Julian Simon's
Land Fantasy

"Land. Agricultural land is not a fixed resource. Rather, the amount of agricultural land has been increasing substantially, and it is likely to continue to increase where needed. Paradoxically, in the countries that are best supplied with food, such as the United States, the quantity of land under cultivation has been decreasing because it is more economical to raise larger yields on less land than to increase the total amount of farmland. For this reason, among others, the amount of land used for forests, recreation, and wildlife has been increasing rapidly in the United States-hard to believe, but substantiated beyond a doubt. "

Julian Simon, 1996
The Ultimate Resource 2

Arable Land (agricultural)

TOTAL LAND SURF ACE = 57 million square miles

It does not matter what people think or believe, there are only 57 million square miles of earths surface. No matter how many genuses are born, 57 million square miles and that is that.

Oh but Simon says that "Agricultural land is not a fixed resource." So we should keep our discussion to arable land.

57 million square milcs x 640acrcs/square mile = 36,480,000,000 acres! THAT is a lot of acreage. However:

from the January 1992 FAO Report (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

      1. 11 % of land surface suitable for agriculture (22%) with appropriate irrigation and drainage
      2. 6% permafrost
      3. 10% too wet
      4. 22% too shallow
      5. 23% with chemical problem
      6. 28% too dry.

Thus only 11% is arable, the rest cannot support crops!

According the the FAO, it takes 2.5 acres to support one family (2 adults, 2 children) or 0.625 acres per person. You may argue that the FAO is full of pessimistic doomsayers and that Simon's fantasies are the absolute truth. (Who wants to believe doomsayers anyway?) Well, it seems better to rely on data rather than fantasies.

0.625 acres to support one person

But remember, you can not support even one person on 0.625 acres of drifting sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, the land must be fertile and supplied with water! So if the land is permafrost, too wet, too shallow, has chemical problems or is too dry it cannot support crops.

But Simon says "Agricultural land is not a fixed resource. Rather, the amount of agricultural land has been increasing substantially, and it is likely to continue to increase where needed. "

The response to that is "So What??" The world population has doubled between 1960 and 2000. That means it only takes 40 years for the earths population to double! (3 billion to 6 billion)

40 years doubling time!!

Can we double the amount of arable land in only 40 years?? It is sheer folly to think we can double the amount of fertile land from soil that is too dry, too wet or too shallow in 40 years. And even if we could, without population stabilization, we would have to double THAT which has already been doubled in the next 40 years!! And think...who would do all that doubling?? The United States? It would take 3 times the gross national budget just to keep up with one year of population increase, and it is total nonsense to think the U.S. could do that...nor could all the industrialized nations of the earth accomplish that feat. How about all those starving people in Africa. Why not go there and tell them to get on the ball and get their act together. Either that or die quietly with smiles on their faces. After all, people are the number one resource of the world, just ask Simon. The more the better.

And then Simon says: "....the amount of land used for forests, recreation, and wildlife has been increasing rapidly in the United States-hard to believe, but substantiated beyond a doubt. "

No wonder it is hard to believe. Have you tried to drive toYosemite National Park and get a place to stay in the last 30 years?? You could in the 1930's, why not in the 2000's? Just try and drive most anywhere without reservations made long in advance for campsites or motels in recreational areas (maybe in Northern Alaska, a convenient place for the average working American). Has the amount of recreational areas doubled in the United States as the population doubled?? The answer is decisively NO. It is difficult to get congress to set aside recreational areas, and almost impossible if it is Republican controlled. After all, we must not interfere with mining interests, how could we ever keep up with Simon's predictions of greater abundance of minerals?? Republicans will possibly (and reluctantly) allow some land to be set aside under pressure, but will not budget for a park service staff to protect it (re: Mojave National Park). So which is it, recreational land or land to dig out minerals. You can't call lands designated for mining a place in which to go camping, hiking and photography! Anyway, which state legislature will double the budget for state parks?? Don't forget, Alaska is ripe for oil interests....forget recreation, we need more oil (to keep up with Simon's predictions). In Washington, lobyists for special interests truly love Simon.

"...wildlife has been increasing rapidly in the United States..."

This statement by the venerable Julian Simon can only be described as a lie. There are many many examples of vanishing wildlife due to the activities of corporations, their relentless greed and determination to rid the United States of the Endangered Species Act. So, via Julian Simon, these corporations can convince poorly educated politicians (particularly Republicans) and the ignorant public that there are no endangered species so they can reap quick profits. The list of endangered species is very long, certainly much too long for ruthless corporations. Below are just two as examples. The rest can easily be found using internet search engines.

Grizzly Bears

photograph by Lynn Rogers
Wildlife Research Institute

"Today, grizzly bear populations have been reduced to a fraction of their former numbers in the lower forty-eight states—once estimated at more than 50,000. Approximately 1,000 grizzlies exist today in the lower forty-eight, occupying less than 2 percent of their former range. They are hanging on in isolated zones in parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington (and possibly in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado). The grizzly bears in each one of these areas are cut off from grizzlies in the other areas, and even within their own ecosystems, by roads and other human developments. Will there soon be no room left for the Great Bear? Or, will we preserve the remaining grizzly bear habitat and begin to reconnect landscapes with corridors to allow movement between ecosystems for grizzly bears and other wildlife?

The U.S. Forest Service deserves much of the blame for the destruction and fragmentation of prime grizzly bear habitat in all grizzly bear recovery zones. However, it should be recognized that many Forest Service employees have laid their jobs on the line to protect grizzly bears and their habitat. The abuse and intimidation that Forest Service biologists, and other federal workers, have endured at the hands of managers and politicians are well documented in Todd Wilkinson’s recent book—Science Under Siege-The Politicians’ War on Nature and Truth. Biological opinions (based on science) which predict negative impacts to wildlife and habitat—including threatened and endangered species—may conflict with plans for timber sales and other developments. Evidently, scientists were (are) often asked to rewrite their opinions to support the planned activity. If they refuse, another scientist, one more willing to pen an opinion supporting the project, might be assigned the task."

James Musgrove



AUGUST 23, 2004

The primary habitats of the jaguar include the dense tropical rain forests and swampy grasslands of Central and South America, although they have been found at altitudes above 8000 feet. In the damp forest habitat, jaguars like to roam close to rivers, streams and lakes and are strong swimmers. Like the leopard, it also frequents open country, especially in the most northerly and southerly parts of its range. Their distribution ranges from the southwestern portion of the United States to southcentral Argentina. Cattle ranchers, in southern Arizona, have reported sighting jaguars as recently as 1996. These rare sightings are not belived to be part of a resident population in Arizona, but transients from established groups in northern Mexico. Since the early 1970's, the jaguar has been on the list of totally protected animals in most South American countries. Beliz has the world's only park, opened in 1984, dedicated to the preservation of the jaguar.

Throughout South and Central America, vast areas of wilderness are being cleared for agriculture and cattle ranching. Human encroachment permanently alters the ecosystem by cutting down forests and disrupting the normal hunting and traveling patterns that resident cats have established. As more areas open up for development, the jaguar continues in direct competition with humans for its food. Turtles, tortoises, monkeys, capybara and fish are captured and sold for their meat and caiman populations have been desimated to satisfy the skin trade. The competition for food and habitat looms as a larger threat to jaguars than the damand for their skins, and their numbers are diminishing.

The main threats to the jaguar is deforestation and poaching. Since jaguars prefer dense forests, removing the trees will cause them to be seen more out in the open, and when seen they are shot on sight. Ranchers also kill jaguars, fearing that they will kill their livestock. Ranchers allow their livestock to free-range, and become almost feral, so the jaguar takes livestock as prey often. Humans also compete with the jaguar for available prey. Sport hunting jaguars for their skins has declined since the 1970's, and poaching has declined as well.

Jaguars' overall natural distribution has declined by about 50% since the 1900's. They are extremely rare or absent north of Mexico. Their population is highly fragmented, with the largest contiguous population found in the Amazon river basin, and are especially abundant in the Pantanal flood plains of Brazil and Chaco thorn scrubs of northern Paraguay.