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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:40 p


Introduction to Economics

Free Market

By Prateek Agarwal

Last updated Jun 27, 2019

A free market economy is a type of economy that promotes the production and sale of goods and services, with little to no control or involvement from any central government agency.

In a free market economy, firms and households act in self-interest to determine how resources get allocated, what goods get produced, and who buys the goods.

A free market economy is opposite to how a command economy works, where the central government gets to keep the profits.

Advantages Of A Free Market

1. Consumer Sovereignty

In a free market, producers produce what consumers want at a reasonable price.

It gives the consumer more choice for their purchases.

2. Absence of Bureaucracy

Free markets reduce cost, lead to more innovation and research & development through the absence of red tape.

Entrepreneurs don’t have to wait for the government to tell them what to make.

They study demand, research trends, and meet the customer’s needs through innovation.

This independence also encourages competition amongst firms to improve their product and service.

3. Motivational Influence of Free Enterprise

Guided by the invisible hand, entrepreneurs take a risk to fulfill consumer demand.

Those entrepreneurs who succeed are rewarded with profits.

(The invisible hand is an economic concept where market demand act as signals for producers, i.e., because consumers want and are willing to pay for bread, a baker has the incentive to produce bread).

4. Optimum Allocation of Resources

Resources in the market are better distributed and allocated.

Since consumers are willing to pay for a certain quantity of a product, producers are willing to pay to acquire raw materials.

Otherwise, producers produce too much of a good that no one wants.

It also encourages firms to be more efficient as they seek to produce at the lowest price possible to maximize their profit.

Disadvantages Of A Free Market

These are four disadvantages of a free market economy.

1. Poor Quality

Since profit maximization is the biggest motivation for firms, they may try to reduce their costs unethically by polluting the environment or by exploiting workers.

2. Merit Goods

Goods and services that are not profitable will not be produced/run.

Rural communities will suffer as a result, e.g., regarding transport and post.

For example, rural hospitals may not be profitable to run but are necessary.

3. Firm Power

Large firms can still dominate certain markets, even where there is competition, and exploit suppliers (by squeezing their prices down) and consumers (by charging higher selling prices) to maximize profits.

For example, Amazon has done this in the book industry by dictating unfair terms to publishers.

4. Unemployment

Certain members of society will not be able to work with the elderly or the unemployed (because their skills aren’t marketable).

They will be left and will fall into poverty (remember if there is no government, they cannot be helped).

The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism

Simon, Julian (1932-1998)

Julian Simon was one of the most underappreciated economists of the 20th century.

Born in New Jersey, Simon earned his BA in experimental psychology from Harvard University and, in 1961, his PhD from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.

He died on February 8, 1998.

Although Simon wrote on an unusually wide range of topics — including statistical methods and mental depression — Simon’s greatest contribution to economics is his refinement of the idea that humans are “the ultimate resource.”

Simon argued there are no resources without human creativity to figure out how to use them and human effort to actually do so.

Petroleum, for example, is certainly not, by its nature, a resource.

If it were, Native Americans would long ago have put it to good use.

But they did not.

Petroleum did not become a resource until creative people determined how it could be used to satisfy some human desires and other people determined how it could be cost-effectively extracted from the ground.

An implication of this realization, that humans are “the ultimate resource,” leads to the conclusion that a high and growing population — at least in societies with sufficient freedom to allow individuals to experiment and create — is desirable.

Simon, of course, understood that human beings, unlike tungsten and petroleum, also consume goods and services.

The question thus arises in free societies whether greater numbers of human beings produce more than they consume or whether their consumption outruns their production.

Most people simply assume that humans are net consumers — an assumption that explains the common hysteria over immigration and population growth that has seized so many people.

But Simon, having carefully analyzed the data, found that growing human populations in free societies produce net increases in resource supplies.

His books presenting much of these data are The Ultimate Resource (1981), The Ultimate Resource 2 (1996), The State of Humanity (1995), and Population Matters (1990).

Population researcher Paul Ehrlich found Simon’s optimism about population growth to be so absurd that he famously accepted a bet offered by Simon in 1980.

Ehrlich had authored The Population Bomb, a book foretelling disaster from population growth.

The essence of Simon’s position in the bet was that, despite the population growth that was sure to occur during the 1980s, the effective supply of natural resources would increase during this decade because human beings would figure out how to find, extract, and use resources more efficiently.

The surest measure of this increased supply would be lower inflation-adjusted resource prices.

Convinced that higher population would prove a curse, Ehrlich accepted the $1,000 bet.

He chose a bundle of copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten and bet Simon that the real price of this bundle of resources would be higher in 1990 than in 1980.

The prices of September 1990 were compared to those of September 1980, and Simon won convincingly.

The real price of each of these five resources fell over the course of that decade, indicating that their supplies grew despite — or because of — growing human population.

Julian Simon’s legacy is profound.

Free people are net producers — they are “the ultimate resource.”

Thus, controls on production, creativity, and industry designed to “conserve” resources are likely to have the opposite effect in the long term.

Simon’s work demonstrates that those people who value continued abundance for future generations should support the free market, which rewards both efficiency and creativity in developing new resources.

Further Readings

Simon, Julian. The State of Humanity. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1996.

———. The Ultimate Resource. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.

———. The Ultimate Resource 2. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

by Donald J. Boudreaux

Originally published August 15, 2008.

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:40 p

THE CAPE CHARLES MIRROR September 2, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Paul Plante says:

And while we are on the subject of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish “activist” who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year, and who is now the star of her own movie filmed aboard her high-tech racing yacht Malizia II largely made of lightweight, high strength, CARBON FIBER material for a bit of necessary surrealism there, as she crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Sweden to New York City to “communicate the science,” an absurd concept in and of itself, given that true “science” is available and accessible to anyone and everyone who bothers to pull their heads out of their ***** to learn something about what they are a part of, so as to be better able to adapt to changing times, because the world is dynamic, not static, so that it does not require a 16-year old girl from Sweden to “communicate” it as if we were all morons waiting for here to enlighten us, let's go to a MARKETWATCH article entitled “Students around the world skip class to organize climate change protests” by Associated Press published March 15, 2019, where we have as follows from Greta, who appears to have some very serious psychological issues, as follows:

Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was cheered for her blunt message at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this year, when she told government and business leaders: “I want you to panic.”

“I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.”

end quotes

And there is where it all goes south for me in a hurry with respect to Greta Thunberg, this weird concept that because she feels fear everyday, which is a sign she is suffering some mental derangement that can hopefully be cured with counseling and therapy as opposed to drugs, I and every other adult are supposed to “panic.”

I don’t know about anybody else out there, but I don’t do panic on demand because some 16-year old girl from Sweden feels fear every day, and I am surprised one that a 16 year-old girl in Sweden, an advanced nation, would have anything to feel fear about on a daily basis, and two, that a 16-year old girl would be ignorant enough to think that we should all feel panic because she is afraid.

If she feels fear everyday, and as a result, she wants us all to panic, i.e. feel sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety accompanied by wildly unthinking behavior, with such synonyms as alarm, anxiety, nervousness, fear, fright, trepidation, dread, terror, horror, agitation, consternation, perturbation, dismay, disquiet, apprehension, apprehensiveness, then what she is communicating is not science, but plain old garden-variety hysteria, instead.

And as an adult who is a grandfather, I fail to see any benefit to anyone accruing from all the adults in America panicking because Greta Thunberg of Sweden feels irrational fear everyday that the world is going to end in ten years unless we all stop using carbon, immediately, including Greta Thunberg, and on that note, for all the children out there who want their parents to show their love to them by going totally carbon-free, simply throw away their car keys and go down to the basement and find the breaker box and throw the main switch to turn off all the power coming into the house, and if you use gas for heat and cooking, then shut it off where it enters the house, and if you have a gas grill, turn that off, as well, and that should be a good start, anyway.

And if you wonder then how you will eat and stay warm, ask Greta the science-communicator with all the answers, because I haven’t a clue!

http://www.capecharlesmirror.com/news/t ... ent-172651

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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:40 p

ABC News

"Hurricane Dorian kills at least 5 in the Bahamas; US coastline braces for impact"


Hurricane Dorian, a Category 3, was at a virtual standstill over the Bahamas early Tuesday, where at least five people died on the Abaco Islands because of the powerful storm.

The "destructive" Dorian is "unprecedented and extensive," Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said on Monday.

Homes and businesses are completely destroyed and the country is inundated with an extraordinary amount of flooding, he added.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are bracing for a similar fate as the monster storm next targets the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

'I don't think I've ever been afraid before like this'

Residents of the Bahamas who rode out Hurricane Dorian as a Category 5 storm described buzz-saw-like winds that splintered homes, flooded streets and left them terrified for their lives.

"There's houses that are torn apart."

"There's tree limbs in the road."

"There's no green shrubbery left."

"It's just shredded," Bruce Sawyer, a resident of the hard-hit Abaco Islands told ABC's "Good Morning America" after enduring a night of abject uncertainty and fear.

Dorian made landfall Sunday afternoon at Elbow Cay of the Abaco Islands as the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record, and witnesses like Sawyer, who have chosen to shelter in place for other major hurricanes, said they've never seen anything like it.

"I think when the eye wall hit, we had 200-plus mile per hour winds that ripped everybody's roofs and destroyed everybody's structure and houses," Sawyer told ABC News.

"Probably one of the most terrifying things that ever happened."

"The windows were caving."

"The doors were caving in."

"I honestly thought that our roof was going to be ripped off as well."

ABC News correspondent Marcus Moore and his news crew hunkered down in a hotel in the Abaco Islands -- and by Monday morning, he said their hotel appeared to be the only structure still standing in the immediate area.

"It really is a catastrophe here."

"And riding through this Category 5 hurricane was something I have never done before."

"I’ve covered many hurricanes but none like this one -- we’re talking about land speeds of 180 mph-plus and then 200 mph wind gusts," Moore said.

"The feeling really moves you."

"As the winds were blowing, our ears were popping."

"You could hear the wind, you could hear bits and pieces of debris and large objects hitting the building, including a boat," Moore said.

"A yacht hit our building and right now is resting up against the three-story condo complex where we have been staying."

Moore said he could also hear people screaming through the night.

Kim Mullins, a resident of Grand Bahama Island, told "GMA" she lived through Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

But she said Hurricane Dorian is the most menacing beast yet.

"The winds, they sound crazy."

"It literally feels as though something is about to happen even though my house is secure," Mullins said.

"I don't think I've ever been afraid before like this."

"It's extremely dangerous, I’ve never seen anything like this before in my entire life," said Iram Lewis, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Public Works.

"Thank God I'm on high ground with my family, but there are persons out there in distress."

"I wish I was able to help them...I'm hoping that this weather will break soon and that as soon as possible the rescue teams can get on the road and help."

On Monday, Prime Minister Minnis said the government "will bring to bear every resource possible and all of our collective energy to assist those in the devastated and affected areas."

'Get out now while you have time'

As Dorian pummels the Bahamas, it's also slowly inching closer to Florida.

The latest path shows Dorian moving dangerously close to Florida's east coast Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, likely as a Category 3 hurricane.

The storm was downgraded to a Category 3, with winds of 125 mph, at 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

Floridians are bracing for impact, stocking up on water and grabbing plywood to board up their homes.

Richard Stern, owner of a Ben & Jerry's store in Delray Beach, Florida, spent Sunday boarding up windows and safely storing the ice cream.

"It's a very dangerous storm."

"And a lot of people don't realize that even if it doesn't hit us directly, the winds and the rain are gonna be devastating."

"Especially with storm surge, we're right off the beach," Stern told ABC News.

"We've been through so many of them you kind of know what you need to do," Stern said.

"The thing we have no control over is the size and strength of the storm..."

"We're gonna do everything we can, and hope and pray that is gonna be enough."

"Our east coast is certainly within the cone still and people need to remain vigilant," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Monday.

"Get out now while you have time."

The governor said mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for coastal communities from Palm Beach County to Nassau County near the Georgia border, a distance of 361 miles.

"If you're ordered to evacuate, you need to do that," he said.

"Get out now while you have time."

The governor said 72 nursing homes and assisted living centers along the coast have been evacuated and some Florida hospitals were following suit.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Palm Beach International Airport and Orlando Melbourne International Airport have already shut down as the storm moves in.

The U.S. Postal Service shut down operations at its West Palm Beach plant Sunday night while Amtrak temporarily suspended service in Florida through Tuesday.

Regardless of landfall, wind gusts of up to 80 mph and storm surge will be the biggest threats for the eastern coast of Florida over the next few days.

From Florida, Dorian is forecast to turn north toward Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Coastal Georgia communities are under mandatory evacuation orders as Dorian may bring 4 to 6 inches of rain, up to 7 feet of storm surge and dangerous flash flooding.

"Please don't take this risk -- if you're able to evacuate please do so," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday.

Dorian is expected to be a Category 2 when it nears the Carolinas.

South Carolina's governor issued an evacuation order for the state's coastal residents.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued Monday for North Carolina's Outer Banks as well.

The heaviest rainfall from Dorian is expected to hit the North Carolina coast, where up to 10 inches of rain is possible.

"We have to respect the threat that Dorian brings," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday.

"Time is running out to get ready."

Pete Gaynor, acting administrator of FEMA, said his greatest concern was storm surge.

"It's water flooding that causes the most death in natural disasters; 90% of all deaths from natural disasters are caused from flooding, storm surge, inland flooding," Gaynor said.

"What we really want to get across this morning is that time is running out to make preparations."

"The unpredictability, the uncertainty of where Dorian will go is something that we're all anxious to find out, but you have to be prepared for any scenario," he said.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topsto ... 7Kz#page=2

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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:40 p


The Danger and Fraud of Eco-Pessimism

By Wayne Creed

Almost everything we read about the environment now is ignoring the poor track record of eco-pessimists – this should produce some skepticism about global warming claims today.

The reality is, it’s hard to find actual data – and not models that show either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm.

We need not fear the climate, only fear itself.

http://www.capecharlesmirror.com/news/t ... pessimism/
ABC News

"Hurricane Dorian latest: Storm to move 'dangerously close' to Florida coast"


Hurricane Dorian, after wreaking havoc over the Bahamas for nearly 45 hours, is picking up speed Tuesday morning and forecasters say the deadly storm will soon move "dangerously close" to Florida.

Dorian, now a Category 2, is expected to approach the eastern coastline of Florida Tuesday night through Wednesday evening, before targeting Georgia and the Carolinas.

'A historic tragedy'

The monstrous hurricane has been blamed for the deaths of at least five people on the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas, where it barreled to shore Sunday afternoon as a Category 5, the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record.

Dorian then came to a grinding halt on Monday morning and remained at a virtual standstill over Grand Bahama, pummeling the island with howling winds and fierce rain.

"Nearly everything is gone" in Marsh Harbour, a town in the Abaco Islands, and the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport is completely submerged, Bahamas Foreign Minister Darren Henfield reported, according to a U.S .State Department official.

"I have never seen destruction like this on this scale on an island before," ABC News correspondent Marcus Moore told "Good Morning America" Tuesday from Marsh Harbour.

Meanwhile, there are reports of heavy flooding in Freeport, the main city on Grand Bahama, where Grand Bahama International Airport and the city's one-story hospital are inundated with water and the main highway has turned into a river, leaving some people trapped, according to the State Department official.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has described the devastation as "unprecedented and extensive."

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas," Minnis told reporters Monday.

"It's dark, communication is down, we do not know what’s going on right now," Iram Lewis, a member of Parliament in the Bahamas, told "GMA" Tuesday.

"Never seen anything like this in my life."

"We're gonna need living arrangements, we're actually going to need medical supplies -- our only hospital on the Bahamas, the 911 hospital, we had to evacuate that," Lewis said, adding that he was "praying that once it breaks we can get out there and do a proper assessment, rescue whoever is still out there."

He added, "You can feel the power of the storm when you stare into its eye from above."

"Stay safe everyone!"

The U.S. is providing humanitarian assistance to the Bahamas, beginning with the deployment of a Disaster Assistance Response Team, according to the State Department.

The Coast Guard said helicopter crews medevaced 19 people from the Marsh Harbour Clinic to the Nassau International Airport on Monday.

'Time is running out to make preparations'

Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 2, is forecast to slowly move north Tuesday, coming "dangerously close" to Florida's east coast Tuesday night through Wednesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"The projected path takes the core of the strongest winds, rain and waves just east of Florida," ABC News senior meteorologist Max Golembo said.

"Any movement to the west will bring the worst of the storm closer or even possibly on shore to Florida."

University of Florida canceled classes for Tuesday and Wednesday and many Florida airports are shuttered as the storm moves in.

Dorian will then be close to the Georgia and South Carolina shorelines Wednesday night into Thursday, before moving near or over North Carolina's coast Thursday night.

On this current forecast track, the worst of the storm will stay out to sea, but gusty winds and storm surge will remain a threat to the Southeast coast.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to hit the coastal Carolinas, where up to 15 inches of rain is possible.

Dorian is expected to weaken as it nears Wilmington, North Carolina, and could potentially make landfall Thursday night on the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of the Tar Heel State.

Evacuation orders have been issued for dozens of coastal communities from Florida to North Carolina.

"If you're ordered to evacuate, you need to do that," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.

"Get out now while you have time."

As Charleston resident Tina White stocked up on sand bags Monday, she told ABC News she's not planning to evacuate.

She called Hurricane Hugo in 1989 "the benchmark."

"As long as it doesn't look like it's gonna be Hugo, we try not to go anywhere," White said.

"But if it does, we will go."

"It's kind of stressful deciding whether to stay or to go, and once you kind of make the decision to say you can kind of focus on getting everything ready, and that provides some relief," White said.

"Then you just kind of wait and hope for the best."

Pete Gaynor, acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told ABC News that his greatest concern was flooding and storm surge, which he said are responsible for 90% of all deaths from natural disasters.

Storm surge is forecast to reach 7 feet in Jacksonville, Georgia and the Carolinas.

"Time is running out to make preparations," Gaynor said Monday on "GMA."

"The unpredictability, the uncertainty of where Dorian will go is something that we're all anxious to find out," he added, "but you have to be prepared for any scenario."

ABC News' Alexandra Faul, Max Golembo, Melissa Griffin, Joshua Hoyos, Reed McDonough, Marcus Moore, Luis Martinez, Will Gretsky and Daniel Peck contributed to this report.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topsto ... 7Kz#page=2

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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:40 p

THE CAPE CHARLES MIRROR August 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

Paul Plante says :

* Julian Lincoln Simon, an American professor of business administration at the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Cato who served as a longtime economics and business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is dead and has been dead for 20 years;

* Julian Lincoln Simon was not an engineer, nor was he a scientist, nor did he have any technical or scientific training that would qualify him as any kind of expert on weather and climate;

* Julian Lincoln Simon wrote books and articles, mostly on economic subjects, not on climate or weather;

* Julian Lincoln Simon is best known for his work on population, natural resources, and immigration, not on climate or weather;

* Julian Lincoln Simon suffered for a long time from depression, which allowed him to work only a few productive hours in a day, which would severely limit his personal studies of climate and weather, which there is no evidence he ever conducted in the first place;

* Simon’s 1981 book The Ultimate Resource was a criticism of what was then the conventional wisdom on resource scarcity, not climate or weather;

* His 1984 book The Resourceful Earth was a criticism of the conventional wisdom on population growth and resource consumption, with nothing to do with climate or weather;

* Twenty-five (25) years ago, Simon was skeptical, in 1994, of claims that human activity caused global environmental damage, notably in relation to CFCs, ozone depletion and climate change, although he never produced a lick of evidence to support his skepticism;

* Simon dismissed concerns about lead pollution & IQ, (think Flint and Newark), DDT, PCBs, malathion, Agent Orange, asbestos, and the chemical contamination at Love Canal as mere “value judgement,” which makes him out to be either a sociopath or psychopath.

ERGO, the writings and maunderings of the long dead Julian Simon DO NOT support the conclusion in the OP that “We need not fear the climate, only fear itself.”

http://www.capecharlesmirror.com/news/t ... ent-170879

"The Doomslayer"

Author: Ed Regis

02.01.97 04:20 pm

This is the litany : Our resources are running out.

The air is bad, the water worse.

The planet's species are dying off - more exactly, we're killing them - at the staggering rate of 100,000 per year, a figure that works out to almost 2,000 species per week, 300 per day, 10 per hour, another dead species every six minutes.

We're trashing the planet, washing away the topsoil, paving over our farmlands, systematically deforesting our wildernesses, decimating the biota, and ultimately killing ourselves.

The world is getting progressively poorer, and it's all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation.

There's a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we're fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity.

The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we're living on borrowed time.

The laws of population growth are inexorable.

Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death.

Time is short, and we have to act now.

That's the standard and canonical litany.

It's been drilled into our heads so far and so forcefully that to hear it yet once more is ... well, it's almost reassuring.

It's comforting, oddly consoling - at least we're face to face with the enemies: consumption, population, mindless growth.

And we know the solution: cut back, contract, make do with less.

"Live simply so that others may simply live."

There's just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false.


At variance with the truth.

Not the way it is, folks.

Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state university.

Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition circa 1997.

"Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way," he says.

"Just about every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world."

"Raw materials - all of them - have become less scarce rather than more."

"The air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe."

"Water cleanliness has improved."

"The environment is increasingly healthy, with every prospect that this trend will continue."

"Fear is rampant about rapid rates of species extinction," he continues, "but the fear has little or no basis."

"The highest rate of observed extinction, though certainly more have gone extinct unobserved, is one species per year ..."

(One species per year!)

"... in contrast to the 40,000 per year that some ecologists have been forecasting for the year 2000.

"The scare that farmlands are blowing and washing away is a fraud upon the public."

"The aggregate data on the condition of farmland and the rate of erosion do not support the concern about soil erosion."

"The data suggest that the condition of cropland has been improving rather than worsening."

As for global deforestation, "the world is not being deforested; it is being reforested in general."

Still, there is one resource that the world does not have enough of, that's actually getting rarer, according to Julian Simon.

That resource: people.

"People are becoming more scarce," he says, "even though there are more of us."


Simon started off as a card-carrying antigrowth, antipopulation zealot.

He'd been won over by the conventional reasoning; he regarded the central argument as absolutely persuasive.

And indeed, if we rehearse it now, it sounds like a faultless proof, clear and compelling, even watertight.

The classical case against population growth was expressed in 1798 by Thomas Malthus, the British economist and country parson who wrote in An Essay on the Principle of Population: "Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio."

"Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio."

"A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second."

As a point of abstract mathematics, there is no way around the conclusion that a geometric progression, if carried on far enough, will eventually overtake an arithmetic progression, no matter what.

If population increases geometrically while "subsistence," or food, increases arithmetically, then sooner or later the population will run out of food.

End of story.

Or so it would appear, except for the following embarrassing fact: "Population has never increased geometrically," says Simon.

"It increases at all kinds of different rates historically, but however fast it increases, food increases at least as fast, if not faster."

"In other words, whatever the rate of population growth is, the food supply increases at an even faster rate."

These, he says, are the actual and empirical facts of the matter, information available to any inquirer.

Simon first got a taste of those facts while studying the data amassed by the economic demographer Simon Kuznets (winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in economics) and by economist Richard Easterlin, in the mid-1960s.

Kuznets had followed population growth trends that went back 100 years and compared them against standard of living, while Easterlin analyzed the same data for selected countries since World War II.

The studies showed that while population growth rates varied from country to country and from year to year, there was no general negative correlation with living standards.

People did not become poorer as the population expanded; rather, as their numbers multiplied, they produced what they needed to support themselves, and they prospered.

The trends were the same for food supply.

Rising population did not mean less food, just the opposite: instead of skyrocketing as predicted by the Malthusian theory, food prices, relative to wages, had declined historically. In the United States, for example, between 1800 and 1980, the price of wheat plummeted while the population grew from 5 million to 226 million.

According to Malthus, all those people should have been long dead, the country reduced to a handful of fur trappers on the brink of starvation.

In fact, there was a booming and flourishing populace, one that was better-fed, taller, healthier, more disease-free, with far less infant mortality and longer life expectancy than ever before in human history.

Obesity, not starvation, was the major American food problem in 1980.

Those were the facts.

Nor should they have come as any great surprise, once you gave the matter some thought.

Plants and animals used for food constitute "populations" just as human beings do, and so they, too, ought to increase not arithmetically, as Malthus claimed, but geometrically.

The food supply, in other words, ought to keep pace with human population growth, thereby leaving all of us well-fed, happy, and snug in our beds.

Which, Simon discovered, is exactly what has happened throughout history.

So if you look at the facts - as opposed to spinning out theories - you find precisely the reverse of the situation described by Malthus.

Just the opposite!

Simon acquired his habit of looking up the facts in early childhood, at the dinner table of the family home in Newark, New Jersey.

He'd be in some argument with his father over the benefits of exercise, the price of butter, or the health value of air conditioning, and whether from ignorance, pigheadedness, or general perversity, his father would always take some outlandish, off-the-wall viewpoint, such as: "The price of butter is 8 cents a pound."

Julian: "No, it's not, it's 80 cents a pound."

"It's in the newspaper, take a look."

Father: "I don't have to look."

"I know it's 8 cents a pound."

Julian: "Do you want to bet?"

"I'll bet you it's not 8 cents a pound."

His father would never take the bet, but Julian would go to the library anyway, look things up in books, and come back with a ream of facts and data.

His father, however, couldn't care less.

"I clearly didn't like my father," says Simon.

It's an attitude that drives him crazy to this day - people who know in advance what the truth is, who don't need to avail themselves of any "facts."

But Simon loves facts and figures, he loves tables, charts, graphs, information arranged in rows and columns.

Tabulations, the slopes of curves, diagrams, pie charts, histograms - he's a regular Mr. Data.

Of course, since people don't particularly like to have their cherished beliefs contradicted by heaps of facts served up on a platter, Simon has never been Mr. Popularity.

He got fired from jobs in the navy because he hated the customary ass-kissing, sucking-up, and yessir requirements.

Nor has he ever been much for schmoozing, glad-handing, or the latter-day manners of get-along, go-along.

"Socially I was always a bit marginal," he admits.

"Also, there always lurked inside me some irreverence for authority and orthodoxy."[/size]

None of this held him back academically.

He got a bachelor's in experimental psychology from Harvard, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and, two years later, in 1961, a PhD in business economics from the same school.

He was not one of those MBAs whose closest contact with the gritty business world was going down to the corner newsstand to purchase a copy of The Wall Street Journal.

The year he got his doctorate he started and operated his own business, a mail-order firm that sold quality teas, coffees, and a book on how to make beer at home.

The enterprise was successful enough, but not so much as the book he later wrote about it, How to Start and Operate a Mail-Order Business (McGraw-Hill, 1965), still in print and currently in its fifth edition.

He got married and had three kids and wound up, successively, as professor of advertising, of marketing, and of business administration and economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Then in 1966 or so, he had his big idea about how to solve the airline overbooking problem.

Anticipating no-shows, airlines routinely oversold their flights.

But when more people showed up at the gate than the plane had seats, pandemonium ensued.

*Well, why not pay people to get off the plane?" he wondered.

Offer them enough to make it attractive.

It would be a voluntary system, and everyone would win.

So in his practical, down-to-earth, this-is-only-reasonable fashion, he submitted his suggestion to the airlines.

The idea was laughed at, mocked, and ridiculed as unrealistic and unworkable.

An official at Pan American replied: "Of course, we instituted the procedure immediately, after having the instructions translated into 18 languages."

Ha ha ha, thank you, and goodbye.

Eleven years later, in 1977, Simon hadn't given up on the scheme.

He published it in The Wall Street Journal, in an op-ed piece titled "Wherein the Author Offers a Modest Proposal."

And lo and behold, a year after that, when economist Alfred Kahn headed up the Civil Aeronautics Board, Simon's proposal was put into practice.

It was a raging success from the start, remains so to this day, and anyone who's ever voluntarily offloaded themselves from a plane for cash or free miles owes a nod of thanks to Julian Simon.

Still, that was a mere flash in the pan, and Simon's overall impact on the world at large was rather less massive than he desired.

He was not making a name for himself, not setting the world on fire.

But there were those who were - Paul Ehrlich, for example.

Ehrlich, a Stanford University entomologist who as a youth had seen his best butterfly hunting grounds churned under the real estate developer's plow, wrote the runaway best-seller The Population Bomb.

Published in 1968, the book was solidly Malthusian.

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over," it began.

"In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."

"At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate, although many lives could be saved through dramatic programs to 'stretch' the carrying capacity of the earth by increasing food production and providing for more equitable distribution of whatever food is available."

"But these programs will only provide a stay of execution unless they are accompanied by determined and successful efforts at population control."

And so on, The Complete and Authoritative Litany, for the next 200 pages.

This late-breaking Malthusian out-burst, strangely enough, did set the world on fire.

The book sold 3 million copies, became the best-selling environmental tract of all time, and got the author on The Tonight Show.

At home in Illinois, Simon watched Ehrlich on the Johnny Carson show, and he went bananas.

In fact, more bananas than he'd ever before gone in his life.

Simon had by that time decided that the Malthusian stuff was the purest mythology, an invention out of whole cloth, a theory that was entirely controverted by every available empirical fact.

And here was Paul Ehrlich on TV spreading his stardust all over the place and holding Johnny Carson in some kind of mystic thrall.

"It absolutely drove me out of my skull," he recalls.

"Here was a guy reaching a vast audience, leading this juggernaut of environmentalist hysteria, and I felt utterly helpless."

"What could I do?"

"Go talk to five people?"

As bad an experience as that was, matters immediately got worse.

The next year, 1969, Ehrlich published an article called "Eco-Catastrophe!" in Ramparts.

"Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born," it said.

"By that time [1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions."

Then, in 1974, Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich, also a Stanford biologist, published a new book, The End of Affluence, in which they warned of a "nutritional disaster that seems likely to overtake humanity in the 1970s (or, at the latest, the 1980s).

"Due to a combination of ignorance, greed, and callousness, a situation has been created that could lead to a billion or more people starving to death...."

"Before 1985 mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity" in which "the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be nearing depletion."

Julian Simon read this stuff, which he viewed as unalloyed and total nonsense.

He brooded and fumed and stewed in his juices.

He experienced what might be called a personal lull.

And then, finally, in 1980 he emerged from the cocoon.

He'd gone into it as a humble professor of marketing and a passive spectator of global death sentence forecasts.

But now, suddenly, he broke out into the light of day, he sprang forth onto the world stage, he started swinging his diamond-tipped sword - thwick-thwack! - as ... The Doomslayer!

The rebirth occurred in the pages of Science, in an article titled "Resources, Population, Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News."

It led with a summary that became a manifesto: False bad news about population growth, natural resources, and the environment is published widely in the face of contrary evidence.

For example, the world supply of arable land has actually been increasing, the scarcity of natural resources including food and energy has been decreasing, and basic measures of U.S. environmental quality show positive trends.

The aggregate data show no long-run negative effect of population growth upon standard of living.

Models that embody forces omitted in the past, especially the influence of population size upon productivity increase, suggest a long-run positive effect of additional people.

Written in the form of Statement followed by Fact, every reigning doomsday dragon was neatly slashed in half, the severed beasts left flapping around on the ground like fish.


The food situation in less-developed countries is worsening.


Per capita food production has been increasing at roughly 1 percent yearly - 25 percent during the last quarter century.


Urban sprawl is paving over the United States, including much "prime agricultural land" and recreational areas.

Fact: All the land used for urban areas plus roadways totals less than 3 percent of the United States....

Each year 1.25 million acres are converted to efficient cropland by draining swamps and irrigating deserts....

A million acres yearly goes into additional wilderness recreation areas and wildlife refuges, and another 300,000 acres goes for reservoirs and flood control.

So on and so forth, fact piled upon fact, paragraph after paragraph, all of it buttressed by tables, charts, graphs, and diagrams, plus 42 footnotes, many of them containing additional data.

Letters to the editor poured into Science in an unseemly rush.

A few of them expressed partial agreement, but the majority were heavily critical.

Many of them repeated statutory items of The Litany - "human beings, like any other species, have the biological capacity to overrun the carrying capacity of their habitat" - and there were even some feeble attempts at humor: in extrapolating from past trends, said one writer, Simon is like "the person who leaped from a very tall building and on being asked how things were going as he passed the 20th floor replied, 'Fine, so far.'"

(Simon's response: "I think the better story is about somebody who has a rope lifeline and falls off the 15th floor. Somewhere about 30 feet above the ground, she lets go of the rope. You ask her, 'Why did you let go of the rope?' And she answers, 'It was going to break anyway.' That's how many activists would like us to behave.")

Anne and Paul Ehrlich, along with two energy and natural resource experts, John Holdren and John Harte, wrote their own letter to the editor.

After charging Simon with various "errors about the economics of scarcity," they went on to make some new doomsday predictions: "If deforestation for agriculture proceeds on a large enough scale, the resulting pulse of carbon dioxide may combine with that from increasing fossil-fuel combustion to alter global climate in a way that undermines food production to an unprecedented degree."

They also corrected one of Simon's data points having to do with electricity, which Simon claimed had gotten cheaper.

"The fact is," they said, "that real electricity prices bottomed in 1971 and were already up 18 percent from that low point in 1972."

An 18 percent increase where Simon said there'd been a decline!

"I was taken aback," said Simon in his published reply.

"Holdren and Harte are energy scholars."

"I checked Fig. 1 and other sources but could see no sign of their 18 percent."

So he placed a phone call to the coauthor of the report cited by Holdren, Harte, and the Ehrlichs.

"He, too, was puzzled."

"Upon investigation, the 1971 number (80.2) proved to be a typographical error and should have been 93.3."

"So much for Holdren et alia's 'fact.'"

The battle lines now drawn, it was not long before Ehrlich and Simon met for a duel in the sun.

The face-off occurred in the pages of Social Science Quarterly, where Simon challenged Ehrlich to put his money where his mouth was.

In response to Ehrlich's published claim that "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000" - a proposition Simon regarded as too silly to bother with - Simon countered with "a public offer to stake US$10,000 ... on my belief that the cost of non-government-controlled raw materials (including grain and oil) will not rise in the long run."

You could name your own terms: select any raw material you wanted - copper, tin, whatever - and select any date in the future, "any date more than a year away," and Simon would bet that the commodity's price on that date would be lower than what it was at the time of the wager.

"How about it, doomsayers and catastrophists?"

"First come, first served."

In California, Paul Ehrlich stepped right up - and why not?

He'd been repeating the Malthusian argument for years; he was sure that things were running out, that resources were getting scarcer - "nearing depletion," as he'd said - and therefore would have to become more expensive.

A public wager would be the chance to demonstrate the shrewdness of his forecasts, draw attention to the catastrophic state of the world situation, and, not least, force this Julian Simon character to eat his words.

So he jumped at the chance: "I and my colleagues, John P. Holdren (University of California, Berkeley) and John Harte (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), jointly accept Simon's astonishing offer before other greedy people jump in."

Ehrlich and his colleagues picked five metals that they thought would undergo big price rises: chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten.

Then, on paper, they bought $200 worth of each, for a total bet of $1,000, using the prices on September 29, 1980, as an index.

They designated September 29, 1990, 10 years hence, as the payoff date.

If the inflation-adjusted prices of the various metals rose in the interim, Simon would pay Ehrlich the combined difference; if the prices fell, Ehrlich et alia would pay Simon.

Then they sat back and waited.

Between 1980 and 1990, the world's population grew by more than 800 million, the largest increase in one decade in all of history.

But by September 1990, without a single exception, the price of each of Ehrlich's selected metals had fallen, and in some cases had dropped through the floor.

Chrome, which had sold for $3.90 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.70 in 1990.

Tin, which was $8.72 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.88 a decade later.

Which is how it came to pass that in October 1990, Paul Ehrlich mailed Julian Simon a check for $576.07.

A more perfect resolution of the Ehrlich-Simon debate could not be imagined.

All of the former's grim predictions had been decisively overturned by events.

Ehrlich was wrong about higher natural resource prices, about "famines of unbelievable proportions" occurring by 1975, about "hundreds of millions of people starving to death" in the 1970s and '80s, about the world "entering a genuine age of scarcity."

In 1990, for his having promoted "greater public understanding of environmental problems," Ehrlich received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

By the time he'd won the bet, Simon and his family had moved back to the East Coast, he to take up a position as professor of business administration at the University of Maryland, and his wife, Rita Simon, a sociologist, to become professor of criminal justice at the American University in Washington, DC.

They moved into a red brick house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, an upper-middle-class community inside the Beltway.

The house had computers on every floor, two Xerox copiers, and an assortment of exercise machines on which Julian Simon read books or newspapers while trying to keep his spare and straight body in fighting trim.

When it wasn't raining, snowing, or more than 100 degrees outside, he did his research and writing out on the deck, sometimes with a wet sponge covering his shaved bald head.

He'd sit there in the shade of the mulberry tree, binoculars nearby to stare at birds - particularly hummingbirds that came to a feeder.

And with battery-acid coffee from a thermos that looked as if it came over on the Mayflower, he'd tilt at new windmills.

He always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large.

For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they'd been medically vaccinated against the force of fact.

Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days "experts" spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed.

Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.

There was Lester Brown, for example, founder and president of the Worldwatch Institute, who in 1981 wrote: "The period of global food security is over."

"As the demand for food continues to press against the supply, inevitably real food prices will rise."

"The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise but how much."

All during the 1980s, however, wheat and rice prices declined; in mid-century, in fact, they reached all-time lows.

But this made no difference, and in 1986, for his work on the "global economy and the natural resources and the systems that support it," Lester Brown, too, received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

Julian Simon never received a MacArthur award.

"MacArthur!" he says.

"I can't even get a McDonald's!"

This did not discourage him.

Doomslaying was a thankless task, but it had to be done, like taking out the garbage: it had to be carted to the dump today even if there'd be another big pile of it tomorrow.

So Simon penned tract after tract pleading his case: The Ultimate Resource (Princeton University Press, 1981), arguing that the most valuable resource of all was people; Theory of Population and Economic Growth in 1986; Population and Development in Poor Countries in 1992, and so on.

In all, he wrote or edited a rough dozen such books, all of them aimed at demolishing one or another tenet of The Litany.

But the nearest he got to that MacArthur was a senior fellowship from the conservative Cato Institute.

Naturally, he received a fair amount of bad press for all this heresy, particularly for his pet claim that what the world needs most is lots of additional human beings.

They're not just mouths to feed, he argued.

Newborn babes grow up to be creative adults; they turn into individuals who contribute and achieve, who give back far more than they ever take.

But nobody could believe it.

"He's overly optimistic," said Peggy Rizo, then of the Washington, DC-based Population Crisis Committee, now called Population Action International.

"He is an economist who is trying to transpose what he believes to be the American prairie experience into the experience of crowded areas like Africa, Central America, and Asia."

"What does it mean in terms of the quality of life of the people of the 21st century when cities are joined to cities and we have just several huge megalopolises?" asked Rupert Cutler, then executive director of the Environmental Fund, which became Population Environment Balance, headquartered in Washington, DC.

"I think we can predict a pall of brown air over these cities."

"We can predict water shortages, joblessness ... and crime."

Well, it wasn't as if Julian Simon hadn't heard that before.

Finally, in 1995 he came out with his crowning fact-feast and catalog of bounty, a book he edited called The State of Humanity.

Almost 700 pages of dense text plus charts and figures, the quantity of factual information in it was nothing short of amazing.

Simon had data you didn't even know people track, such as:

• World cereal yields, 1950-1990.

• Declining crowding in American housing, persons per room, 1900-1987.

• Northeast Brazil: apparent per capita daily consumption of major starchy staples among low-income classes, 1974-1975.

• Industrial lead pollution at Camp Century, Greenland, since 800 BC.

• Oxygen content (in milliliters per liter) at 100 meters depth at Station F 12 in the Bothnian Bay of the Baltic Sea 1900-1968.

Arcane as some of it was, Simon was extremely adept at using this material in formal debates.

In July 1996, at a public event sponsored by the World Future Society, Simon debated Hazel Henderson, a private researcher and author of Building a Win-Win World (see "Win-Win World," page 152).

Henderson, who was trying to make a case that government regulation was responsible for reduced air pollution, came armed with a graph showing a decline in pollution levels in London since the late 1950s.

The slope of the line was clearly downward, illustrating, she said, the effect of London's Clean Air Act of 1956.

In his rebuttal period, Simon presented a graph of his own.

Whenever he presents any data, his practice is to present the figures going all the way back to day one, to the start of record-keeping on the parameter in question.

You have to focus on aggregate trends over the long term, he insists, not just pick and choose some little fleeting data chunks that seem to support your case.

So his own chart of smoke levels in London stretched back into the 1800s, and the line from the 1920s on showed a constant and uniform downward slope.

"If you look at all the data," he said, "you can't tell that there was a clean-air act at any point."

Anyone who wonders about the accuracy of Simon's data or conjures up rafts of competing data on the other side of the issue will be met with Simon's claim that: "There are no other data."

His statistics, he claims, come from the "official" sources, the standard reference works that everyone uses.

"Test for yourself the assertion that the physical conditions of humanity have gotten better."

"Pick up the US Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract of the United States and Historical Statistics of the United States at the nearest library."

"They're accessible to any schoolkid."

"Start at 1800."

"Those books have half the data you need for almost anything."

Well, if you've never opened a volume of Historical Statistics of the United States, you don't know what excitement is.

Two fat square tomes chock-full of charts, tables, and black ink.

"Wonderful, wonderful books!"

For each of Simon's claims that I checked, the data in those volumes were identical to his.

Black infant mortality rates are declining, he says in The State of Humanity.

And on page 57 of volume one of Historical Statistics of the United States, in Table B 136-147, under "Fetal Death Ratio; neonatal, infant, and maternal mortality rates, by race: 1915 to 1970," the precise same decline in mortality rates is presented in tabular form: from 180 black infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1915 to 31 per 1,000 in 1970.

Similarly, his figures for life expectancy correspond to those in the original sources.

Same for air pollution.

So go ahead and check his data!


Some of Simon's other claims, however, are so far from received opinion as to be hard to take seriously - his view on species loss, for example, regarding which he asserts that "the highest rate of observed extinctions is one species per year."

That was hard to accept.

Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, the guru of global species extinction, said in 1991: "Believe me, species become extinct."

"We're easily eliminating 100,000 a year."

A year later, in his 1992 book The Diversity of Life, he had modified that figure somewhat, saying: "The number of species doomed each year is 27,000."

Apparently, these numbers were a tiny bit slippery.

Still, both of them were a far cry from Simon's "one species per year."

Simon, on the other hand, pointed out that the higher estimates did not come from observation, they came from theory, specifically from Wilson's own theory of "island biogeography" which correlates species extinction with tropical forest destruction.

The theory's "species-area equation," supposedly, predicts that for each additional unit of forest destroyed, so many more species die out.

This was another mathematical argument, reminiscent of the one made long ago by Malthus, and it was exactly the type of Neat Mathematical Certainty that Julian Simon took so much joy in shooting big holes through, which is what he proceeded to do now.

The problem with the theory, he wrote in a paper on species loss with Aaron Wildavsky, is that it is not borne out by the empirical facts.

"The only empirical observation we found is by Lugo for Puerto Rico, where 'human activity reduced the area of primary forests by 99 percent...."

"This massive forest conversion did not lead to a correspondingly massive species extinction.'" Simon quoted Lugo to the effect that "more land birds have been present on the Island in the 1980s (97 species) than were present in pre-Columbian times (60 species)."

Say again?

The forest was 99 percent demolished, and the number of bird species actually rose?

Even for me, this was too much.

The International Institute of Tropical Forestry, part of the US Forest Service, is located in an overgrown gray stone building in San Juan's Botanical Gardens.

Ariel E. Lugo, a slim, gray-bearded man in a silver-green forest service uniform, is director.

He's also a world-class expert on tropical forests and species extinction.

A native of Puerto Rico, Lugo was educated in San Juan through his master's degree, came to the mainland, got a PhD in plant ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then taught botany for 10 years at the University of Florida.

He spent two years at the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources and two more years on Jimmy Carter's Council on Environmental Quality in Washington, DC.

Finally, he went back to San Juan as director of the Institute, a position he's held for the last 17 years.

"I see myself as in the middle of the road," he says.

"On the right of me is Julian Simon, who sees nothing wrong."

"You know, 'We're doing just fine.'"

"I don't want you to put me at that extreme."

Still, Lugo is not what could be called a major supporter of Wilson's theory of island biogeography, or of the species-area equation that forms its mathematical centerpiece.

The equation is simple enough: S = CAz where S is the number of species, A is the area, and C and z are constants for the type of species in question, its location, and other factors.

The apparent certainty it embodies, however, is an illusion, according to Lugo.

"The first uncertainty is that we don't know how many species there are."

"The margin of error is enormous: depending on who you talk to there is anywhere between 5 million and 100 million species, but science has described only a million species."

"How can you predict how many species are lost if you don't know how many species you're dealing with?"

The second problem is that the equation was never intended to describe extinctions to begin with.

"It was a device for explaining the number of species on islands," he says.

Generally, the bigger the island, the more species it has, other things being equal.

But even if cutting down an island's forests causes species to leave the area, that's not the same thing as making those species extinct.

"The presence or absence of a species in a particular area is one thing, whereas wiping out the genome of that species is another thing altogether - wiping out the seed, wiping out the mechanisms for hibernation, wiping out its dispersal, wiping out the management of the species."

"That's a completely different biology."

"And what is the relationship between deforestation and species loss to begin with?" he asks.

"Do we understand that?"

"Do we know that when you deforest an acre, you lose x proportion of species, to extinction?"

"Well, I'm afraid that nobody knows that."

"There is not one study that can claim to have understood the relationship between deforestation and species lost to extinction."

"And so if you're an objective scientist," he says, "you cannot put a number to the rate of species lost."

"But I believe we're exaggerating the numbers."

"What's unstated in all this is that when you deforest, you go to zero, that you go to pavement."

"That's how I put it, that 'you go to pavement.'"

"This is why people get mad at me, because at this point in my talks I show a slide of pavement, but the pavement has weeds growing through it."

"I can take you to places of abandoned roads in the rain forest that have trees growing out of them."

Trees sprouting from the asphalt!

Birds perching on the branches, insects crawling, worms boring, bees buzzing, lizards walking, moss growing on the tree trunk!

"Look at the example of Puerto Rico," Lugo says.

"This island has a documented deforestation rate of 90 percent, and it has a documented loss of primary forest of 97 to 98 percent."

"So here's an island that has lost in the past, in the recent past, up to the '50s - I was already born when the island was at the peak of deforestation - it's lost almost all of its forest."

"The first surprise is that there are more bird species here now than ever, in part due to the invasion of nonindigenous species."

"The second surprise is that much of the forest has grown back."

On Lugo's conference table is a book open to two photographs.

"Now, where I'm gonna send you today," he says, "is here."

He points to a road that winds through the western fringe of El Yunque, the Caribbean National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the US national forest system.

Picture One, an aerial photograph taken in 1951, shows the area on the west side of the road: clear-cut, mowed down, absolutely denuded of trees.

It looks like stumps and dead grass.

The east side of the road, by contrast, is deep, dark, and flush with vegetation, an untouched virgin rain forest.

Picture Two shows the same area 13 years later: from the aerial photograph, both sides of the road are identical.

"You can see that it recovered," says Lugo.

"So, you take your car and you ride through these forests, and you tell me."

Puerto Rico Route 186 is not far away, about 30 minutes by traffic jam.

The road is paved but unmarked, slightly more than a lane wide, just enough space for two cars to pass without the sound of impact.

You drive toward the mountains, white clouds bunched above, isolated raindrops spattering the windshield, and in five or six minutes there's tropical forest on both sides.

Tall ferns, flame trees, mahogany trees, humongous green leafy plants, plus massive clumps of bamboo - stalks that tower 20 or 30 feet overhead.

Julian Simon: The facts are fundamental.

Garrett Hardin: The facts are not fundamental. The theory is fundamental.

- from a 1982 debate with the UC Santa Barbara biologist

The doomslayer-doomsayer debate, Simon thinks, is an opposition between fact and bad theory, a case of empirical reality versus abstract principles that purport to define the way things work but don't.

"It's the difference," he says, "between a speculative analysis of what must happen versus my empirical analysis of what has happened over the long sweep of history."

The paradox is that those abstract principles and speculative analyses seem so very logical and believable, whereas the facts themselves, the story of what has happened, appear wholly illogical and impossible to explain.

After all, people are fruitful and they multiply but the stores of raw materials in the earth's crust certainly don't, so how can it be possible that, as the world's population doubles, the price of raw materials is cut in half?

It makes no sense.

Yet it has happened.

So there must be an explanation.

And there is: resources, for the most part, don't grow on trees.

People produce them, they create them, whether it be food, factories, machines, new technologies, or stockpiles of mined, refined, and purified raw materials.

"Resources come out of people's minds more than out of the ground or air," says Simon.

"Minds matter economically as much as or more than hands or mouths."

"Human beings create more than they use, on average."

"It had to be so, or we would be an extinct species."

The defect of the Malthusian models, superficially plausible but invariably wrong, is that they leave the human mind out of the equation.

"These models simply do not comprehend key elements of people - the imaginative and creative."

As for the future, "This is my long-run forecast in brief," says Simon.

"The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely."

"Within a century or two, all nations and most of humanity will be at or above today's Western living standards.

"I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse."

But you don't have to be one of those people, one of those forever Glum and Gloomy Gusses.

All you've got to do is keep your mind on the facts.

The world is not coming to an end.

Things are not running out.

Time is not short.

So, smile!


Enjoy the afternoon!


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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:40 p

A Brief Field Guide to Scientific Crackpots

Posted on January 4, 2008 by skullsinthestars

Science and technology have progressed rapidly over the past fifty years, and access to this knowledge and opposing viewpoints has grown rapidly as well, thanks to the internet.

Unfortunately, not all of these opposing viewpoints are reasonable, and many come from genuine crackpots.

For the non-technical reader, it can be difficult to separate the legitimate science from the crazy nonsense, both because the actual science often sounds crazy (invisibility cloaks, for instance) and the crackpots can mask their nonsense with plausible-sounding technobabble.

How does a non-specialist distinguish between a legitimate scientist and a crackpot?

This question motivated me to write this post, “A Brief Field Guide to Scientific Crackpots”.

We will look at a number of common attitudes possessed by such cranks, any of which should raise warning flags if encountered.

Hopefully such a list will help people navigate the often treacherous world of scientific thinking without colliding with pseudo-scientific icebergs.

It should be mentioned that this list is certainly not complete, and not necessarily absolute.

Scientists doing legitimate research will sometimes fall back on crank-like arguments, for instance.

It should also be mentioned that this list concerns scientific crackpots, and not medical charlatans: medical charlatans are often more polished and clever in their arguments, in large part because they are genuine con artists instead of deluded individuals.

Anyway, here’s a list of crackpot arguments, along with an explanation of why such arguments should be regarded with suspicion:

1. An obsession with semantics, the exact meaning of words, and an abuse of it.

The most infamous example of this sort of argument is the “evolution is a theory, not a fact” cry of the anti-evolution/creationist crowd.

The scientific definition of ‘theory’ is significantly different, and more rigorous, than the popular definition; creationists attempt to use confusion over this to their advantage.

In my recent run-in with a relativity denialist, there was an obsession with Einstein’s use of the word “natural” in one of his examples.

Although in context I (and all physicists) find it clear what Einstein meant by the word, the denialist felt that this usage invalidates the entire theory!

It should be noted that words are important in science.

Everyone has to agree on the terminology used, and when they don’t, genuinely intractable arguments can arise.

I’ve been privy to at least three big arguments amongst colleagues that arose, it turns out, because they were using the same words and phrases to talk about subtly different things.

But theories do not rise and fall on the basis of semantic definitions; they rise or fall on the presence or absence of supporting experimental evidence.

2. A criticism of only the oldest experimental and theoretical results.

Major scientific theories are not accepted blindly due to ideology or mob mentality; they are accepted because of a long, overwhelming body of evidence in support of them.

Crackpots trying to attack one of the foundations of modern science, such as evolution or relativity, like to ignore the majority of the evidence and only attack the weakest links.

Usually, this tends to be the oldest evidence.

The previously mentioned denialist’s entire argument hinges on papers written by Einstein over fifty years ago!

Another relativity denialist I have discussed spent a significant amount of time criticizing observations of a solar eclipse in 1919 which, at the time, were considered to be direct evidence of Einstein’s theory.

It is true that later analysis of these measurements have suggested that the results were inconclusive, but there have been numerous other measurements made, all of which clearly confirm the theory.

The crackpot makes no mention of these later results.

Anti-evolution arguments are similarly plagued.

Creationists can be found referring to old hoaxes such as Piltdown man (that was in fact uncovered by scientists) or found claiming that no transitional fossils have been discovered (completely ignoring numerous examples which have appeared since Darwin first proposed his theory).

These crackpots seem to think that a scientific theory is only as strong as its weakest link.

This is demonstrably false: quantum mechanics, for instance, labored for decades under a complete lack of understanding of what is meant by an ‘observer’ and a ‘measurement’.

These questions, in fact, are still not completely resolved, but decades of tests confirming the predictions of quantum mechanics have demonstrated its validity as a theory.

3. An obsession with ad hominem attacks, or a focus on criticizing individuals rather than theories.

Crackpots will often focus their attacks and attention on the ‘founding fathers’ of a scientific theory.

These attacks may be honorably limited to the research of the individual, but just as often as not become personal attacks on a researcher’s character.

Darwin is the most common target for ad hominem attacks.

Creationists love to tell the story of how he recanted on his deathbed (not true), and are eager to point out that Darwin knew very little mathematics (not that they know any more than he did, in most cases).

Einstein is usually not slandered, but there is a special emphasis on trying to find flaws in his original papers.

Such arguments are completely irrelevant, in any case.

Science, strictly speaking, does not care about the character of an individual, only how well his theories hold up against reality.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, successful theories grow beyond the vision of their ‘parent’, changing to incorporate new experimental evidence and growing stronger with each new independent confirmation.

Metaphorically speaking, figures such as Darwin and Einstein only gave birth to their theories: generations of scientists since then have adopted those theories, helped them grow and become stronger.

4. Constant references to a conspiracy against the author’s results.

When science dismisses, ignores, or mocks the work of the crackpot, it is never the crackpot’s fault: either the audience of scientists are too ‘vain and ignorant’ to comprehend the genius at work, or the scientists are actively conspiring to hide THE TRUTH from the general public, for reasons of ideology or self-interest.

Creationists love to make this accusation.

Their ‘creation science’ is only ignored because scientists are afraid to challenge the establishment or because scientists are attempting to fulfill some sort of atheistic conspiracy.

It is true that science is a human endeavor, and is potentially subject to all the human foibles such as greed, lust for power, pride, and jealousy.

The community as a whole, however, is quite self-regulating in a “free-market” manner: for every scientist who might want to suppress a new discovery for selfish reasons, there are numerous others who would love to take credit for making that discovery.

Science as a whole is a somewhat conservative discipline: radical changes in thought are resisted until undeniable evidence is presented in its favor.

The fact that crackpots are ignored has nothing to do with conspiracy and everything to do with their utter lack of evidence.

5. An extreme view that an established scientific theory is “completely wrong”.

I used to get spam email regularly (another sign of a crackpot) from a person in China with the header, “Uncertainty principle is untenable!”

I never bothered to read the message, but I doubt that I missed any revelatory new physics.

Crackpots are typically not only convinced that a theory is flawed, but that the theory is completely wrong.

Our relativity denialists take issue with Einstein’s founding postulates, and with that belief, feel free to ignore all supporting evidence that comes along.

6. Criticisms of existing theories which rely on “common sense”.

This particular branch of’ ‘crackpottery’ reminds me of a personal anecdote.

Years ago I was wandering through the lamp department of a Service Merchandise store, when I noticed bright red signs prominently displayed: “CAUTION! Light bulbs are hot! Do not touch!”

Common sense is evidently a terribly inaccurate method of understanding the world!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts numerous modern “common sense” ideas which were anything but when first proposed, among them: Newton’s laws, heliocentrism, the germ theory of disease, the brain as the center of intelligence, the theory of atoms.

For relativity denialists, the idea that space and time are intermingled violates common sense.

They have no strong quantitative criticism of the theory (which they probably don’t understand anyway), only a mushy notion that it “feels funny”.

Relativity felt funny to a lot of people, who raised objections to the theory in the form of apparent paradoxes — all of which were resolved successfully.

The lesson physicists learned from this is that “common sense” is an artifact of our limited perceptions and place in the universe.

In fact, modern science was really born when people realized that the universe might work differently in circumstances different from those experienced in daily life.

7. A complete absence of quantitative analysis.

In a 165-page “primer” on geocentricity (discussed in another post), the long-disavowed notion that the Earth is the center of the universe, a crank author uses no calculations to back up his extravagant alternative theory of celestial motion.

He claims the theory works just fine, but does it?

Without calculations which can be checked for errors and compared to experiment, there’s no immediate way to tell.

The relativity denialists mentioned earlier also present no quantitative results to back up their ideas, only appeals to “common sense”.

The Templeton Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting the links of science and religion, once asked for proponents of intelligent design (dressed-up creationism) to submit research proposals.

“They never came in,” said the Foundation’s senior vice president.

These are some of the characteristics and arguments of crackpot scientists, and are things which should raise a red flag if you come across them.

https://skullsinthestars.com/2008/01/04 ... crackpots/

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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:40 p

thelivyjr wrote: So before we go further in our review of this recent diatribe on climate change in the Cape Charles Mirror, let us go back and more carefully examine the closing statement, to wit:

"We need not fear the climate, only fear itself."

end quotes

We need not fear "the climate?"

Does that make any kind of sense, at all, given that there is no such thing as "the climate?"

So really, what is this thing called "the climate" that we need not fear?

According to a simple dictionary definition, "climate" is the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period, as in "our cold, wet climate," with such synonyms as weather pattern, weather conditions, weather, atmospheric conditions, as in "the Channel Islands have an enviably mild climate."

So, then, is it true that we need not fear the climate when in fact the climate is the weather conditions we have to face in the place we are in, given that not all of us are so lucky or blessed to be gifted with the moderate climate of Cape Charles, Virginia, a small town on the west side of the south end of the Delmarva Peninsula that has its weather in large part determined by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean?

Or is that simply a stupid statement being put forth by a science denier in a bid to make us all stupid, as well?


"Tropical storm conditions lash Florida as Hurricane Dorian sets its sights on the Carolinas"

Andrew Freedman, Jason Samenow


Hurricane Dorian is lashing the east coast of Florida with tropical storm conditions, and is now forecast to come very close to making landfall in the Carolinas between late Wednesday and early Friday, spreading its arsenal of high winds, storm surge flooding and heavy rains to at least four more states.

As of Tuesday night, tropical storm conditions had reached Florida’s Space Coast.

Although Dorian is no longer the Category 5 powerhouse it was on Labor Day, it has grown in size, and it’s capable of moving more water toward the shore than a smaller storm of similar intensity.

As it moves parallel to the Florida coast, its expanding swath of tropical storm and hurricane force winds will push north, into coastal Georgia, while driving dangerously high surf toward the shoreline, resulting in coastal flooding and beach erosion.

Now a strong Category 2 storm, Dorian slammed into the northwestern Bahamas over the weekend with the historic full fury of its 185-mile-per-hour winds and 23-foot storm surge.

Video and images emerging from the Bahamas show a toll of absolute devastation on Great Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, two locations where the eye of the storm made landfall.

The storm’s growing wind field is capable of producing a damaging storm surge along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, and hurricane warnings and watches have been hoisted from the Florida coastline northward to the North Carolina Outer Banks.

A storm surge watch is in effect all the way north to Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Tropical-storm conditions, with sustained winds of greater than 39 mph, have been observed along Florida’s Treasure and Space Coasts, and and are expected to move farther north toward Jacksonville into Wednesday morning.

Hurricane conditions, with sustained winds of at least 74 mph, are possible if the storm wobbles westward.

However, the strongest winds are more likely to occur further north of Florida, as the storm hugs the coastline while being directed to the north-northeast by a dip in the jet stream to its west.

The Hurricane Center projects a life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds from coastal Georgia to the North Carolina Outer Banks, “regardless of the track of Dorian’s center."

The latest on Hurricane Dorian

As of 11 p.m. on Tuesday, the storm was 95 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Florida and moving northwest at 6 mph.

The storm’s peak sustained winds were 110 mph, making it a high-end Category 2 storm.

Dorian is expected to maintain its current intensity through Thursday, while growing in size.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

The Hurricane Center wrote the area of hurricane-force winds is likely to expand some in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Radar from Central Florida showed Dorian’s outer rain bands pivoting inland producing heavy rain and strong winds.

Wind gusts have reached up to around 60 to 70 mph along the Space Coast.

As the storm drove the ocean inland Tuesday, social media photographs showed the sea reaching the dunes at Satellite Beach, which is just north of Melbourne:

“We have received reports of significant coastal flooding and major beach erosion from Sebastian Inlet south to Saint Lucie Inlet, along the barrier islands and Intracoastal Waterway,” the Weather Service office in Melbourne tweeted on Tuesday.

The office stated that it is “expecting worse conditions” for the midnight high tide along the Space Coast.

Forecast for northeastern Florida

The forecast track keeps the storm’s most dangerous winds and highest levels of storm-surge flooding from coming ashore in the Sunshine State, but brings the storm close enough to bring heavy rains, damaging winds and storm surge flooding to the east coast of Florida.

However, hurricanes do not always behave as forecast.

Despite being Earth’s most massive and powerful storms, they’re remarkably sensitive to internal and external hiccups.

These storms can wobble east or west as they move generally north, for example, like a spinning top on a table.

However, if the storm stays on its present course, the coast is likely to only experience tropical storm conditions.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for much of the Florida east coast from Sebastien Inlet north.

The National Hurricane Center is warning that “life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are expected along portions of the Florida east coast.”

In addition, water levels along the coast northward to the Carolinas are forecast to rise “well in advance of the arrival of strong winds.”

For example, the Weather Service forecast office in Charleston, South Carolina is forecasting that storm surge flooding may begin to occur on Wednesday morning, well ahead of the storm’s center of circulation.

Areas that are especially vulnerable to storm-surge flooding, such as Jacksonville, Fla., could once again see significant flooding depending on the exact track and timing of the storm.

In Florida, the latest storm-surge forecast shows that if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide, the area north of Volusia County could see three to five feet of water above ground.

The surge is forecast to reach 2 to 4 feet in the zone farther south from Jupiter Inlet through Volusia County.

Rainfall along the Florida coast could reach 3 to 6 inches.

Forecast for coastal Georgia, Carolinas and Virginia

Conditions are expected to deteriorate early Wednesday in coastal Georgia and mid-morning to afternoon in South Carolina.

Where and whether Dorian makes landfall will depend on the exact trajectory of its turn relative to the coast as it heads north and then starts to bend northeastward, but computer model projections on Tuesday evening showed an increasing likelihood of either a near miss or that the eye of the storm would make landfall.

The impacts between a near miss and landfall are insignificant in this case, since the storm no longer has a tightly wound core, but rather is a far broader system than it was when it tore across the Bahamas.

“Even if Dorian does not make landfall, hurricane-force winds are expected to reach portions of the coast from central Florida to North Carolina,” the Hurricane Center stated.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for coastal Georgia, while a hurricane warning covers the entire South Carolina coast north to Surf City, North Carolina.

A hurricane watch spans from Duck to the North Carolina/Virginia border.

The Georgia and South Carolina coastlines are particularly vulnerable to storm surge flooding, even from a storm that does not make landfall, due to the shape of the land on and just offshore, as well as the effects of sea level rise and land subsidence over time.

The surge could reach 3 to 5 feet in Georgia and 4 to 7 feet from the South Carolina coast north to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

Further north, the possibility of a 2-to-4-foot surge exists north to Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The Weather Service forecast office in Charleston, South Carolina is forecasting that storm surge flooding may begin to occur there on Wednesday morning, well ahead of the storm’s center of circulation.

Heavy rains of 6 to 10 inches or more could worsen the surge-related flooding by impeding drainage back out to sea.

In fact, depending on the timing of the maximum storm surge, Charleston could see this storm bring one of its top 5 water levels on record.

According to the Weather Service office in Charleston, based on the present forecast track, the result could be particularly severe.

Among the possible effects, it listed: “Large areas of deep inundation with storm surge flooding accentuated by battering waves."

"Structural damage to buildings, with several washing away."

"Damage compounded by floating debris."

"Locations may be uninhabitable for an extended period.”

Locations farther north from Virginia Beach to the Delmarva and even up to Cape Cod could get clipped by the storm Friday and Saturday, with heavy rains, tropical storm force winds and coastal flooding.

A tropical storm watch is in effect from the North Carolina/Virginia border to Chincoteague, including the Virginia Beach area, as well as the Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward.

“The risk of wind and rain impacts along portions of the Virginia coast and the southern Chesapeake Bay are increasing,” the Hurricane Center wrote.

“Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian.”

Model forecasts and uncertainties

While computer model projections all show that Hurricane Dorian will remain just offshore Florida’s coast, there is some uncertainty in the forecast farther north.

Whereas on Monday many computer models suggested Dorian may not make landfall anywhere on the East Coast, more forecasts on Tuesday and Tuesday evening suggest the storm center could come ashore in the Carolinas.

“The track envelope has edged closer to the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina and the NHC track has been adjusted in that direction,” the Hurricane Center wrote on Tuesday afternoon.

“A track that close to the coast, even if landfall does not occur, is likely to bring dangerous winds, life-threatening storm surge, and flooding rains across the eastern portions of the Carolinas.”

For example, the Weather Service increased its rainfall forecast for North Carolina, including the Outer Banks, to 5 to 10 inches, with isolated 15-inch amounts.

Northwest Bahamas took a nightmarish, 40 hour direct hit

Grand Bahama Island has suffered an onslaught from this storm that few places on Earth have experienced, remaining in the eyewall of a major Category 4 or 5 storm for 40 hours.

The eyewall is the region of the storm surrounding its center that contains its strongest winds and generates the most destructive storm-surge flooding.

This is a storm that may have reshaped the northwestern Bahamas, particularly Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, for decades.

As Dorian approached over the weekend, the Hurricane Center used dire language to describe the threat, including the word “catastrophic.”

Unfortunately, it appears that was the result, particularly in the Abaco Islands and on Grand Bahama Island.

Typically hurricanes move fast enough to expose one spot to their full fury for a few hours or less.

But in this case, the storm reached Grand Bahama and stopped moving, with Hurricane Hunter aircraft finding essentially no movement each time they got to the storm’s center.

In addition to wind gusts up to 220 mph and a 23-foot storm surge, up to 40 inches of rain may have fallen in some areas.

According to one analysis, Dorian has been the slowest-moving major hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic.

Between 3 a.m. on Labor Day and 5 a.m. on Tuesday, the storm moved just 30 miles in 28 hours.

While grim news is emerging from Abaco, it may take longer to get a detailed picture of how Grand Bahama Island, where Freeport, a city of about 27,000, is located, fared in the storm.

On Monday evening, the Hurricane Center released a statement saying it expected additional “extreme destruction” on the island overnight due to a combination of extreme winds and storm surge flooding.

Although the worst of the storm had lifted north of the northwestern Bahamas Tuesday afternoon, the Hurricane Center warned dangerous winds and a life-threatening storm surge could persist into the evening.

Dorian’s place in history

Dorian is tied for the second-strongest storm (as judged by its maximum sustained winds) ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, behind Hurricane Allen of 1980, and, after striking the northern Bahamas, tied with the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane for the title of the strongest Atlantic hurricane at landfall.

It is only the second Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the Bahamas since 1983, according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

The only other is Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The international hurricane database goes back continuously only to 1983.

[Hurricane Dorian has smashed all sorts of intensity records in the Atlantic Ocean]

The storm’s peak sustained winds rank as the strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida on record.

Its pressure, which bottomed out at 910 millibars, is significantly lower than Hurricane Andrew’s when it made landfall in South Florida in 1992 (the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm).

With Dorian attaining Category 5 strength, this is the first time since the start of the satellite era (in the 1960s) that Category 5 storms have developed in the tropical Atlantic for four straight years, according to Capital Weather Gang tropical weather expert Brian McNoldy.

The unusual strength of Dorian and the rate at which it developed is consistent with the expectation of more intense hurricanes in a warming world.

Some studies have shown increases in hurricane rapid intensification, and modeling studies project an uptick in the frequency of Category 4 and 5 storms.

Dorian may have also set a record for the longest period of Category 4 and 5 conditions to strike one location in the North Atlantic Basin since the dawn of the satellite era, but historical data is relatively sparse.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topsto ... 7Kz#page=2

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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:40 p


"Remembering Julian Simon (1932–1998)"

By Robert Bradley Jr.

February 8, 2010

Editor note: Julian Simon is a primary inspiration for this free-market energy blog, the name of which comes from his characterization of energy as the master resource.

Twelve years ago today came the shocking news: Julian Simon, age 65, had died of heart failure after his regular morning workout in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

He had undiagnosed heart disease.

Just two months before, I had visited extensively with Simon when he came Houston to give what would be his last major address, titled: “More People, Greater Wealth, Expanded Resources, Cleaner Environment.”

A full house of 200 heard Simon that day, and one in attendance, free-market entrepreneur Gordon Cain, was so impressed that he mailed Simon an unsolicited $25,000 check for research.

Simon invited me to coauthor an energy paper with him for a conference he was planning.

This excited me, as did his warm inscription to my first edition copy of The Ultimate Resource.

After all, he was the latest major influence on me in a line of thinkers that began with Ayn Rand and had continued with Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek.

Not unlike other libertarians, I had gone from individualism-is-cool (Rand’s The Fountainhead) to free-markets-work (Mises’s Human Action) to the-perils-of-government-planning (Hayek, various).

I am not the only one to list Simon alongside other top classical liberal/libertarian scholars.

Don Boudreaux, chair of the department of economics at George Mason University, wrote:

The three scholars who have had the the greatest impact on my own thinking are F. A. Hayek, James Buchanan, and Julian Simon….

[Simon’s] vital idea of “the ultimate resource” … is one of the most profound — and least understood — in all of the social sciences.

Two Letters from F. A. Hayek

Hayek, in fact, credited Julian Simon for having crystallized the big picture for him and wrote a self-described “fan letter” to him in 1981.

Dear Professor Simon,

I have never before written a fan letter to a professional colleague, but to discover that you have in your Economics of Population Growth provided the empirical evidence for what with me is the result of a life-time of theoretical speculation, is too exciting an experience not to share it with you.

The upshot of my theoretical work has been the conclusion that those traditional rules of conduct (esp. of several property) which led to the greatest increases of the numbers of the groups practicing them leads to their displacing the others — not on “Darwinian” principles but because based on the transmission of learned rules — a concept of evolution which is much older than Darwin.

I doubt whether welfare economics has really much helped you to the right conclusions.

I claim as little as you do that population growth as such is good — only that it is the cause of the selection of the morals which guide our individual action.

It follows, of course, that our fear of a population explosion is unjustified so long as the local increases are the result of groups being able to feed larger numbers, but may become a severe embarrassment if we start subsidizing the growth of groups unable to feed themselves.

Sincerely, F. A.Hayek

Hayek wrote a second letter upon reading The Ultimate Resource:

Dear Professor Simon,

… I have now at last had time to read [The Ultimate Resource] with enthusiastic agreement.

So far as practical effect is concerned it ought to be even more important than your theoretical work which I found so exciting because it so strongly supports all the conclusions of the work I have been doing for the last few years.

I do not remember whether I explained in my earlier letter that one, perhaps the chief thesis of the book on The Fatal Conceit, the first draft of which I got on paper during the past summer, is that the basic morals of property and honesty, which created our civilization and the modern numbers of mankind, was the outcome of a process of selective evolution, in the course of which always those practices prevailed, which allowed the groups which adopted them to multiply more rapidly (mostly at their periphery among people who already profited from them without yet having fully adopted them.)

That was the reason for my enthusiasm for your theoretical work.

Your new book I welcome chiefly for the practical effects I am hoping from it.

Though you will be at first much abused, I believe the more intelligent will soon recognize the soundness of your case.

And the malicious pleasure of being able to tell most of their fellows what fools they are, should get you the support of the more lively minds about the media.

If your publishers want to quote me they are welcome to say that I described it as a first class book of great importance which ought to have great influence on policy….

Sincerely, F. A. Hayek

Two Tributes: Ben Wattenberg and Stephen Moore

Two tributes to Simon upon his passing are worth rereading.

One was published in the Wall Street Journal by close friend Ben Wattenberg; the other (longer) piece is by Simon’s pupil-made-good (and the 1st winner of the Julian Simon Memorial Award), Stephen Moore.

I reproduce both below, as well as the New York Times obituary on Simon.

Malthus, Watch Out: Ben Wattenberg, Wall Street Journal, February 11, 1998

Julian Simon, who waged intellectual war on environmentalists and Malthusians, died suddenly on Sunday.

He would have been 66 tomorrow, the day of his funeral.

Simon could sometimes glow like an exposed wire, crackling with nervous intellectual intensity.

Privately, he had a soul of purest honey.

But by force of will, fueled by his sizzling energy, Simon helped push a generation of Americans to rethink their views on population, resources and the environment.

By now it is clear that in this task he was largely successful.

As the years roll on he will be more successful yet, his work studied, and picked at, by regiments of graduate students.

His keystone work was “The Ultimate Resource,” published in 1981 and updated in 1996 as “The Ultimate Resource 2” (Princeton University Press).

Its central point is clear: Supplies of natural resources are not finite in any serious way; they are created by the intellect of man, an always renewable resource.

Coal, oil and uranium were not resources at all until mixed well with human intellect.

The notion drove some environmentalists crazy.

If it were true, poof! – there went so many of the crises that justified their existence.

From their air-conditioned offices in high-rise buildings, they brayed: Simon believes in a technological fix!

The attacks often got personal: Simon’s doctorate was in business economics, they sniffed; he had merely been a professor of advertising and marketing, and – get this – he had actually started a mail-order business and written a book about how to do it.

Never mind that he also studied population economics for a quarter century.

In fact, it was Simon’s knowledge of real-world commerce that gave him an edge in the intellectual wars.

He knew firsthand about some things that many environmentalists had only touched gingerly, like prices.

If the real resource was the human intellect, Simon reasoned, and the amount of human intellect was increasing, both quantitatively through population growth and qualitatively through education, then the supply of resources would grow, outrunning demand, pushing prices down and giving people more access to what they wanted, with more than enough left over to deal with pollution and congestion.

In short, mankind faced the very opposite of a crisis.

Simon rarely presented a sentence not supported by facts – facts arranged in serried ranks to confront the opposition; facts about forests and food, pollution and poverty, nuclear power and nonrenewable resources; facts used as foot soldiers to strike blows for accuracy.

In a famous bet, gloom-meister Paul Ehrlich took up Simon’s challenge and wagered that between 1980 and 1990 scarcity would drive resource prices up.

Simon bet that progress would push prices down.

Simon won the bet, easily.

Mr. Ehrlich won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.

But the wheel turns, and we’ll see who’s a genius.

Fortune magazine listed Simon among “the world’s most stimulating thinkers.”

Mr. Ehrlich didn’t make the cut.

Simon sensed the primacy of something else that many environmentalists and crisis-mongers didn’t catch on to for a quite a time: Human intellect could best be transformed into beneficial goods and services in an atmosphere of political and economic liberty.

At the United Nations’ Mexico City population conference in 1984 Simon winced, and counterattacked, when population alarmists caricatured the Reagan-appointed American delegation as promoting the idea that “capitalism is the best contraceptive.”

It was not a good idea to ridicule capitalism, or free markets, or human liberty, in Simon’s presence.

Of course, rising living standards do tend to depress fertility.

Living standards do rise faster under democratic market systems.

Smart folks now know that the fruits of economic growth can be used to diminish pollution.

You don’t hear much anymore about how we’re running out of everything.

(Next task: Simonize the Global Warmists.)

Finally, unlike many of his opponents, Julian was a traditionalist.

He did not work on the Sabbath, and the Friday Sabbath dinner at the Simon house was always a gentle and joyous celebration.

At rest on the Sabbath, Julian was indefatigable the rest of the week, chasing his precious facts.

If Thomas Malthus is in heaven, he’s in for an argument, laced with facts, facts, facts.

New York Times Obituary “Julian Simon, 65, Optimistic Economist, Dies” by Kenneth Gilpin, February 12, 1998

Julian L. Simon, an economist and professor who spent much of his professional life taking on scientists, demographers and other academics who argued that mankind was stretching the resources of the earth to the breaking point, died at his home in Chevy Chase, Md., on Sunday.

The cause of death was a heart attack, his son, David, said.

Mr. Simon was 65.

At the time of his death, Mr. Simon was a professor of business administration at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a conservative Washington research organization.

And his views, generally optimistic about the benefits humans bring to the planet and about man’s prospects for the future, were widely debated.

The essence of Mr. Simon’s view of man and the future is contained in two predictions for the next century and any century thereafter that are in ”The State of Humanity,” a book he edited for the Cato Institute.

”First,” he wrote, ”humanity’s condition will improve in just about every material way."

"Second, humans will continue to sit around complaining about everything getting worse.”

He argued that mankind would rise to any challenges and problems by devising new technologies to not only cope, but thrive.

”Whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster,” he said in a profile published in Wired magazine last year.

Mr. Simon’s views were widely contested by a large coterie of the academic and scientific community, many of whose members believe that more people create more problems, straining the earth and its resources in the process.

”Most biologists and ecologists look at population growth in terms of the carrying capacity of natural systems,” said Lester R. Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute in Washington.

”Julian was not handicapped by being either."

"As an economist, he could see population growth in a much more optimistic light.”

In 1980, for example, Mr. Simon and Herman Kahn, the futurist, headed a panel organized by the conservative Heritage Foundation that took sharp issue with findings of the Global 2000 Report, a study issued by the Carter Administration.

Among other things, the report said that ”if present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now.”

At the time Mr. Simon was an economics professor at the University of Illinois.

But he had been researching and writing about the positive effects of population growth since 1965, when he saw a headline in The New York Times warning of a population doomsday.

”Fortunately for this planet,” Mr. Simon said in response to the Global 2000 Report, ”these gloomy assertions about resources and environment are baseless.”

Mr. Simon’s sunny view of the future became the basis for a highly publicized bet in 1980 with Paul R. Ehrlich, the Stanford University ecologist whose 1968 book, ”The Population Bomb,” predicted that one-fifth of humanity would starve to death by 1985.

Mr. Ehrlich and two colleagues from the University of California at Berkeley were piqued by an article Mr. Simon wrote for Science magazine titled ”Resources, Population, Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News.”

They responded to a challenge by Mr. Simon to Malthusians that the price of any natural resource would be lower by a mutually agreed-upon date, not higher.

Mr. Ehrlich and his colleagues took the bet on the belief that rising demand for raw materials by an exploding global populace would pare supplies of nonrenewable resources, driving up prices.

Mr. Ehrlich said he had accepted Mr. Simon’s ”astonishing offer before other greedy people jump in.”

The Ehrlich group bet $1,000 on five metals — chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten — in quantities that each cost $200 in October 1980, when the bet was made.

Mr. Simon agreed that he would sell the agreed-upon quantities of the metals to the Ehrlich group 10 years later at 1980 prices.

If the combined prices of acquiring the metals in 1990 turned out to be higher than $1,000, Mr. Simon would pay the difference in cash.

If prices fell, the Ehrlich group would pay him.

During the decade, the world’s population grew by more than 800 million, the greatest increase in history, and the store of metals did not get any larger.

Yet in the fall of 1990, with the prices of the metals down sharply, Mr. Ehrlich mailed Mr. Simon a check for $576.07.

Mr. Simon wrote back a thank you note, along with a challenge to raise the wager to as much as $20,000, tied to any other resources and to any other year in the future.

Mr. Ehrlich declined to take him up on the new offer.

Born in Newark, Mr. Simon studied psychology as an undergraduate at Harvard University, then earned an M.B.A. and a doctorate in business economics at the University of Chicago.

He joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1963.

Much of his early work was in mail order marketing — his book on the topic, ”How to Start and Operate a Mail Order Business,” sold more books than any he wrote subsequently.

But his attention turned to population questions after he heard the grim predictions about an overpopulated planet.

Despite his optimism about the future of mankind, Mr. Simon was given to personal bouts of depression.

As a form of therapy he wrote a book on the subject, ”Good Mood: The New Psychology for Overcoming Depression.”

An active lecturer, Mr. Simon’s view of the world and man’s possibilities never wavered.

”He believed that the world needs problems because they make us better,” said Robert L. Bradley Jr., president of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston.

”Problems make us better off than if they had never occurred.”

Mr. Simon is survived by his wife, Rita James Simon of Chevy Chase; three children, David M. Simon of Chicago, Judith Simon Garret of Vienna, Va., and Daniel H. Simon of Laurel, Md., and one grandchild.

https://www.masterresource.org/simon-ju ... -19321998/

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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:40 p

Olivier Pauluis research page

Atmospheric heat engine - Why does the atmosphere move?

This seemingly naive question is not as simple to answer as one may think.

First, it is not obvious that it should move at all.

Most physical systems left on their own device reach a state of rest after a while.

Take a glass of water.

After you stir it, the water may move for some time, but it will settle later on.

The physical principle at hand here is the Second Law of Thermodynamics (sorry for caps, but that’s one of the Big One in physics…).

The full formulation of the second law is a bit complex, but one of its implications is than an isolated physical system – meaning here a system that does not exchange mass or energy with its environment – an isolated system will reach a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, where, in effect, nothing interesting happens.

The Earth’s atmosphere however it is not isolated but continuously receives energy in the form of short wave radiation from the Sun and looses energy through the emission of infrared radiation to space.

Importantly, the energy from the Sun is primarily absorbed near the surface and in the tropics – at fairly warm temperature.

In contrast, the emission of infrared radiation takes place in the upper troposphere, at fairly low temperature.

This sets up a situation where the atmosphere acts a heat engine that can generate kinetic energy by transporting the energy from a warm source to a cold sink.

In effect, warm air rises, cold air sinks, and wind is generated.


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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:40 p


"Climate Town Hall: Several Democratic Candidates Embrace a Carbon Tax"

Coral Davenport and Trip Gabriel


WASHINGTON — Democratic candidates promised unprecedented new action on climate change on Wednesday night in the first prime-time televised forum devoted to the issue in a presidential campaign, vowing to undo the Trump administration’s environmental policies, spend trillions of dollars to promote renewable energy and force companies to pay new taxes or fees.

In perhaps the most significant development of the night, more than half of the 10 candidates at the forum openly embraced the controversial idea of putting a tax or fee on carbon dioxide pollution, the one policy that most environmental economists agree is the most effective way to cut emissions — but also one that has drawn intense political opposition.

Around the country and the world, opponents have attacked it as an “energy tax” that could raise fuel costs, and it has been considered politically toxic in Washington for nearly a decade.

Nearly all of the candidates have called for rejoining the Paris climate change agreement, which commits nearly every country on earth to lowering emissions, and for implementing policies that will put the nation on track to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

While the candidates appeared in back-to-back interviews, it was a former presidential hopeful, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who dominated the event in an unusual way.

He made climate change the singular focus of his campaign before dropping out of the race last month, only to see several of the current candidates echo his ambitious proposals in their climate plans and at Wednesday’s forum on CNN.

“You may remember Gov. Jay Inslee said, ‘Let’s get tough on this,’” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as she laid out a new plan that she said had been influenced by her former rival.

In addition to proposing $3 trillion in spending on environmental initiatives, Ms. Warren also responded “Yes!” when asked by a moderator, Chris Cuomo, if she would support a carbon tax — a measure she had not spelled out in her official policy proposal.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has not explicitly taken up Mr. Inslee’s ideas, said, “We are proposing the largest, most comprehensive program ever presented by any candidate in the history of the United States.”

Mr. Sanders has sought to win over the liberal wing of the Democratic Party with a plan that takes its name from the Green New Deal and has the biggest price tag of all the candidates’ proposals — $16.3 trillion over 15 years.

He is one of the few candidates who has not called for a carbon tax, however.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., whose team called Mr. Inslee’s staff earlier this week to set up a time to talk about policy ideas, and whose official policy plan does call for a carbon price, sought to position himself as a seasoned international leader on an issue that is fundamentally global in scope.

While the United States is the world’s largest historic polluter of greenhouse gases, it today produces about 15 percent of total global emissions, and experts have said it is impossible to solve climate change without international curbs on emissions.

In the Group of 7, “I know almost every one of those world leaders,” Mr. Biden said, adding, “If I was present today, I would be — there would be no empty chair,” referring to a recent gathering at which Mr. Trump skipped a meeting on climate change.

“I would be talking to the president of Brazil and saying, ‘Enough is enough,’” Mr. Biden said, evidently referring to the deforestation policies of Jair Bolsonaro, which environmentalists say have contributed to the wildfires now destroying the Amazon rainforest.

Senator Kamala Harris of California, who on Wednesday morning released a plan to put a price on carbon, used the debate stage to take a page straight out of Mr. Inslee’s playbook.

She pledged to enact aggressive environmental policies that just a few years ago were voiced only by the most left-wing candidates — calling for outright bans on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas, and on offshore oil and gas drilling.

“This is an existential threat to who we are,” she said of climate change.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., who also released his climate plan on Wednesday, took the stage declaring his support for a carbon tax, adding, “I know that you’re not supposed use the T-word in politics.”

Policy analysts said they were struck by the sudden widespread embrace of carbon pricing, while Republicans said they welcomed it.

“Economists widely agree that an economywide price on carbon is the single most important policy for tackling climate change,” Richard Newell, president of Resources for the Future, a Washington research organization, said in an email.

But he added: “It wasn’t clear that long ago whether supporters of a Green New Deal would view a price on carbon as being an important, or even acceptable, approach to achieving its principles."

"That test has clearly come down in favor of a carbon price within the Democratic primary process.”

The broad support for putting a price or tax on carbon dioxide is a remarkable change since the 2016 campaign, when Hillary Clinton steered clear of embracing a price on carbon pollution, for fear that it would be attacked as an energy tax.

“It’s a good policy to adopt if you want to lose an election,” said Myron Ebell, who heads the energy program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry-funded research organization, and who led the Trump administration’s transition at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The town hall-style forum on CNN was a response to intense interest in climate change among many Democrats.

The event followed a decision by the Democratic National Committee not to sanction a debate devoted to the subject, frustrating activists and some candidates.

And it came as the National Hurricane Center warned that Hurricane Dorian, which has caused widespread devastation in the Bahamas, could cause a life-threatening storm surge along most of the southeast Atlantic coast.

Scientific research has shown that climate change has contributed to the worsening of hurricane impacts, by causing stronger, slower-moving hurricanes with larger storm surges.

A prime-time discussion about climate change was “20 years overdue,” Mr. Inslee said in an interview on Wednesday, adding, “I think we should attack Donald Trump on his weakest point, which is the environment, and this will help us identify our strongest candidate.”

Jeff Nesbit, executive director of Climate Nexus, a group focused on communicating the climate threat, said the forum reflected pent-up demand by a portion of the Democratic base to see global warming discussed in depth.

Voters want “more than a scant, few minutes from TV news stars moderating general debates who ask questions like ‘Can Miami be saved?’ or ‘So, what’s wrong with the Green New Deal?’” he said.

But the seven-hour-long format may have challenged viewers’ stamina and frustrated those seeking clear contrasts between the candidates.

The parade of far-reaching plans on display, ranging in cost from $1.7 trillion to $16.3 trillion, also elicited Republican attacks.

President Trump and his allies, who have sought to roll back Obama-era limits on planet-warming emissions, have been attacking the Democratic field as “socialists.”

On Wednesday, the administration rolled back rules on energy-saving light bulbs.

“The Democrats’ radical approach to energy is to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels, which would kill more than 10 million jobs and inflict economic catastrophe across the country,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for President Trump’s re-election campaign.

Yet Democrats nonetheless appeared eager to demonstrate their willingness to attack the fossil fuel industry.

Ms. Harris’s pledge to ban fracking, the controversial method of extracting oil and gas used across the country, would be an aggressive new check on the fossil fuel industry, one that was never proposed by President Barack Obama or by Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Biden has not pushed to ban fracking, but he has signed a pledge not to take money from fossil fuel interests.

He appeared taken aback by an audience question about his plans to attend a fund-raiser on Thursday co-hosted by Andrew Goldman, a co-founder of Western LNG, a Houston-based energy company that extracts and exports natural gas.

“Well, I didn’t realize he does that,” said Mr. Biden.

“I was told, if you look at the S.E.C. filings, he’s not listed as one of those executives.”

He later added, “But if that turns out to be true, then I will not in any way accept his help.”

Two other candidates who said they would support carbon pricing, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and the former housing secretary Julián Castro, said they would not call for outright bans on fracking.

But both said they supported limiting the use of natural gas.

Mr. Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, said that in that job, he supported fracking for natural gas as a “bridge fuel” designed to take the economy to cleaner forms of power.

“We’re now getting to the end of that bridge,” he said.

Amid the parade of sweeping environmental and spending proposals, two candidates — Ms. Harris and Mr. Sanders — acknowledged the largest problem in enacting them: pushing them through a Congress that has failed to enact climate change legislation even when both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

In order to push her proposals through Capitol Hill, Ms. Harris called for another signature proposal of Mr. Inslee’s: ending the Senate filibuster, a century-old legislative institution, in order to overcome Republican opposition and push through new climate change laws.

Mr. Obama also sought to enact a sweeping climate bill that would have effectively placed a tax on carbon pollution, but it failed even when both chambers of Congress were controlled by Democrats because it could not overcome the 60-vote threshold required by the Senate’s filibuster rule in order to advance a bill through the chamber.

Mr. Inslee has called for abolishing the Senate filibuster — a move that would transform the way laws are made in the United States.

Most of the presidential candidates have avoided calling for such a move, but analysts say that without it, their bold climate change plans — especially their calls for lavish spending — will remain unrealized.

But abolishing the filibuster could also make laws vulnerable to quickly being undone by a new Senate majority, leading to an unstable whipsaw effect as laws are signed by one president and quickly undone by another.

Mr. Sanders acknowledged the political hurdle of pushing aggressive climate change policy through the Senate, but has not backed eliminating the filibuster.

Instead, he proposed pushing climate change policy into must-pass budget legislation, which under Senate rules requires a simple 51-vote majority to pass.

Democrats used the same method to push through Mr. Obama’s sweeping 2010 health care reform bill.

Coral Davenport reported from Washington, and Trip Gabriel from New York. Lisa Friedman contributed reporting from New York.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/ ... 7Kz#page=2

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