Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why Paul Ehrlich's Unsustainable Bet Still Matters

John P Holdren, the lesser known participant in the Julian Simon-Paul Ehrlich bet, has been appointed Science Advisor to Obama's Administration. As John Tierney points out on what the bet matters (NYT):

[The bet] was about a fundamental view of how adaptable and innovative humans are, and whether a rich modern society is “sustainable.” Dr. Holdren and his collaborator, Paul Ehrlich, were the pessimists.
The world's problems will be dealt with in two ways:
  1. With a raft of regulations to restrain behaviour, by so doing, doubting the the ability of humanity to adapt and assuming humanity to be limited to the imaginations of regulators or,
  2. Ensuring incentives exist that allow society to adapt and innovate as they have since the dawn of time.
Dr. Holdren's past choices and published views leave little doubt of how he views the world. Despite Obama's his otherwise moderate appointments in key areas of Defense and Treasury thus far, appointments like these make me think that Holman Jenkins' predictions will hold true: Get ready for a Lost Decade (WSJ).

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