Revolution

Julian Simon's Winning Bet

Economist Julian Simon wrote The Ultimate Resource in the late 1970s in response to a wave of false environmental pessimism arising from the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth. Simon presented evidence that natural resources are getting less scarce, the world's food supply is improving, pollution in the richer countries is decreasing and population growth is evidence of economic success.

In October 1980, Simon challenged famous environmental doomster Paul Ehrlich and colleagues to a $1,000 bet that in ten years the price of any raw material they selected would fall (measured in constant 1980 dollars).

In October 1991, Ehrlich paid up. The prices of the five minerals chosen (copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten) had dropped substantially. Simon wanted to renew his bet, upping the ante to $20,000, but the ecologists were not interested.