MALTHUSIANS AND PHYSICISTS; CORNUCOPIANS AND ECONOMISTS. The Limits to Growth model goes back to Malthus. Over the last 40 years, the model has been a focus of a lot of the arguments between Malthusians and what the Economist has called “Cornucopians”. I posted, for example here, about some of the disputes. That post told about how Paul Ehrlich had published THE POPULATION BOMB in 1968, four years before the Limits to Growth model was published. Ehrlich predicted that with population growing and food and resources limited, there would be mass famines with hundreds of millions of people starving to death in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Julian Simon, an economist, made a famous bet with Ehrlich in 1980 that the prices of five commodities, which Ehrlich could select, would be lower in 1990 than in 1980. Simon won all five bets. The controversy has continued, as reflected in the essay by the Exponential Economist. Whenever oil prices rise, there are a lot of articles about “peak oil”—the theory that oil production is going to decline very soon. I say “very soon” because it is plausible that at some point far enough in the future most fossil fuels will have been extracted. I think that the Cornucopians would argue that it will be hundreds of years before that happens.

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