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Episode 508: A Bet On The Future Of Humanity

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Episode 508: A Bet On The Future Of Humanity

Podcast

Episode 508: A Bet On The Future Of Humanity

Episode 508: A Bet On The Future Of Humanity

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/260761433/260788035" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Overcrowded group
James Cridland/Flickr

A famous biologist predicts overpopulation will lead to global catastrophe. He writes a bestselling book and goes on the Tonight Show to make his case.

An economist disagrees. He thinks the biologist isn't accounting for how clever people can be, and how shortages can lead to new, more efficient ways of doing things.

So the economist, Julian Simon, challenges the biologist, Paul Ehrlich, to a very public, very acrimonious, decade-long bet. On today's show: The story of that bet, and the ugly precedent it set.

For more, see The Bet, by Yale historian Paul Sabin. We talk to Sabin on today's show.

Music: Lorde's "A World Alone" and Imagine Dragons's "Nothing Left To Say / Rocks." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify/ Tumblr. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.