Author Ronald Bailey Responds

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First, I want to thank all three reviewers for taking the time and spending the intellectual energy to engage seriously with my new book.  In general, I think that both Darwall and Easterbrook fairly characterize and explain its contents and goals. Pielke has some reservations. 

For the most part, Pielke agrees with me, admitting that he is “quite sympathetic to critiques of apocalypse around the corner.” He is impatient with my chronicling of environmentalist doomsaying over the past several decades, but he should remember that the more than 200 million of his fellow citizens who are younger than he is (46) do not know the sorry ideological history of Neo-Malthusianism. As philosopher George Santayana reminded us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” By reminding readers of the past, I hope to spare future generations from being duped by doom dogmas. I suspect that even Pielke would agree that that is a worthy aim.

Pielke further objects that I give Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution too much credit for forestalling the world-spanning famines widely predicted to occur in the 1970s. It bears noting that in 1970, the chairman of the Nobel committee explained why it had chosen Mr. Borlaug for its Peace Prize in this way: "More than any other single person of this age, [he] has helped to provide bread for a hungry world.” With regard to Nick Cullather’s historical revisionism: Revisionists must revise. That’s what they do. By the way, India’s wheat harvest jumped 45 percent in 1968.

I certainly agree with Pielke that securing a “bright future for people and the planet” is “by no means simple or guaranteed.” I do explain in some detail how the technological progress and wealth generated by democratic free-market capitalism makes environmental renewal in this century possible. While Pielke strikes a world-weary pose of intellectual ennui over a supposedly “stale” debate, he oddly fails to mention that there is between me and the Neo-Malthusians one big difference: My predictions have consistently proven right and theirs wrong.   

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