Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Simon-Ehrlich Wager: where theory meets reality

Green fever has been endemic for years. In 1980, Julian L. Simon and Paul Ehrlich "bet on a mutually agreed upon measure of resource scarcity over the decade leading up to 1990."

Ehrlich --author of the then-popular book,
The Population Bomb -- was the Malthusian predicting "that mankind was facing a demographic catastrophe with the rate of population growth quickly outstripping growth in the supply of food and resources." Simon, a libertarian economist, was the reasoned thinker who doubted such claims.

The wager was whether the price of five metals would rise or fall over a 10-year period. Ehrlich picked the metals of his choice: copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten. "Simon bet that their prices would go down. Ehrlich bet they would go up."

So, they bet. And, can you guess who won? Simon, of course.

Did the result discredit Ehrlich and the doomsayers? Not in the least. In fact, Gore just received a Nobel award for another anti-human prediction: human-induced climate change (or anthropogenic global warming).

The difference is that Gore is wagering our lives and our liberties. The wager that Gore and the Greens are making is already costing millions of times more than the final settlement between Simon and Ehrlich: a mere $576.07.

In the end, green fever is simply red fever for some, and power fever for others. And, it's a fatal illness for the rest of us.

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