A loooong long time ago, I published a zine. Like, a decade long time ago.
I was big into environmental issues and population control controversies at the time. I got annoyed by some of the malthusian fearmongering that was going on: I don’t dispute that there are regional overcrowding issues and famines, but I just disagree with the idea that humanity as a whole is on some sort of crash course with overpopulation doomsday.
So I wrote up and article about it in my zine. Ran some basic numbers. Take the UN’s pessimistic population projections for the next 20 years and give everyone on the planet their own suburban lot to live on… the entire population of the planet would fit in Texas. Things like that. It doesn’t explain every problem, but it does poke at some of the basic ‘give it five years and we’ll be stacked on each other like cordwood’ talk.
Now, I was 12 at the time, maybe 13.
So an uncle of mine – a biologist – gets a copy of this zine in his hands and writes a flaming letter to me about how ignorant i am of population projections and so on.
So I decided I needed someone to write a rebuttal.
I tracked down some guy who’d apparently written a lot of articles on the topic and called him to explain the situation. As it turns out, he was willing to write up a rebuttal and fax me the details to publish in said ‘zine.
It seemed like a pretty simple arrangement.
Later – and by later I mean years, years, years later, long after I’d stopped publishing the zine and moved on to other webbier things – I came across this guy’s name again. apparently, he’d passed away and someone noticed.
Like the Economist. And Wired. And the Wall Street Journal.
As it turns out, Julian Simon was a world-renown environmental skeptic, known for challenging pessimistic population and resource projections with lots and LOTS of hard data and a sharp wit. I just thought he was a guy willing to help out a kid with a mad biologist on his tail!