Green Festival Speakers

Chris Hayes



Since 2002, Christopher Hayes has been reporting and writing for a wide variety of independent publications. He regularly covers issues related to politics, labor, criminal justice, the environment and community development. His essays, reviews and feature articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including In These Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and the Chicago Reader. He is currently a Senior Editor at In These Times, a Contributing Writer at the Nation and a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.

In 1968, when a little known biologist named Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, his argument that humans would soon breed themselves into a grave environmental crisis captured the zeitgeist. Twelve years later, a libertarian economist named Julian Simon proposed a wager with Ehrlich, daring him to put his money where his mouth was. Simon was an economist and the leading proponent of a view of resources that dominated the discipline, namely, that resources were an economic problem, not a physical one and that incentives and technology would ensure bounty for humans as far as the eye could see. Simon challenged Ehrlich to pick five commodities, with Simon betting that better extraction technology would lead to their prices going down, while Ehrlich predicting that increased human demand and scarcity would lead to their prices going up. Ten years later, the price of all the commodities had, indeed, declined, and Ehrlich mailed Simon a check. The wager is often invoked to bolster the economists view of resources and rebut the ecologists view. But now with global warming, and the possibility of peak oil, it's time to revisit Ehrlich and Simon's views and ask the question: Was Ehrlich right after all?