I loved the mention of Julian Simon in the Week (May 18). However, as the quotation below from the Wikipedia article on The Ultimate Resource — Simon’s 1981 opus — shows, “the ‘ultimate resource’” is not, as NR’s editors wrote, “unforeseeable technological advancements,” nor “any particular physical object,” but rather “the capacity for humans to invent and adapt,” inexorably leading to the “unforeseeable technological advancements” that the Ehrlich fans had failed to consider. Another reason to welcome each and every birth.
Wikipedia: “The overarching thesis on why there is no resource crisis is that as a particular resource becomes more scarce, its price rises. This price rise creates an incentive for people to discover more of the resource, ration and recycle it, and eventually, develop substitutes. The ‘ultimate resource’ is not any particular physical object but the capacity for humans to invent and adapt.”
David W. Holmes
Blue Ash, Ohio
The Editors respond: We agree, but we think “unforeseeable technological advancements” can refer to the capacity to invent and adapt, and not just to the physical result. There had to be a technological advance in Edison’s head before he made a lightbulb.
“The Code and the Key” (David Mamet, June 1) said that Nebuchadnezzar sees the writing on the wall in Daniel 5. It is Belshazzar who sees the writing.
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