Paul Ehrlich at OSU

sk and I went to see Paul Ehrlich speak tonight at OSU. He's the Professor of Population Studies at Stanford. His latest book is One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future. (Nineveh refers to the capitol of the ancient Assyrian empire that once existed in what is now Iraq.) He covered some fairly depressing topics—everything from the threat of nuclear annihilation to the threat of a mutant flu. He talked about the terrible inequity in the world (3 billion live on $2/day or less) as a root cause of many problems, and of course he's not happy with the direction the country is currently heading. Among many other criticisms, Ehrlich said the doctrine of preemptive strike sets a very dangerous precedent in a nuclear age. But it wasn't all doom and gloom. He had some hopeful things to say and reminded everyone that change can happen very quickly. Equal rights for African Americans, for example, took huge leaps forward in just a matter of decades after being horrible for hundreds of years. Because of successes like this, he said idealism is realism. I enjoyed his talk, though it wasn't easy to hear his view of the big picture.

Update: Here's an article about the talk in the local paper, Scientist: World population a growing problem.