First Jimmy Carter makes a resurgence in the editorial pages for his prescient thinking, now Jeremy Rifkin gets his turn to remind us of what he wrote several decades ago -- without rubbing it in at all. And if the pundits and right wingers do get started on his case (according to Time Magazine, "the most hated man in science"), let's remind them of his relative accuracy along the timeline of history.
U.S. lower-48 oil production -- year 0 to 2005 A.D.
See the 1970's there? That includes disco, Nixon, pet rocks, punk rocks, the all-time best movies, and Carter and Rifkin and Erhlich. And Erhlich's chief critic back then, Julian Simon, remains a footnote in history.
Today, many of Julian Simon’s views on population and natural resources are so triumphant that they are almost mainstream. No one can rationally look at the evidence today and still claim, for example, that we are running out of food or energy. But those who did not know Julian or of his writings in the 1970s and early 1980s cannot fully appreciate how viciously he was attacked—from both the left and the right. Paul Ehrlich once snarled that Simon’s writings proved that "the one thing the earth will never run out of is imbeciles." A famous professor at the University of Wisconsin wrote, "Julian Simon could be dismissed as a simpleminded nut case, if his ideas weren’t so dangerous."
To this day I remain convinced that the endless ad hominem attacks were a result of the fact that—try as they would—Simon’s critics never once succeeded in puncturing holes in his data or his theories. What ultimately vindicated his theories was that the doomsayers’ predictions of global famine, $100 a barrel oil, nuclear winter, catastrophic depletion of the ozone layer, falling living standards, and so on were all discredited by events. For example, the year 2000 is almost upon us, and we can now see that the direction in which virtually every trend of human welfare has moved has been precisely the opposite of that predicted by Global 2000. By now Simon and Kahn’s contrarian conclusions in The Resourceful Earth look amazingly prescient.
Thanks to Big Gav for the link.