July 11, 2009

Julian Simon and the 'Limits to Growth' Neo-Malthusianism

  • Paul Dragos Aligica

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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By the time of his death in 1998 at age 65, Julian Simon had already established for himself the reputation of "doomslayer", "one of those people who took on the thankless task of talking sense on a subject where nonsense is all the rage" and of a man "set out to explain what happened in the real world, not what happens in abstract models or popular hysteria" (Sowell, 1998). His crusade against the conventional wisdom was featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe and he was considered the man who "thoroughly and often single-handedly capsized the prevailing Malthusian orthodoxy" by routing "nearly every prominent environmental scaremonger of our time" and by reframing "the central debate of our time: whether people are good for our planet or not" (Moore, 1998). Whether one agrees with his views or not, an overview of his key arguments is an important step towards a clearer understanding  of the intellectual history and significance of one of the most salient and sensitive themes emerging on the public agenda during the second half of the 20th century.

Read the article at the Elecronic Journal of Sustainable Development.

Citation (Chicago Style): Aligica, Paul Dragos. "Julian Simon and the "Limits to Growth" Neo-Malthusianism." Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 1, no. 3 (Summer 2009): 49-60.