world population.

But the first step, and the one way the USDA can provide help and assistance to meet this need, is to expand on the — on the issue of food waste,” Vilsack said. “A third of the food that we grow, raise and produce in this country is never consumed the way it was intended. It’s wasted.

In my mind I immediately translated Vilsack’s comments to mean that the USDA would be nudging Americans to stop wasting food through more regulations so that we could continue on with our duty to feed the world.

This is farcical coming from a USDA that seems to delight in attacking American local food self sufficiency. Farmer’s Market Raid Gillette WY

Federal agents have raided a farmers’ market in Gillette, Wyoming, ordering one seller to destroy his homemade chili or have it confiscated, even though the product was fully legal under a state law that has been described as an economy-boosting “giant cottage foods bill.”

In the raid the USDA agents tried (and failed) to prevent filming their actions, and the chili vendor, after throwing out his chili so as to keep his jars, was written up by the agents and asked to sign a waiver admitting guilt. He refused. The agents then refused to give him a copy of his citation. USDA Agents at Gillette Farmer’s Market

Anyway, Vilsack’s comments reminded me of Paul Ehrlick’s 1968 best seller, The Population Bomb, wherein Ehrlick claimed the world was doomed as its population exploded and food resources couldn’t keep pace. Ehrlick was, however, so far off the mark in his predictions, that the NY Times, of all entities, printed an article highlighting Ehrlick’s failings.

Dr. Ehrlich’s opening statement was the verbal equivalent of a punch to the gut: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.” He later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.” Dr. Ehrlich was so sure of himself that he warned in 1970 that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come.” By “the end,” he meant “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

As you may have noticed, England is still with us. So is India. Hundreds of millions did not die of starvation in the ’70s. Humanity has managed to hang on, even though the planet’s population now exceeds seven billion, double what it was when “The Population Bomb” became a best-seller and its author a frequent guest of Johnny Carson’s on “The Tonight Show.” NYT The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion

Now, given that even the useless grey lady realizes that apocalyptic fears of population explosion are so much BS, it is odd to see the USDA head hitching his latest nannyism to that dead horse. Chock that up, I suppose, to progressives’ natural arrogance; an arrogance that Ehrlick shares in spades. In the NYT’s article Ehrlick asserts: that for an ecologist, disaster timetables are insignificant because they mean something “very, very different” from what they do to the average person; that the end is still nigh; and that population control is still required – preferably voluntary, but by coercion if necessary.

Coercion – of course. Perfectly acceptable.

The Federalist has some thoughts on the NYT’s article. And while pleased and surprised to see such article in the Times, they wondered how long it takes to acknowledge that an idea, such as Ehrlick’s, is wrong, as nearly 50 years, based on Ehrlick’s attitude, seems not enough.

Most remarkable, however, is Ehrlich’s answer. Yes, he’s still around, the Times interviewed him, and they asked him that question. I got the impression it may have been the first time someone prominent has asked Ehrlich to answer this directly, and his guard seems to have been down, probably because he remembers all the puffball coverage he’s gotten from the New York Times over the years. So he answered it, and it has to be heard to be believed. He said: “One of the things that people don’t understand is that timing, to an ecologist, is very, very different from timing to an average person.” I wonder, is BS still the same for an ecologist as it is for an average person?

It is such an obviously arrogant, dishonest, evasive answer that the Times report features it prominently, and not in a positive way. They captured in one line the sudden realization that Ehrlich is a charlatan who has been conning the highest levels of the culture for years. What the New York Times Didn’t Learn from Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb Fizzle

Not everyone thought Ehrlick a prophet. To some he was anything but. Leading among them, as disparaged by the Times as “preternaturally optimistic”, was a economist named Julian L. Simon.

Among them was Julian L. Simon, an economist who established himself as the anti-Ehrlich, arguing that “humanity’s condition will improve in just about every material way.” In 1997, a year before he died, Mr. Simon told Wired magazine that “whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.”

Opposition among theorists is common. But in the case of Ehrlick and Simon, it went a bit further. The two had a bet that from 1980 to 1990, as population exploded and commodities became more scarce, the future price of a subset of metals would rise. Ehrlick lost.


The Federalist goes on to make a very important point about progressives in the context of population control, namely the principle that; in order to deal inhumanely with people, you must first dehumanize them. History is replete with examples of this tactic; Hitler’s demonization of Jews being but one.

In the Times’ article Ehrlick follows this principle in the context of population control by casting children, and by extension women, as lesser beings, saying that letting women have as many babies as they want is akin to letting everyone “throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.” And so The Federalist asks a good question:

[A]re human beings any good? Is a new person just another mouth to feed—or does he have the potential to become someone who discovers how to feed the world? Do more humans just cause more problems—or do we solve them? Do we only destroy, or do we create? Are human beings good, and if so, shouldn’t we want more of them?

Ehrlick and his ilk say no, humans are not good, nor desired. This no is echoed in today’s Demoncrat Party and those supporting it such as Obama, Hillary, Planned Parenthood and Soros. Ehrlick is wrong. The Demoncrat Party and its supporters are wrong. Progressives are wrong. They are, in part, the modern face of evil.

Julian Simon had his own answer to the those who say no. It is a fine answer, and one perfectly suited to a “preternaturally optimistic” man.

[Simon] answered Ehrlich’s great flimflam with his own identification of a great truth. Simon explained that the reason the overpopulation catastrophe never materialized was because human beings create more resources than they use up. The “ultimate resource,” Simon argued, is human thought and ingenuity which is constantly discovering untapped resources and inventing new ways to use them.


Amen Mr. Simon. Amen.


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