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The infamous overpopulation bet: Simon vs. Ehrlich - Soraya Field Fiorio

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  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

In 1980, Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon bet $1,000 on a question with stakes that couldn’t be higher: would the earth run out of resources to sustain a growing human population? They bet $200 on the price of five metals. If the price of a metal decreased or held steady over the next decade, Simon won. If the price increased, Ehrlich won. So, what happened? Soraya Field Fiorio investigates.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Soraya Field Fiorio
  • Director Avi Ofer
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Music Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Nirana Singh, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Paul Sabin’s book about the Simon-Ehrlich debate, The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future

NPR’s “A Bet, Five Metals, and the Future of the Planet

New York Times Opinion piece by Paul Sabin in the Sunday Review, “Betting on the Apocalypse”

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Soraya Field Fiorio
  • Director Avi Ofer
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Music Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Nirana Singh, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • See more creators