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This evenings Meet the Author Program features Dr. Paul Ehrlich. He and his wife Anne Ehrlich, who is also here, have co-authored the new book, One with Nineveh: Politics, Consumption and the Human Future. In this book, the Ehrlichs look at the environmental challenges that are associated with overpopulation, over consumption and political and economic inequity. They offer a series of recommendations for reversing world wide environmental degradation, many of them urgent, and all of them achievable. Paul Ehrlich is President for the Center of Conservation Biology and Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University. He's also a professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1966. Over the past 30 years he and his wife Anne, have been pioneers in alerting the public to the linkages amongst such issues as overpopulation, resource scarcity, environmental degradation. They've also written on the environmental effects of the use of nuclear weapons. Dr. Ehrlich is the recipient of many international honors and awards. He is the author or co-author, with his wife, of more 800 scientific papers and articles in the popular press, and author of over 35 books including The Population Bomb, The Trail of Science and Reason and Human Natures. He's appeared as a guest many TV and radio programs and as a correspondent for NBC TV. Please joiningjoin me in welcoming Professor Paul Ehrlich. It's nice to be introduced by an old friend, who just took seven years off of my life because I started at Stanford in 1959 I need to tell you Iyou're really listening to the elderly tonight, but I have a half an hour to tell you what's wrong with the world and what we're going to do about it. And unfortunately I'm not going to be able to do all of that. But I don't think I have to, because all of you probably since you're interested this sort of thing are unlike most of our population, keeping some track of what's going on in the world. It was interesting that, I'd love to be able to come in and here the talk on Osama Bin Laden. I had some correspondence with an old friend. He's a political scientist in the University of Maryland, raising the issue of whether Al Queda as such actually exists, or whether it has ever really existed or whether it is simply one more boogey man put up by the administration to keep us all terrorized. You know the various colors, yellow, green, red and so on and so forth. He pointed out that for instance whenever things looked tough for the administration they fly jet fighters over Washington day and night at low altitude, and the issue of course is: the middle of the night will the jet be able to shoot down the attacking Al Queda bombers? Nobody really knows. I'm going to start off, in a sense to explain why One with Nineveh is called Nineveh. I think there is some interwhy we got that title. And I'mthat's going to take you back to some ancient history that many of you probably already know, but I'll do it briefly. And that is there was a the first of all the true empires, was the Assyrian Empire, which developed in Mesopotamia in the area of 600 BC. The Egyptians had an empire in a sense before that, but the Egyptians had a, they got a bright idea. And that was: look instead of just farming our wonderful land and so on and so forth, why don't we take ourselves out and find other people and steal their stuff, as well as raising our own grains and so on. And they started doing that, and they were quite good at it, but because of their religion--- those of you who have been to Egypt know, you know all the tombs are on the western side of the Nile, and you got to be buried there with all of your possessions--- they didn't want to hang out in the other places, so they would steal other people's stuff but they took it home with them, because they had to die in Egypt. They Assyrian's actually got a better idea. You know, let's go out and steal other people's stuff, but then let's stay there and force them to work for us and give us more stuff to send home. And it worked out very well. Their capital was Nineveh, and it became a very, very wealthy city, and they were damned good at what they did. They had for example, a very fine armored Calvary. They didn't send their troops into battle without proper armor and so on, as some other empires we could mention. They had big wheeled things that would move up against the city walls and they could pry. it had and iron bar that would come out---and they could pry out they would pry out blocks until they could get in, and they had other stands with archers on them shooting down to keep the defenders from keeping their wall from being torn down. They were really good at what they did, and they produced a thriving civilization, with a thriving capital city of Nineveh, in fact that actually the Pining Gardens of Babylon were probably at Nineveh, which was the center of all hydraulic civilization. They lived on irrigated agriculture. Now you can imagine that there must've been a lot of hubris among the leaders of the civilization. You don't have to have much imagination, because when they excavated Nineveh, they found incredible palaces with incredible bas relief, so that again there are some parallels that you can imagine between the hubris of those leaders, and the hubris of some other civilizations. Now what were the leaders of Nineveh missing? Well one of the things that they were missing was that they understood only a little bit of what was happening to their basic resources. One of the problems in Mesopotamia is that when you have a hydraulic civilization, that is when you are using irrigation, the water that you are using is full of salts, and if you happen to be in a largely desert area as you flood your fields, of course the water evaporates, and what stays behind? Salts. And going back 4,000 years so you can find from Mesopotamia tablets that would say: oh boy the fields are starting to salt up and we don't know what to do about it. And in fact, even today it's a very serious problem in the world food situation is salinization of irrigated land. Even today it's extremely difficult and very expensive to deal with problems like salinization if you're irrigating. And a second thing which contributed to the downfall of Nineveh's civilization, along with other people attacking and so on, is that they deforested the Zagros Mountains which are the mountains in the background close to where Nineveh was. If you have huge palaces there may have been as many as 250,000 people in Nineveh at the peak of its power, you have to have a lot of firewood, you have to have big beams to hold the roofs of your palaces up, and they deforested the uplands which as people are finding out all over the world, leads to things like floods and lack of a steady flow of water which is an important for irrigation, and slowly but surely their civilization went down the drain as many others have. Now why do I why do I talk about Nineveh? Does everybody know where Nineveh is? Outskirts of Mosul, and right now there are tanks of another hubritic civilization there, trying this time of course to get hold of oil. If any of you think, that we ever went to battle there over weapons of mass destruction, over bringing them democracy, over any of that crap, forget it. I have a tree. I have a treea tree? That shows my age. I have a bridge over Brooklyn that I'll sell you after the talk. You know the whole history of the west, and in the Middle East goes back to when an admiral persuaded Churchill: you know you really have to run your battleships--- this was when he was lord of the Admiral Team, back in the First World War---you really got to run your battleships on oil, not on coal. And in fact, you go back to the Sykes Picot Agreement and Red Line agreement and so on and so forth. I have a wonderful quote somewhere, and that's where the interest in the Middle East started, and that's where it continues today. We're talking about oil. Have any of you read I think Rashid is the guy's name who wrote the book on the Taliban, the good book on the Taliban? The first map in it, what does it show? It shows thewhere the pipelines are. The quote I love came from Pierre Salinger: "Iraq was created by Churchill" this was 18 years ago, that he wrote it, "who had the mad idea of joining two widely separated oil wells at Kirkuk and Mosul by uniting three widely separated people, the Kurds, the Sunni and the Shiites. Guess what? So we have a situation where 2,600 years or so ago there was a civilization involved in building an empire, with a big chunk of it what's now Iraq and they were going down the drain, and they didn't realize it. Now what's difference today with our hubritic civilization? Well the biggest difference in my view is that there is a very large and quite vocal scientific and actually other communities, telling our hubritic leaders that they're out of their minds. That the last thing in the world a civilization today should be trying to do is get hold of more oil to burn, because what we're running out of is the capacity of our atmosphere to absorb the carbon, the carbon dioxide that is produced when you burn oil. If we had a sensible civilization we would of course be moving very, very rapidly towards--- away from fossil fuels. Because the fossil fuels of course are already getting us into very, very deep trouble. If you look back though, at the history of our civilization, over the last almost a century now, has been focused around getting our hands on oil. It wasn't just the whole Middle East divide up at the end of the at the end of the First World War. The Second World War was very largely about oil--- those of you who are my age will remember bomber raids, plus the oil fields and so on, important that coup was in Hitler's little strategy. We had this little set too, some of you may recall in the Pacific with a country called Japan. Why did we have that? One of the main reasons was embargos on oil, and the Japanese finally choosing, deciding that they couldn't go after the Russians, that they had to move south. They're Southern Strategy, there was a big battle, as some of you may recall, in the Japanese government, before the Second World War on what direction they should go, and they finally tipped towards the south, because of course it was there that the oil was, in the Dutch East Indies. So oil has been a huge part of the human predicament for a long time now, and it is really wise that we all remember that and keep a close eye on what is going on. Well of course, for many audiences people would say what kind of--- people would say: what kind of predicament do we have anyways? Look at us. We're fat and happy. We're doing great. A few of us have been killed trying to keep hold of the oil over in Iraq, but only a thousand or so, and we're in great shape. We dominate the planet---which indeed we do. You might look at the end papers of Nineveh, which has one of my favorite pictures in it of all time. It shows the night time planet aglow with lights created by human beings. We are the dominate animal on the planet by far. We live a wonderful life, for those of you who had dinner already tonight, ate food that probably came on the average from something like 1,400 miles away. Here we are. It's dark outside but it's light inside. We do wonderful things. If it's too cold outside we make it warm inside. If it's too warm outside, we make it cold inside We are an incredible species, so what kind of predicament could we possibly have? I mean, you know I am going to go out tonight after this and get drunk on fine wines. I mean there's no predicament at all. I'm actually going to get drunk on fine wines, because I listened to Condi Rice all. And I know her well. But a little gin will help here, but well of course, there are many aspects of the predicament, and I'm only going to go very briefly through them. But one of the most important, and one of the most overlooked is, that although we are triumphant the we is a very small group. There are probably a billion and a half people live a life anything like ours. There's at least three billion people on the planet who get along on two bucks a day or less. There's something on the order of six hundred million people who don't get enough to eat to be able to do a day's work basically, and with very huge death rates and so on associated with it. In other words, the triumph is very unevenly shared, and curiously enough since the---our hubritic leaders not just including the present administration, have been ignoring the advise of the scientific community for many decades, we now are finding out that the poor people, not only are poorer, but they are acquiring nuclear weapons for themselves which presents a situation that's not entirely attractive. So we have a very unevenlya very unevenly shared predicament, and the rest of it primarily, that a lot of our activities are wrecking our very, our own life support systems. Among other things destroying the ecosystem services, the free services which we get from natural systems, upon which our lives depend. And I'm not going to go through a long litany on that, just to point out to you something that--- by the way a colleague and I wrote an op-ed for The New York Times for two weeks ago, and of course they didn't publish it---but pointing out, because they don't like to make the connections, that the tsunami was not just an act of god. Something on the order of 185,000 people died. Well why did they die? Well there are a lot of reasons. One was a huge earth quake. . Can't do anything about that, we can't squirt glucco in the cracks in the planet, and so on, but we don't have to have ten percent--- excuse me, more than half the people in the world living within ten miles of seacoast. We don't have to have so many people living there, but more than anything else at the short term we didn't have set up shrimp farms and resorts in the place of the mangrove forests that used to line virtually the entire Indian Ocean, and would have prevented most of the run in of the tsunami, and of course, also we didn't have to dynamite and otherwise destroy the coral reefs that also would have given protection. What we said in the op-ed wasn't we knew what was going on entirely. What we said is that before we redevelop these areas, we ought to ask questions like: are there benefits of the shrimp farms for the local people or for people in the United States worth the risk not just of tsunamis, but of course its classic in the Indian Ocean particularly the Bay of Bengal, huge typhoons drive storm surges waiting inland. And if you have resorts and shrimp farms where used to be mangroves, the wave inland gets to be a lot further inland and puts a lot more people at risk. We need to, before we do redevelopment, to do some cost/benefit analysis. That's not considered to be important. You hear almost nothing about that in the media. Of course one the hugestbiggest problems that we have is the pathetic state of the media in the United States. If it isn't infotainment, it's strait propaganda. How many of you have seen Out Foxed--- the little yeah, okay. Don't miss it. It cost ten bucks. You can get it on the internet. It analyzes Fox "news". It's pathetic; some of you may watch the idiot shows on Sunday morning, Face the Nation and so on and so forth. How many of you---and I'm just curious--- how many of you have any technical background engineer or scientists? Some of you are, yeah. Have you ever heard a single coherent sentence from any of those people on a technical issue? At least half our culture is science and technology, our entire future depends on understanding how to control and deal with and so on our technological side, and yet what do we hear from the Krauthammers and the Wills and the Limbaughs and the Bushs and the Condi Rices? None of them could tell you the difference between a kilobase, a kilobyte, a kiloton, you know or a kilowatt. They're utterly clueless on what's going on in the world, and you know we have this confederacy of the clueless running our country and our world. I mean what do you expect? You get exactly, what you well you have a totally uneducated population, or very nearly so. Okay, I'm not going to go on through a big litany of what's wrong with the population, why we're over consuming and so on. Happy to talk about any of those things, but I'd like to move more in a direction of issues, the issue that I think is overriding almost today. When people say to me, what is the single most important thing to do, in terms of the future and saving the environment, and I, when I think about the environmental situation, it isn't just the destruction of ecosystem services the killing off of the organisms that run those services for us, like the mangroves and the coral reefs for flood protection and that sort of thing, it also is the rapid deterioration of our epidemiological environment, not just from bioterrorism, but also as our population gets larger and larger, the odds of novel diseases get higher and higher. You don't hear much about that. I just came back from a two day meeting of the Board of Life Sciences of the National Academy, we meet twice a year. And once again, much of the discussion was on bioterrorism and emergent diseases, and the fact that the CDC is being destroyed, slowly but surely. The best people are leaving, in other words, we are making ourselves defenseless when I think many scientists would say that one of the highest odds of what will kill most of the people in this room, it will be a new red hot flu, or the next type emergent disease like AIDS and so on. All this has been predicted for decades, people have paid no attention. And of course where I first met Jane was on the issue of the environmental effects of nuclear war. There still is a very large chance, some people think bigger all the time of a full scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union by mistake, and again if you listened at all to Condi Rice's testimony today at least a few of our senators were all over her on the issue of the Nunn-Lugar Act and how muchhow incompetent they've been at really pushing it hard, but don't ever forget that the US and the Soviet Union are basically at launch on warning. The Soviets can't---I said excuse me, the Russians, but they're all Soviet built submarines--- that now they can't afford to keep at sea, so they're tied up at the docks, tied up at the docks means that they're on launch on warning. As many of you know in 1996, the launch of a Norwegian sounding rocket to do experiments in the atmosphere, almost led the Russians to launch all of their nuclear weapons at us, and they're all still targeted at us. And they tell youif they tell you that they've detargeted them they're lying to you. It's true in a sense that they've detargeted them, but they launch them without retargeting them, I am absolutely certain that they revert to their previous target. So basically we still have massive nuclear forces aimed at each other, and in I think it was in 96 or 97, they got eight minutes into their fifteen minute countdown, before somebody finally realized that there was something wrong. Their command and control situation had deteriorated to the point where the Russians they were told, the Norwegians told them they were going to launch the rocket, but it never got through the system. And that is one of the things again, you don't hear much about. So as you can see, I don't think the situation is entirely cheery. I think we're in really, really deep trouble, and the answer I think is not---and I hate to say this, and I hope none of my colleges are here---is not primarily in science. The scientific community has long known what directions we should be moving, and that we're not moving. It has spoken out unambiguously on this, repeatedly. Let me just read you a couple of statements, that you might find interesting. I don't want you to think that this is the just the view of one absolutely crazy ecologist, which I agree to be. In 1993 the World Scientists Warning to Humanity which was put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists and you can find the entire statement in the back of the trailer of Science and Reason or you can get it form UCS. "Human beings in the natural world are on a collision course, human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and for plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it may be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent, if we are to avoid the kind of collision that our present course is certain to bring about." That was signed by over 15,000 of the world's leading scientists and over half the world's Nobel, living Nobel Laureates in Science. Same year, 58 academies of science, US National Academy, the Third World Academy, the Chinese Academy, the Australian Academy, the British Royal Society and on, and on, and on, got out a statement on population and related issues, which said in part---I didn't quote all of the World's Scientist Statement either, "The magnitude of the threat is linked to human population size and resource use per person. Resource use, waste production and environmental degradation are accelerated by population growth. They are further exacerbated by consumption habits. With current technologies, present levels of consumption by the developed world are likely to lead to serious negative consequences for all countries. As human numbers further increase, the potential for irreversible changes of far