If you are concerned with overpopulation, you may have noticed that The Bet is back in the news. The Bet involved Paul Ehrlich who, for those of you too young to remember, was the Stanford biologist who scared the bejeezus out of us on TV in the late 1960s (and in his best-seller, The Population Bomb). Channeling Robert Malthus, Ehrlich insisted that out-of-control population growth had already sealed the fate of tens of millions who would soon starve, no matter what we did. (His moment of Malthusian inspiration came from an uncomfortable taxi ride in Delhi — which he completely misinterpreted). Ehrlich’s most vocal critic was free-market economist Julian Simon, who claimed population growth to be a driver of economic expansion which overall benefited the masses instead of dooming them.
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