Summary of The Bet
Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future
A debate over environmentalism helped shape America’s political and economic history.
In this lively discussion, professor Paul Sabin reviews the last half-century of America’s environmental debate and the partisan politics surrounding it. His lens is a famous bet between biologist Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon, both major figures in the environmental discussion. Ehrlich, who helped shape its early phase, is especially prominent, but each man came to represent a different political position in the debate. Sabin covers the ground dramatically, demonstrating the importance of context and rhetoric in any major public debate. If the book has a weakness, it’s that Sabin’s focus can seem, like the bet itself, to devolve to a great-man model of history. getAbstract recommends this unusual exploration to those interested in environmentalism, politics, free market ideology, US history and, of course, the future of the planet.
In this summary, you will learn
- What the famous bet between biologist Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon signified,
- How this bet sums up the history of the US environmental debate, and
- What lessons arose from the two men’s wager and long-running discussion.
About the Author
Paul Sabin, associate professor of history at Yale University, is founding director of the Environmental Leadership Program. He also wrote Crude Politics: The California Oil Market, 1900-1940.
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