I didn't stand up one day and say “My God, I'm going to get everybody to stop procreating.” It's sort of one thing led to another.
— Prof. Paul Ehrlich
Lee Altenberg: Professor Ehrlich, before I start asking you about all sorts of facts on the dangers to the environment, and what I should do about it, I need to have answered in my mind the question, “Why should I, in particular, worry about the environment in particular?” There are a lot of other things I could be doing, and other people working to preserve the environment.
Paul Ehrlich: Of course the reason I'm worried about the environment is that like other ecologists, I understand that the environment is what supports our lives; if it goes down the tubes, we go down the tubes with it. I am continually appalled at listening to economists say ridiculous things like, “We now have to ignore the environment for a while and concentrate on the economic system,” and this, as Herman Daly recently showed in a very nice article, is just an example of the utter failure of economists to understand how the world works. And so if you understand how the world works, you're concerned about the environment; if you don't, then you're somebody like Mr. Watt or Mr. Reagan and a danger to society.
LA: In an interview with Barry Commoner on a Los Angeles TV station during his Presidential campaign, the newswoman asked him, “The Citizen's Party has a very strong environmentalist platform. Isn't environmentalism out of fashion now?” His replied that with LA's smog, he certainly hoped it wasn't out of fashion there. How much do you believe that people place the environment in their mind as just another political subject, like busing or taxes?
Ehrlich: I think it's of higher importance than many people believe and more constant. In other words, people seem to remain concerned now about the environment even though jobs may take over as the big issue for the moment, and two or three years ago it may have been the weakness of the dollar, and a couple of years before that it may have been, is there going to be enough gasoline in their automobile? The environment never seems to be the number one concern, although if people knew how to do the analysis right they would understand that environmental issues are intertwined in all of the major issues: nuclear war, energy supply and use, jobs, along with the economy— why it's not going to get better, and so on.
LA: A number of students here from ethnic minorities have expressed to me the feeling that environmental problems are a luxury issue compared to problems of social justice.
Ehrlich: Again, you can't sort the two out. Environmental issues are really much more critical for people in minority groups, because they're the ones, for instance, who are forced to live down wind of the power plants— the rich upwind get the power. They are the ones who will suffer first when the food shortages grow. In fact they are the ones that will be in general the major sufferers, and are the major suffers from environmental problems, until of course you get to the point where the problems are so insurmountable that society basically collapses. The idea that it is a luxury position is exactly wrong; it has to be a much greater concern among minorities because they can't afford to move to the cleanest air to try and stay ahead of all of the problems of the environment. It's not that the rich can avoid them totally; but when they get environmentally induced diseases they can afford to have them treated. It is a standard mistake to think of environmental concerns to be equivalent to just concern for trout streams. It is clear that some “environmentalist” are only thinking about the environment in terms of cozy
surroundings for them and their hobbies. That's part of it but that's only a minor part of it; the basics of the environmental movement must be to understand that the ecosystems of this planet support our lives and we are busily destroying them and when we've completed the job we'll be gone too.
LA: How much do you believe that the environmental problem is one of people not believing that the environment is in danger, how much is people believing but not caring, and how much is people believing, caring, but being unable to change what they're doing?
Ehrlich: I think the major part of the problem is just plain education. It's clear that no sensible person, once they knew, would ignore the problems. The sort of things we have going on in the EPA today could not go on if people like Ann Gorsuch and Ronald Reagan and Watt and all were even moderately educated on environmental issues and even had the very most elementary knowledge of what was going on. I don't believe those people are either total morons or totally evil. Therefore the only options that's left is they are profoundly ignorant. And this is common because there are very few places in our society that you can learn anything about the basics of environmental problems. There are very few courses taught on environmental issues with any degree of rigor, there are relatively few people to do the teaching. It's an issue that's relatively new in our society. As you very well know, ecology was a technical field where nobody outside the professionals knew anything at all until what, 1968, fifteen years ago. It's not much time to get people trained at the high school level, college level, and so on, to educate people, and we are in a society that is falling behind in its mathematics and science education anyway, and there are powerful forces that don't want to believe it, in other words, there are people who feel extremely threated by the message that ecology has.
LA: How best can they be eased out of this feeling of threat?
Ehrlich: I think that there is no way in all probability, to convert a Ronald Reagan or a James Watt to a sensible position. What you have to do is start educating younger people and remove dangerous people like that from positions of influence. I think that among adults, on most of the issues people who are alertable are alerted, so the problem becomes one of trying to get to future generations, if there are going to be any...uh, that may not be quite true. If there was some way you could get a hold of the propaganda apparatus of this society, which right now serves those who have the bucks, pure and simple, you might do a lot of educating and convince a lot more people. But in the context of the way the society is running now, there are, I would guess, a third to half of Americans who are deeply concerned about environmental issues even though they don't understand all of them thoroughly— some of them are complex, but basically most of them are fairly simple— and you're not going to go on much beyond that. There's no educating Watt. He thinks the world is going to end in a few years and doesn't care what happens between now and then, and he may be right.
LA: At Stanford now, for example, there is the group Stanford for Environmental Education, which has as its goals the enhancement of environmental awareness of students and faculty here. What can a student group on a small budget do?
Ehrlich: Well, Stanford is a reflection of the society as a whole, and its priorities tend to reflect the priorities of the society as a whole, and environmentalism is I would say in some ways moderately strong at Stanford. The Human Biology program does something in this area and there are groups on campus and so on, but it's far from the forefront and people are, I think, always wrong when they expect universities to take the lead, in this country, in social movements. I mean the most dangerous thing in the world right now is the nuclear arms race, and although many individual faculty members are enormously concerned with it, the Hoover Institute, which is associated with us, is busily trying to push it ever faster. Stanford is not an entirely progressive place; it's a reflection of the society. And so student groups have to work here as groups work anywhere in the society to try and improve it. I don't see anything really different in that than Friends of the Earth working in San Francisco with white collar workers there, or with people trying to organize and get environmental concerns embedded in things like the labor movement in this country and so on. It's all part of the same general trend, and students are not really a special subset in my view.
LA: What would you say are the major contributions of faculty at Stanford to solving environmental problems? And what do you think Stanford's reputation is as a school producing research and publications on the environment?
Ehrlich: I think the Biology Department here has a good reputation, and some parts of the Engineering School, the Values, Technology and Society people. There certainly are spots around campus— Epidemiology in our Medical School is supposed to be very strong. I don't pay an awful lot of attention though, because I don't think Stanford is really better at this or worse at this than any other segment of society. Go to Washington— there are still good people in the EPA, who are quickly being fired. There are a couple of good people left in the Council on Environmental Quality. There are some good people in the National Park Service. In general, the U.S. Government has now shifted toward destroying the environment. Most of the activities that go on at Stanford are not particularly useful from the point of view of the immediate concerns of society, and I'm not sure it should be. A university should have a diversity of views, but above all else, it ought to somehow encourage people to think about things, and that's very important. We probably don't do enough of that, but you have to have some knowledge of what to think about. I think there are all sorts of changes I would make in curricula at Stanford. But what ever I say about Stanford, I think we're one of the very best in the country, but we still have an antique departmental structure, an absolutely preposterous division of disciplines that goes back to the Middle Ages. We have very great difficulty running anything that is truly inter-disciplinary, introducing new ideas. That's because academia is very conservative, and that's good, in a way; the basic educational values in a society ought to be conservative. The only trouble is that we are faced with extraordinarily rapid change. And so you have an institution like Hoover trying to play 1815 politics with the weapons of the last half of the Twentieth Century, and that's a lethal combination, but it's the sort of thing that goes on all over society.
LA: Do you think that the greater encouragement of interdisciplinary majors would be helpful for students to make their education here more suited to the current world situation?
Ehrlich: I would encourage students to put together their own majors, but the thing is, I'd much rather have them learn in college to be confident with math and to read and write properly, to have some basic acquaintance with the hard sciences, that is with physics, chemistry and biology, and with literature and history, and so on. I think we need people who have good fundamental education and let them work on their values in trying to save society elsewhere. I'm not sure courses on how to save society generally are /effective?/. But for instance, what we have managed to do— and I have a lot of knowledge of this because I have close contacts in the field— we for instance have produced an entire generation of economists who don't understand the second law of thermodynamics, and the implications of that to their discipline, and that's like having blind pilots flying your airplane. We are still educating people who are partly illiterate and partly innumerate when they graduate certainly from our highschools, and even from our colleges. You can get a bachelors degree from Stanford, as far as I know, without knowing calculus, without knowing anything at all about physics, and without knowing anything about agriculture. And yet, you can not be a functional human being without knowing those things in today's society. And so if I were aiming at it there would be much more emphasis on the fundamentals— not a lot of courses in “oh my gosh pollution is bad for us”, but “goodness gracious, it is not possible to continually raise cattle by feeding them on their own droppings”— and get people who are ready to do simple calculations to expose some of the idiocy in the world. What we need is people who can think about things, not people who have been brainwashed into knowing that pollution is bad, since most people seem to understand that anyway.
LA: In a sense, then, the change that is needed is fundamental— in the belief of an educated person as to what is important knowledge for functioning in the world; the second law of thermodynamics is not seen today as something everybody should know.
Ehrlich: That's right. And that's one of the reasons that you can have a distinguished economist write in Science magazine, that the only limit to the amount of copper that can be made available to humanity is the weight of the universe. If you have people who don't understand basic physical and biological laws and don't understand how to do arithmetic, then there's no way they can become responsible citizens. It's just impossible. They can't make judgements on the most fundamental questions that our society faces. If they can't read and write and do arithmetic, it doesn't matter what courses they've had, because what they'll be doing is repeating what somebody has drummed into them rather than thinking about things for themselves.
LA: I heard a guy being interviewed on KGO radio, and he was an atomic veteran— he had witnessed some atomic tests— and he was saying they went in there afterwards and drove around right at ground zero and they were fine; there were sheep near there who hadn't been too badly hit, and painting a rather benign picture of atomic weapons. People were calling up saying he was crazy and, what was he trying to say?, and his reply was, “Well, you're entitled to your opinions and I'm entitled to mine.” How much do you think that people believe that...
Ehrlich: everybody's opinion is just as good as everybody else's? Much too much. One of the funniest things that ever happened to me at Stanford was one day, Dick Holm and I were sitting in the coffee room, and a guy came in and he
said, “I hear you people are concerned with the world food problem and shortages of water,” and we said “yeah”. And he said, “I got a plan to solve the water problem of the United States,” and I said “What is it?” and he said, “We're gonna dig a canal to bring the water from the Greenland ice cap to the Southwest.” And I said, “I say it's going be an interesting exercise, because you're going to have to dig that canal through the north Atlantic Ocean.” And he said, “That's your opinion, not mine.” And that's typical. He doesn't think Greenland's an island, it's just a matter of opinion; this economist Simon has the opinion you can make copper in economic quantities out of other metals. Well that's his opinion. The point is, unfortunately, everybody's opinion isn't as good as everybody else's. My opinion on the state of the environment is a million times better than Jim Watt's; he hasn't even begun to think about the things I've forgotten on the subject, and anybody who thinks that Watt's opinion and mine are equivalent is out of his mind, and if I didn't think that I would resign my professorship at Stanford and take up being a gibbering idiot somewhere.
LA: Do you honestly think that people are going to come to a more coherent view of the world?
Ehrlich: Not particularly. The way things are going now, I expect that they'll come to a more and more incoherent view of the world, because as things continue to deteriorate, they will find more and more weird answers to why it's deteriorating. They've turned to movie actors for a President now, who knows what will be next, and astrologer maybe?
LA: As a matter of fact I have a headline here where Moroccans have been ordered to pray for rain by their government to prevent a looming famine.
Ehrlich: Lots of luck.
LA: Yeah. Um...
Ehrlich: You're going to have to let me edit this you understand; we don't want to both be thrown out of this university.
LA: Yeah, fer sherr. Now, one of your colleagues said that you had done what no one in history has been able to do, namely, influence the reproductive behavior of most of the people of the developed world, for when The Population Bomb came out in 1968 it had a significant effect in raising peoples awareness of the dangers of overpopulation, and it asked people to limit their own reproduction to one or two children. So, when you were a college freshman, did you have any idea or intention that you would be influencing the population growth of the world?
Ehrlich: Well, I'm not sure that I have. I may have had some small part of it. But yes, I got interested in these issues when I was a freshman in college. I was reading [?]'s book and Fairfield Osborne and talking in a lot of bull sessions. I went to college sort of with the last group Second World War veterans, and we had a lot of discussions of this kind of issue, and my interest in it has persisted, basically. But I didn't have any idea of whether I'd ever do anything about it, I'm mean that's pure serendipity. My bedroom interests are more one on one.
LA: Was there ever a time when you were not environmentally aware?
Ehrlich: Sure. I guess that my environmental awareness grew with my interest in nature and butterflies when I was a kid, and particularly when I was a kid in New Jersey in high school and then later in college when I saw the subdivisions being put over the places where I used to go collect butterflies, where it became impossible to find food plants to feed caterpillars that weren't soused in DDT, because in those days they were using broadcast DDT— this is before Rachel Carson— and they just were spraying DDT everywhere for mosquitos in New Jersey and so on. So I became aware of those issues quite young, and of course became professionally involved when I went to graduate school.
LA: As a graduate student, you were doing more than just research?
Ehrlich: Well, my first assistantship was working on the development of resistance to DDT in fruit flies. I was very heavily involved in the civil rights movement in Lawrence, Kansas. Another faculty member and I organized the desegregation of the restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas when a visitor who was coming to visit our group turned out to be Black, arrived on a Saturday and couldn't get fed in town till he came and found us on Monday, and we had a very exciting time; we independently invented sit-ins. So I was involved in a lot of different things.
LA: This was what year?
Ehrlich: This would have been '54, '55, something like that. But my real heavy duty professional involvement started when I was a post-doc and Ed Wilson got me involved in a fight against the fire ant, a spray program. After I came to Stanford things sort of moved along because I was teaching an evolution course and I used to lecture for the last few lectures on not where we'd been but where we were going, and students told their parents about it and I started getting invited to alumni groups to talk and things like that, and that led to a talk at the Commonwealth Club in '67 which in turn led to the radio shows, The Population Bomb, and all that sh**. So it was sort of a natural progression. I didn't stand up one day and say “My God, I'm going to get everybody to stop ****ing.” It's sort of one thing led to another.
LA: That's usually the way it is. You don't wake up one day and say gee that would be a good idea.
Ehrlich: That's right, you don't decide, yes were going to go out and do this that and the other thing.
LA: Of all the experiences that a person could have, what do you think is most influential in giving them a passion for involvement in the world beyond their personal lives?
Ehrlich: Well, I don't know. I would think it's just plain interest. What's hard for me to imagine is a person whose total interest is their personal life without trying to understand how the world worked and works. I find it hard to imagine somebody who's not interested in history, who's not interested in biology, who's not interested in politics, who's not interested in physics and so on. As far as I'm concerned, the big limit in your life is there are so
many things to learn about and do and understand and so on and you haven't got enough time. So, it's hard for me to answer that question because that's never been my problem. Again I have to go back to the education system. It too much treats people as, you pour a certain set amount of facts or skills in them and turn them out somewhere, or as education as process that stops, whereas as I think you know, in a department like this, if the faculty isn't spending as much time studying as the students they just fall out. All the professionals that I know in biology that are any good at it have to be continually in a process of education; that's true of any discipline, basically. How you get other people into that mode of having the confidence that they can understand things— because most of the stuff is not that complicated— giving them the basic tools... That's why I keep falling back on the basic tools. I keep seeing the need for understanding very basic science, very basic cultural things.
LA: As witnessed by public events on campus, by student organizations registered, students have changed in their focus over the years. How would you characterize the changes that student awareness of the world around them has gone through in the twenty years you have been at Stanford, and what do you think is behind that and what do you think the consequences will be?
Ehrlich: Well, I think we've seen about one full cycle since I've been here. The major concern when I came was economic— getting in to medical school and so on— then there was the cycle of the Sixties, and the war and the environmental movement and so on, when students became more activist. Then the economic situation deteriorated and it's moved somewhat back toward the immediate concern being, what can Stanford do in the way of getting me a job? And I can hardly fault the students for that because if you look at our situation with our graduate students and so on, it's easy for a tenured faculty member to say, it's terrible they're worried about jobs, but I've got a job. If I didn't have a job, I'd be worried about jobs too. Gandhi once said that some people are so hungry God can only appear to them in the form of bread, and in a sense that's part of the reason that earlier question you asked me about people in minorities thinking that environmentalism is a luxury issue. It isn't a luxury issue. But let's face it, if you're hungry, the first thing you got to do is eat, before you can worry about anything. So any other issue becomes a luxury issue. It's characteristic that the poor have less foresight; they can't afford to put aside as much grain for seed, they've got to eat it. They're not in a position where they can put away capital to make things better in the future, they've got to use every bit they've got now to keep going. And so it's the same thing; I think students can't afford to worry about how they're going to save the world, they've got to save their own ass first. So, I find it unfortunate that they're in that situation, but I don't find it surprising or bad that they are that way. After all, a lot of that stuff in the Sixties was a fad. The faddishness has died away, but I still find students very much concerned with the state of the world and so on. They're doing more studying and less marching, but that doesn't mean they're any less scared or any less concerned.
LA: But that's a kind of ominous dynamic that society has, in that, as environmental problems become more critical, and interfere more with the economic well being of societies, and change the priorities that education systems have, that individuals have, environmental activities may get short changed. The very kind of activity that would best ward off future problems
and help the immediate situation may become neglected.
Ehrlich: Not for long. The EPA can knock off any kind of cleanup program— as you know we have an incredibly serious hazardous waste problem in this country— the EPA can keep trying to make it worse, Ann Gorsuch can pull all the plugs and give all the corporations total dumping leave, but people are going to show up with more and more cancer, and more and more water is going to be undrinkable and so forth, there is no way that you can stamp environmental problems into the ground. You let the air quality deteriorate, you keep the acid rain going, food is going to get more expensive, health costs are going to go up and up, people are going to get sicker and sicker, and struggle over oil will at some time begin to escalate, and sooner or later we'll have all those mushroom shaped clouds or massive epidemics or something. In other words, you just can't tell the environment to go away. That's what's so crazy about people like Reagan saying, you know, “we can't afford the environment.” We can't afford to be without it. It's the first thing. Everything operates within the environmental context, and if we let the environment run down hill, there's not a goddamn thing we're going to be able to do with the other systems.
LA: So, the relationship between the environment is in a sense a self-
Ehrlich: It's self-correcting, but a lot of people can sure get ground to shreds in the process of correction. It's just like, people say, “the population explosion may never end.” Well that's preposterous. Anybody who can do arithmetic knows the population explosion is going to end, and basically it's going to end because we limit births, or because there is going to be an enormous increase in deaths. That's all there is to it. The Pope can gibber all he wants about how the population can grow forever, but it ain't gonna grow forever, and anybody who can do arithmetic knows that. It's the same thing with the environment. The environment just doesn't take abuse, it is a system out there and after we've abused it enough it will stop doing the things that we want it to do and then we will pay the price, and we're already paying the price. There may be different lag times. We may do the damage and our children may end up paying the price. Nobody understands the system well enough to know exactly how the costs are going to be distributed. What any ecologist can tell you is that the price will be payed.
LA: So, in a sense, the thing that's most dangerous is the lag times, is the fact that the environment teaches us at times that may not be good enough for us to learn.
Ehrlich: Absolutely. After all, if when you took your first drag on a cigarette, your lungs started to swell up and a cancer oozed out of your nose, people wouldn't smoke cigarettes. It's the fact that it gets you later on. “We fly now, they pay later” is sort of the philosophy, but unfortunately we pay very often.
LA: What could Stanford students do tomorrow that would make you most happy and hopeful?
Ehrlich: Get organized full scale to beat Ronald Reagan in the next election. Don't wait until a couple months before the election of 1984. He is without
question the most dangerous President we have ever had— not because of his personality or anything, but because he understands nothing about how the world works at the most dangerous time of our history. His policies on the environment and on nuclear war alone make him extraordinarily dangerous. As they say in Europe, he is a third rate actor doing a first rate job at playing an incompetent President. We can't afford that. We couldn't afford four years of Watt, Gorsuch and the mob, and the blame is not with Watt and Gorsuch— they are his hand picked puppets. If you open the door and there is a monkey crapping on your welcome mat, you don't blame the monkey, you blame his organ grinder. So the thing they ought to do is go after Reagan. People ought to get organized politically now to get rid of him. And I must say, I am not thrilled by the prospect of the opposition of Democrats we are likely to put up. But any Democrat would be better than Ronald Reagan; it's hard to picture a Democrat that would be worse. That is the leverage point right now, much better than, if you were in a draught area, putting a brick in you toilet tank or driving a less gas consumptive car. The place to get operating now is to get the system back on track trying to something about solving the problems of the world rather than making them worse. And specially the nuclear war issue is so desperate at the moment and increasingly worse with the German elections now and the increasing danger that we are going to put the Cruise Missiles and the Pershing II's in Europe. There is no higher priority than that, because if we lose that one, as you know, we're involved heavily in setting up these meetings looking at the results of a nuclear war, and the answer is nothing left of the Northern Hemisphere worth talking about, it's not clear if there will be anything left of the Southern Hemisphere— I mean there'll be people but it's not clear how bad the effects will be. So that's the danger that we've all got to work on, and the way for students to work on it is to do door to door work or anything else to lessen Reagan's chances of being elected in any way they can. They might picket the Hoover Tower.
LA: World War II generated a myriad of horror stories. One sort of story which haunts me particularly is that some of the Jews in Northern Europe who eventually died in concentration camps had been warned about what was going to happen to them, but they risked that the warnings were untrue rather than disrupt their lives in trying to escape.
Ehrlich: That's called human behavior.
LA: Now, we have certainly been warned by you and others about the catastrophe's that population growth, environmental destruction and nuclear weapons portend. How much have you disrupted your life to deal with these?
Ehrlich: To the extent of putting about half of my time into this sort of policy issue when, I think you'll believe, maybe you won't, but my real interest is doing the biology. There's just not much challenge in the... a typical example is, I've got to put a lot of time this year into studying the effects of nuclear war on ecosystems. As I pointed out in an article I've written, that's about as interesting to a biologist as an M.D. studying the effects of putting a double barreled shotgun in your mouth and pulling the trigger. I mean it is an issue of almost zero interest from a point of view of population genetics, basic ecology and so on and so forth, and yet it turns out to be something from an educational point of view that we've got to do.
So I have disrupted my life that way. I have disrupted my life by having one child when I might have preferred more although I'm not sure. But I have
not moved to New Zealand or Australia because I don't think it would do any good. But I would if I did. I think most of those places are targeted too. But I think it's a major disruption, Ann and I spend at least half of our time in one way or another involved in this, maybe more.
LA: Were there any other points that you wanted to make?
Ehrlich: We've talked about the critical importance of improving education before college in the sciences and in English. We've talked about the dangers of Ronald Reagan and his views on the environment and nuclear war. Do you want to go into that, into the project we have on the ecology of nuclear war?
Ehrlich: You can look through this article I've written on the ecological effects of nuclear war. I think it's the... Everybody ought to be putting ten percent of their time in trying to prevent that, because anything else socially that you're concerned with becomes moot if we blow up the Northern Hemisphere, and that's what that article deals with, basically.
LA: Five years ago, you weren't you doing that much directly involved with nuclear weapons were you?
Ehrlich: No, that's not true. I've been publishing stuff and pushing stuff on the ecological effects of nuclear war for about a decade, but nobody paid any attention. There's a section on it in Ecoscience, there's a section on it in Extinction, I've got now about ten press releases over the past decade on it, and nobody paid any attention until Ronald Reagan became President and started threatening to fight one. Then all of a sudden we had a lot of stuff on nuclear war.
LA: What about these meetings that are being organized?
Ehrlich: This is a set of meetings that Carl Sagan got grant support from a foundation to set up. There are at least five sets of meetings to be held now around the world, either planned or in process, of scientists looking at the long term impacts of nuclear war, and I'm involved in setting up two of them, one of which will be held for physical scientists, because you've got to ask all kinds of questions about what will happen to the atmosphere before you can ask what the response is of biological systems will be. I'm going to go to that as well as other biologists, and then I'm will hold over into a second meeting which will be biological scientists, and then the idea is to prepare reports which will then be presented in the Fall at a major meeting in Washington, D.C. to inform the public through Congressmen, ambassadors, chief executive officers of major corporations and so on.
LA: I have an article from the DAILY by a Hoover Fellow, where he states, “There is in fact no empirical evidence what so ever ...”
Ehrlich: Nobody has ever claimed that density of population in a given area was the critical variable. As he indicates in there but doesn't seem to understand, Japan doesn't live on Japan and the Netherlands doesn't live on the Netherlands. If you built walls around them they'd disappear. Those countries only manage to maintain a high standard of living by exploiting huge
areas of land elsewhere, and what George Borgstrom has called “ghost acreage” in the oceans for instance. The Japanese have gained a lot of their prosperity by becoming very efficient at looting the seas of their remaining protein. So that statement as it is is true but irrelevant. The other error that appears there is assuming that the past is like the future. There certainly was a period when higher population densities were needed to create industrialized societies. Whether they're good or bad is another question, that's still to be answered in fact, and that can be debated. But that does not mean that population growth in the future is going to continue to make things better. In fact what one can see in Japan, in the Netherlands and elsewhere is now a continuing deterioration of their standard of living and their quality of life that is directly related to their vast overpopulation.
LA: There is something of a new school in historical thought that is attributing the decline of a number of ancient civilizations in large measure to their destruction of their natural environment.
Ehrlich: That's right. No question that it was a factor in a lot of them. If you've been to the Mediterranean Basin, it's a goatscape, and the destruction of their forests and the looting of their natural resources make it very unlikely that any strong nation will ever appear there again.
LA: When did this occur?
Ehrlich: It occurred over a long period going all the way back to the Egyptians.. There is a book by Donald Hughes that outlines many of the arguments. It's clear that ecological factors played important roles in the collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization, in the loss of the Khmer civilization in Southeast Asia; Classical Greece is an ecological disaster area, the original civilization of the Tigris and Euphrates went under because they were a hydraulic civilization and they couldn't properly maintain their irrigation systems. But there was always the other usual human foibles mixed in there and it is often hard, for the more ancient ones, to sort out what the factors were. The thing that is unique today is that the civilization that is dropping the ball is global. When the Tigris and Euphrates went under, or when Egypt went down, when the Mediterranean in general went down, or when the classic Maya collapsed and so on, or when the Pueblo Indians disappeared, there was somebody else to take over, new technologies, new areas, the areas that had been destroyed had simply been deserted or went back to a more subsistence level. Now, the civilization that is screwing up the planet is basically a global one, and therefore, we don't have any place to go.
LA: What would you say are the “biggies” in environmental problems?
Ehrlich: Population is obviously the most fundamental one. Because what happens to the planet is a function of the number of people we have, multiplied by the level of affluence that we try and maintain the average person at, multiplied by some kind of factor that takes into consideration the sophistication of the technology, how environmentally benign the technologies are. You can reduce the impacts by reducing the number of people, reducing the level of affluence, or by improving the efficiency of the technology that one uses to achieve that affluence. And we ought to be working very hard on all three, because by any measure that any sensible person could take, the entire planet is vastly overpopulated and so is virtually every nation. We're only managing to
support 4.6 billion people by doing things that no sensible family would ever do in their personal finances: we're living on our capital, we're taking advantage of a one time bonanza of fossil fuels, highly concentrated minerals, and biological riches in the form of possibly as many as 30 million species by the most recent measure, and billions of natural populations. It's a one time bonanza, and when they're gone, we have to fall back on the flow resources, we can't depend then on the stock resources. And the systems that supply us with the flow resources mostly depend on those 30 million plants and animal species, the stocks, and so we are busily destroying our ability to live on income by maintaining a vast overpopulation on dwindling capital. When people talk about there are no signs that the large populations are bad and so on, they are either just uneducated or very foolish.
I started with population because it's so fundamental, when you go over the other things they're all intertwined. Loss of biological diversity, particularly the loss of the world's rain forests are a function to no small degree of the populations and how we use our resources and how much energy we use. Acid rains are absolutely crucial and of course involved in the loss of diversity. We now have lost the fishes and much of the rest of the aquatic biota of many lakes in the northeastern parts of North America, in Sweden, in Norway. It's now predicted by some people that the forests of Europe are already dead, that there is no way to fix the soil back up so that the forests can be supported, that they're in the process of dying, it just takes a long time. We're seeing a big die out of certain kinds of trees in New England. A crucial point to make is that it is silly to wait for a “proof”. There is no set of scientific experiments that can be run that will give you the kind of information, so much more information than we now have on an issue like acid rain. You cannot establish ten one square mile areas that are going to have acid rain for a hundred years and ten others that are not going to have it. What you have to do is go from first principles: no sensible biologist would advise sousing ecosystems with rain at under pH 4 for a long period, just from what we know about pH tolerances of organisms. It is just stupid, and there is no need for one additional shred of research before we start moving in the right direction on acid rain. It's crazy to let it go on but we're letting it go on.
Letting out toxins in general. We have a toxic waste thing, the PCB's, the chlorinated hydrocarbons, the dioxins, all of this sort of stuff has to be much more carefully handled. Because among other things we are poisoning aquifers with them. And of course they clean themselves so slowly that it's basically turning water from a renewable resource to a non-renewable resource. You know there is something like fifty times as much water in the ground as falls annually in the United States; that's a huge reservoir which we are busily polluting. The natural cleaning processes basically don't function underground, and so once you've polluted it you may have screwed it essentially permanently.
LA: What about the cleaning processes in acidified lakes?
Ehrlich: The fauna goes. You would have to un-acidify them first, then you would have to restock them.
LA: Will they un-acidify themselves?
Ehrlich: Not as far as I know. What they are trying in places like Norway is dumping lime in to try and keep some of them going. And this shows every sign of becoming a global problem. We don't know much about it in the Southern Hemisphere, but it's very serious in Colorado now, there's acid fogs in California. And another is with lag times. In a high discount world with an economist, what happens in five or six years may make no difference at all, but in the real world, the fact that it may take a hundred years before the current levels of acid rains utterly destroy the Northern Hemisphere, but when it's gone, it will be gone, and we won't be able to have a civilization on the Northern Hemisphere, and that's just with acid rains alone, maybe two hundred years, nobody knows. One of the main things you are destroying are soils and trees, and soils take thousands of years to generate, and trees may have generation times of two to three hundred years. Just like around here, if you go out on the hills behind Stanford, you can see dieing populations of Coast Live Oaks, they're all dying out. How do you know they're dying? Because you can walk around and you don't see any saplings; all you have is elderly trees, and when those trees die, that's going to be all she wrote, instead of having oak woodlands we're going to have large stands of European grasses. It's a combination of cattle and squirrels eating the acorns and seedlings. People think of trees as, you know, the Ronald Reagan plastic tree syndrome: once it's there it will always be there. But that's not the case. We're changing oak woodlands into grasslands.
LA: Now, acid rain could be stopped if scrubbers were used wherever fossil fuels were burned?
Ehrlich: You've got to do a lot of scrubbing, you've got to— nobody knows. Nobody knows if cutting, say, the sulfur oxide input into the atmosphere by 50% could cut the acid rain by 80% or it could cut it by 10%; nobody knows enough about the dynamics. The chemical dynamics in the atmosphere may be very non-linear. It's more likely that cutting it by 50% will only cut the acid rain by 10%, that you've got to go way down below that, we've got to find out. But the answer is, of course, that we start cutting as fast as possible, we don't continue doing it.
LA: So, is there a lot of expanded funding of acid rain research now?
Ehrlich: Not as far as I know. The government is very recalcitrant. It's causing international incidents, with Canada of course, already. And that's going to get only worse. Also international incidents between Sweden and Norway and England, because a lot of their acid rain comes from England. But our society does not— you know, countries tend to be run by lawyers and economists and fools so they just think you can go on with this forever and corrected by changing a price mechanism somewhere; they're going to find out differently.
LA: Were there any additional “biggies”?
Ehrlich: Well, over-exploitation is important in marine fisheries, and so on. Also very important is the destruction of coastal wetlands, which tend to be often the nurseries of marine fisheries. Development in general. The time is long since gone when any more of the relatively undisturbed parts of the planet ought to be developed because we need the natural ecological systems that continue to supply the vital services they give us. And we've disturbed more than enough of the planet— all of the planet has already been to some
degree or another disturbed by human beings. There is not a square inch that hasn't had a difference in the radiation balance, the presence of chlorinated hydrocarbons, temperature changes because we've altered the climate, and so on. So there is nothing left that's pristine. But the few relatively undisturbed areas that are left should be left. Not one more square inch of the United States should be developed, not one more piece of serpentine grassland should be put under a golf course or anything else, and that's what people have got to learn and that's going to be very difficult to do in the tropical areas, because the rain forests, which help control our weather, besides being a vast supply of other sort of riches for us, are at enormous risk, as everybody knows.
LA: Is it economic systems that are leading to this behavior?
Ehrlich: The economic systems we have all promote the wrong kind of behavior, be they communist, socialist or capitalist, because they're all basically steel making, through-put loving radical systems rather than conservative systems. None of the economic systems we have emphasize quality of capital; they emphasize speed of throughput. The best that either a capitalist or communist system can do is turn natural resources into rubbish as fast as possible. Basically what we have is, we are an organism that has developed technologies far beyond its understanding of how the technologies ought to be used and what the long run impacts of the technologies are. People talk about a technological imperative: if you have 'em you got to use 'em. You know, if you build an H-Bomb by God you've got to blow somebody up with it. But it goes on and on. I mean we have destroyed our lives in part for the automobile, nobody ever asks what human life is for, and so on, it is, what can we do with the technology? And the sad thing is that there is such vast ignorance, even among people who think of themselves as educated, about how the world actually works. You see, there are very distinguished and very smart economists who wrote that we didn't need to worry about the Second Law of thermodynamics because the sun would last for billions of more years, which is perfectly true but simply shows that here is a person speaking as a distinguished, I think he was even a Nobel Laureate economist, who doesn't understand that how long the sun lasts doesn't matter, that it's the flow of solar energy to the earth that counts, and that entropy is a very real thing here on earth in this part of the system, and that we really have to worry about the Second Law right here on earth. Even though the sun will be basically an infinite source of energy out there it doesn't do us a goddamn bit of good. If you have people making major decisions who don't understand basic physics, who don't understand basic chemistry, who don't understand basic biology, and above all, don't understand that the economic system and the human system has to function within the rules laid down by nature, basically, that we have in no way conquered nature, that we are absolutely and utterly forced to conform to a whole set of rules like the Second Law, then it's not surprising that we get Presidents like Ronald Reagan , and, you know, just utter foolishness all over the place.
LA: How would you best illustrate the Second Law, say, in an economic context?
Ehrlich: Anybody who has had an economics course with a standard textbook can see by simply looking at the circular diagram of the generation of gross national product or gross national income, the utter disconnection of economics from
the real world, because there are no physical inputs into it, it is a diagram of a perpetual motion machine. They confuse money and prices and things like that, they think that that actually generates wealth, even though old time economists knew better. Modern economists think that all you need is information, knowledge, technology in some outside sense; they don't understand the physical and biological underpinnings of the economic system which are absolutely essential to them.
LA: I think that both Mao and Julian Simon said that “humans are our greatest resource,” and that's why we need more of them.
Ehrlich: Yeah, that's just nonsense. That is just gibberish. There is not one shred of evidence that increased numbers of human beings do anything at all except destroy resources. In other words, I ask you, was Athens a more or less creative place than India is today? Athens had what, twenty five thousand citizens, and India has pushing seven hundred million. Somehow I don't think the ratio of creativity is there. The problem with— you know people often say, if you have more people you will have more Beethovens and so on; there is no sign of this at all. What you're more likely to get is more Simon's.
By the way, I should point out, there isn't any dispute about the things I just said about population size and the second law and so on in the scientific community. I am not a radical in the scientific community in saying that you've got to follow the Second Law. I don't know a single biologist, do you, who thinks that we can have the population increase forever, that the carrying capacity is infinite or you can make copper out of other metals. In other words, all this sh** is—I don't want to be presented as a radical for having those views, I mean that's just the way the world works.
LA: Have you ever felt a pressure to compromise scientific standards of validity in order to get people aroused to environmental issues?
Ehrlich: Never. You don't have to exaggerate anything. Why don't you interview Dick Holm briefly, because Dick claims that I actually underestimate things, contrary to the view that Ehrlich exaggerates things, he is actually too optimistic.
LA: I have come across claims that there were a number of predictions in The Population Bomb that didn't come to pass at the time they were predicted.
Ehrlich: Well let's deal with them one at a time. Because a lot of the claims are simply untrue. What people claimed were predictions are simply a series of scenarios, the sorts of things which could happen, and there were two or three various tracks which were just all stories about the future. But nobody ever hits a hundred percent. I would say that The Population Bomb and The End of Affluence saying that the food problems are going to get worse, that it was going to be steadily down hill and so on and so forth— it's come faster than I really imagined that it would. Several things have happened faster than I thought it would: the system has run down hill faster than I thought it would, as witnessed by the famines in the middle '70's, and the continuing knife-edge food problem. Millions of people have died of starvation as predicted. And the resource situation has gotten serious a lot faster than
many people and I really thought it would. The economic system has run down hill, the social system— after all, back when I wrote The Population Bomb, you didn't have to go through a metal detector before you got on an airplane— and so on and so forth. But when you make strong statements about the future, what you're hoping to do is mobilize people into action to make them go in some different direction, and I think that's happened faster than I thought it would also. I thought, when I wrote The Population Bomb that we would be...
(Just then Dr. Stephen Schneider from Atmospheric... called up to talk to Dr. Ehrlich about the problems of nuclear explosions injecting dust into the tropopause, for the upcoming meetings in Washington)
That's an example of how I spend all my time. I was very much surprised at how rapidly the environment has incorporated into the public concern, I was amazed at the speed at which we reached a net reproductive rate of one, replacement reproduction in the United States. All the demographers were saying it would be the turn of the century or later, if the government got behind it. And the government didn't get behind it and it happened in the early 1970's. But, I wouldn't want to stand behind everything that I wrote in The Population Bomb; I find it absolutely astonishing that people think I would. Any scientist is always learning and changing his or her views.
LA: Except the neutralist...
Ehrlich: Except the neutralists and the creationists. First of all, there are so many aspects to this, I am always learning something, and I am always looking back at things that I think could have been done better or that I should have said differently and so on, and I make no apologies for that what so ever. The ridiculous thing is that people spend their time attacking me arguing whether the size of the famines in the mid '70's were precisely the size that I said they would be, and then broadcasting Julian Simon's statement that you can make copper out of other metals. In other words, there's a little bit of asymmetry there. So I have both no apologies for what errors I have made, and I would expect that at any time a scientist is doing work in an ongoing field, that you do your best estimates at a given time, you're working with a very complex system, and you learn as you go along.
LA: How do you think we should respect various predictions that are around now, the Club of Rome, the Global 2000 Report to the President?
Ehrlich: The point is, all the sensible predictions are in the same direction, it's only the details that differ. Nobody can say whether there will be a large collapse next year, or ten years or thirty years. Nobody thinks we can go on— nobody with any brains— thinks we can go on the current route for another hundred years. The question is, what are your best guesses? You keep watching things that go on, and it depends on all sorts of factors that we have very little understanding of. For instance, we don't understand the weather system. If the weather system really turns bad on us and we keep getting a lot of variability, then the whole business will come apart long before the turn of the century even if we avoided nuclear war. How do you calculate the probabilities of a nuclear war? Some people say it's one in ten for the next ten years, some people say it's one in two for the next ten years. Either of those two, even if it's one in a hundred, when the down side risk is the utter destruction of our civilization, we should be making the
changes. Similarly, maybe we could keep population growth going until we hit eight billion before there is a collapse, maybe the collapse will come at six, maybe it will come at five, nobody knows for sure. But if you have any interest in the future of humanity, it doesn't matter which of those is the case, you work now to try and halt population growth rather than waiting for a gigantic collapse. So, in terms of the need for action today it doesn't matter which prediction or which estimate is best. The best analogy I guess is with the nuclear arms race: it doesn't matter whether the chances of a nuclear war are one in a hundred between now and the end of the century or one in two, you should be working just as hard to reduce it to one in ten billion. If you discount the idiots— people who know nothing about physics, biology and chemistry and think it all can be done socially and with mirrors— if you discount them, there is simply no significant difference in opinion. All the people I know in all the disciplines, the physicists, the chemists, all the people who look at these problems say we're getting into deeper and deeper trouble and we're going to pay an enormous price and relatively soon— but relatively soon can be anywhere from ten to fifty years, and some people, including me, think we've already payed a very large chunk of it.
LA: How is your day divided up into your various activities?
Ehrlich: You mean honestly? I usually get up around seven and by the time I've done my back exercises for my bad back and gotten dressed and had breakfast it's about eight, and I usually work at home usually on a manuscript or something in the non-field season to ten or so, the middle of the morning. Then I come into the office, work at the office until 4:30 or so and then I go home and usually relax before dinner and work from 7:30 or 8 till about 11 and then watch the Tonight Show and hope there'll be a rerun and make me two hundred and fifty bucks, and go to sleep around midnight. I figure I probably work about eighty hours a week on the average and about forty of it goes into straight biology and about forty of it into policy issues of one sort or another, but I don't consider myself overworked. The biology is all vacation for me. What I don't do a lot of is screwing around in terms of just wasting time. I either socialize with my friends or I do the biology, and try and avoid time wasting activities.
LA: Of all the various activities you do, which do you think are most efficient in terms of environment saved per hour of work?
Ehrlich: Oh that's a terrible question. Well certainly the most direct efficiency comes from the things that have the most direct political impact— the writing of books, writing an ecoscience column for Mother Earth News, giving speeches and so on— that is more direct short term impact. The basic biology we do may well have greater long term impact. I think the two sort of have to be mixed.
LA: In terms of your effectiveness, you have to have a balance of activities.
Ehrlich: For my effectiveness, I would quickly fold if there was nothing but the policy side. First of all, I'm fascinated by the biology. Second of all, the biology feeds into the policy, and as I hardly have to tell you, evolutionary biology and ecology are very rapidly changing fields and I really have to stay on top of them. Like, I think, all of my colleagues in biology who are active biologists today, I probably spend more time studying than the average
student. When I say I put in eighty hours a week, forty in biology, probably a good ten of that is in reading the latest.
LA: Ann Gorsuch Burford recently resigned. Do you have any comments on that?
Ehrlich: Thank God. No, just that they've been doing such a destructive job that eventually things caught up with them. But until they get rid of Watt by getting rid of Reagan I'm afraid that there is no hope. Reagan will certainly try to do something better cosmetically with the EPA, which he's managed to convert now virtually into a polluter's agency rather than a people's agency. The more we get rid of the Coors, Gorsuch, Watt influence by any means, the better off we are. It's sort of pathetic because Coors Brewery gets its fresh Rocky Mountain water and of course one of the things that's happening in the Rocky Mountains is that heavy metals are going to be mobilized by the acid rain, toxic metals will be showing up in their drinking water.
LA: Do you think that the damage they've done is largely remediable?
Ehrlich: No, I think it's going to be very difficult to undo the damage that Gorsuch and Watt and Reagan have done, because the honest, smart people have been leaving agencies like the EPA, and the Department of the Interior, and it's going to be very hard to recruit them back after this experience. This is the worst Presidency we've ever had in this country, hands down; there have probably been others as incompetent, but never at such a critical time.
LA: Earth Day was started by people at Stanford...
Ehrlich: Dennis Hayes. Who's still around. You know he's a law student here.
LA: What should people think about Earth Week? How should Earth Day be different from all other days?
Ehrlich: Well this year, it ought to be the start of the campaign against Reagan's reelection. There are all sorts of issues, but when you've got a government that is absolutely dedicated to the destruction of environment, and through it the country, and to fooling around with nuclear war, then all the rest of it has to drop back. The thing that's such a shame is we made so much progress with the establishment of the EPA, and with the National Environmental Protection Act, and the Clean Air Acts; we have institutionalized environmental concerns, we're moving in the right direction as far as our population growth went, we're beginning to take a look at immigration— although that has faltered— and now we have a government that's trying to turn back the clock and destroy the country as quickly as possible. And so rather than worry about the more or less parochial concerns, the first thing we've got to do is get rid of those jerks, and get in a group that is at least not outright dedicated to the destruction of the country for fun and profit and as quickly as possible. So I would hope that Earth Day and Earth Week would be thought of as the launching of a political campaign to rid us of the worst problem we've got at the moment.
LA: They see themselves as the exact opposite, don't they?
Ehrlich: Oh I'm sure they do. Nobody sees themselves as a bunch of greedy,
ignorant fools. I mean that's clear. I am certain that inside their heads, what there is of them, they have nothing but the best of motives. I am sure that Adolf Hitler had nothing but the best of motives, and you go right on down the line. Whoever tries to destroy the world out of saying “I'm evil and I'm going to destroy the world” ? They all think they're doing good. That doesn't make any difference; what they're doing is objectively assessable. I'm certain that Ronald Reagan is a very nice fellow, not terribly bright, but a very nice fellow.
LA: Do you ever find yourself applying the principles of ecology to your interpersonal relations or other parts of your life?
Ehrlich: Interpersonal relations?
LA: Are any of these principles portable?
Ehrlich: Yeah, sure. You can lead a more ecologically sound life in various ways, but it's difficult. The easiest thing to do is change the society. For instance, what I do daily most people can't do. For instance, I walk to work every day. It would be wonderful if everybody in the country could. Our GNP would be lower but everybody's quality of life would be higher and we'd have to have fewer automobiles and we'd use less fossil fuel and so on. But the country isn't designed for it. You could gradually redesign the country for it. I eat less meat than I used to eat, in part because it's not healthy and in part because there is a terrible food problem in the world and it's the impact of having /?/ and so on. But I do lots of things that are ecologically unsound; I'm always flying back and forth from coast to coast and it would be better to do that on conference phone calls where possible and so on. But the most ecologically sound thing that Ann and I have done, the thing that if we were emulated with the country would be very rapidly in much much better condition— you could enormously improve the United States in the next four years if everybody in the United States did what Ann and I did, and that is have a maximum of one child. And you could make a much bigger contribution there than you can by almost anything you can do, because you remove then from all the additional pressures that an additional person puts on, and there is nothing in my view that is more irresponsible today than having a large family— that doesn't mean a forty or fifty year old having a large family, that means somebody starting out their reproduction today. If they're fully apprised of the state of the world today, I don't think anybody starting their reproduction today can possibly justify having more than two children.
LA: Well people take up smoking today.
Ehrlich: Oh I didn't say people always act in their own best interests or in society's best interest, but if you start out your family today and have five kids, you're sort of a John Dillinger whether you like it or not, in other words, you're being very very anti-social, even if the average person doesn't realize that. After all, people smoke because they think it hasn't been “proven” that smoking's bad for you. Again any scientist can tell you that smoking's bad for you, and the only scientists who will tell you anything different are ones that are in the pay of the tobacco industry or stupid beyond all comprehension. After all drinking may not be bad for you and I drink, I mean, you know, you choose your problems. But at least with smoking and drinking, if you isolate yourself from other people, if you don't drive
when you're drunk, the penalties fall on you. When you have six or seven children, you are putting a burden on society and making certain that the world your children live in will be a worse world.
LA: So do you think more work and residential areas should be designed like Stanford University, where people live near where they work? So somehow, it seems to be only at Universities where the idea that you live where you work is common.
Ehrlich: Yeah, it's too bad. But of course it means “cutting profits” because if you work at a steel mill you can't afford to have all that garbage let out, you've got to have the scrubbers if people are going to live nearby. It's a common problem in our society with the distribution of costs and benefits. Somebody pays for all that pollution but the person who owns the person who affords the steel mill normally can afford to live upwind of it. It's the workers who are stuck downwind.
LA: Aldo Leopold, author of The Land Ethic, said that to “receive an ecological education is to live alone in a world of wounds.” How much does the picture of the world that you see get to you?
Ehrlich: Well, first of all, I don't have to live alone in a world of wounds because I've got twenty or twenty five colleagues here on the floor who to a very large degree share my perception of it. But it still— it doesn't bother me continuously, I can shut it out— but of course it's extremely bothersome to realize that I have seen an enormous deterioration of the planet, and that my daughter and people of your generation are inheriting a very badly ****ed up and increasingly dangerous planet and that's very very sad. But as you well know, I don't run around in a constant depression. You can always drink. As long as there is wine and women and an occasional song, you can live with it.
LA: Besides wine, women and song, along what avenues can we gather up hope for the future of human experience?
Ehrlich: Well I think there is enormous potential for turning things around. I mean look at the rate at which the— they said it was impossible to get the net reproductive rate down to one until after the turn of the century and it happened in a couple of years; there's no reason at all why the economic system couldn't be turned around extremely rapidly, why when the time is right that we couldn't change our ways in the way we treat other people, because we're never going to solve this problem unless we get rid of racism and get rid of large levels of various sorts of chauvinism, national, sexual, and so on and so forth. The challenge that faces humanity today is a very interesting one; we are either going to change our ways or we're going to go down the tubes. And the people who are raving on about how many more people we can have, and how we can make copper out of other metals and so on, are simply saying “don't change your ways, go down the tubes,” and if nothing else it's interesting. But there are, in my view, as opposed to Dick's [Prof. Richard Holm] I think you'll find, it is at least conceivable that we could finally make the changes that need to be made in the way we deal with our environment and the way we deal with each other. It's not very likely. The final summary is, and maybe we ought to end it there, is I am extremely optimistic about what we could do, I am extremely pessimistic about what we will do.