Ehrlich: The scholar looks the planet, and humanity, in the face

March 17, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Paul Ehrlich for this interview with him in the Los Angeles Times.  See http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-morrison-ehrlich-021211,0,413002.column

Patt Morrison Asks

Paul R. Ehrlich: Saving Earth

The scholar looks the planet, and humanity, in the face.

Patt Morrison

February 12, 2011

For a scholar who traffics in some of the more dispiriting elements of modern biology, ecology and demographics, Paul R. Ehrlich is a remarkably funny guy. His caption for this picture? “A living Neanderthal” contemplating the skull (a replica) of an extinct one. Maybe his humor is a coping mechanism for the parlous state of the planet; maybe it’s the result of more than 50 years as a Stanford University researcher, professor and author.

However you draw the map of this melting, freezing world, Ehrlich is on it. He got there in 1968, with the sizzlingly, and to Ehrlich’s mind now, regrettably titled book “The Population Bomb.” It is replete with “ifs” and “whens” about the catastrophic collision of population versus resources, some of which have come to pass and some of which haven’t — yet. On that score, Ehrlich is as gleeful at attacking his critics as they are at going after him.

In his latest book, “Humanity on a Tightrope,” coauthored with Robert E. Ornstein, the tightrope could still turn into a lifeline if humans choose the right balance. Before he’s off to Costa Rica to pursue his first academic love, butterflies, he’s looking the planet, and humanity, in the face.

One thing I draw from your new book is that you’re now calling on individuals to do what institutions have failed to when it comes to saving the planet and ourselves.

That’s part of it. We now know more than enough about what the hell is wrong with the world. The climate, the toxification of the planet, the epidemiological environment, the chances of plague, losing biodiversity, the rate of extinction of species — and we’re doing nothing about it. We’ve had 10 failures now on international attempts to do something about climate change. If we don’t figure out how to change human behavior toward sustainability, we’re basically … screwed, I think is the technical term.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-morrison-ehrlich-021211,0,413002.column


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