Getting Better Part 2: Scarcity or Abundance?

Why have so many past predictions and forecasts about resources, health, wealth, and well-being turned out to be excessively pessimistic? In the second part of his “Getting Better” series, Max More details the errors of pessimists as exemplified by ecologist Paul Ehrlich. We can learn from historical fears such as the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894. The logic behind that fear is like that behind many recent supposed crises.

Max looks at a famous bet between Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon and extracts some lessons from it. Shots fired by Ehrlich sympathizers largely miss their target but examining the claims leads to a better understanding of how best to measure improvements in living standards. He looks at other badly failed pessimistic predictions and asks what is wrong with excessive pessimism.

He concludes with a look at the Simon Abundance Index, which measures the change in abundance of resources over a period. This shows that the Earth was 6.18 times as plentiful in 2018 as it was when Ehrlich and Simon commenced their wager. Find “Scarcity or Abundance?” starting on page 3 of the third quarter 2021 issue of Cryonics magazine.