I'm sort of optimistic about what we could do, but I'm very pessimistic about what we will do. I can't tell you that Al Gore's 10-year plan is impossible. I'm old enough to remember the Second World War - if we had a World War II-type mobilization, we might accomplish Gore's plan. In 1940 we were making tens of thousands of automobiles, and in 1941 we were making tens of thousands of airplanes. We mobilized as a nation. If we get that kind of mobilization as a nation or globally, then we could solve a lot of these problems.

Paul R. Ehrlich

We know that if you have $20 million, it's better to buy a van Gough print than it is buy an executive jet, from the point of view of the environment. But when you start getting down, it's like the recycling question: What are things we can really afford to do, and how much pleasure do we get out of them? We haven't even started to have that discussion, and it's getting awfully late.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Organisms are starting to move in response to climate change all over the place. Bees are disappearing and we don't have many of the native pollinators left to replace them. We're in deep trouble; there's no question about it. But ecologists tend to think of something that's going to be bad in ten years as very fast, and of course, politicians only think of things in a two-, four-, six-year cycle.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Here's the scientific community saying, fundamentally, "If we don't change our ways, we're screwed." And they got no attention at all. Even though the Union of Concerned Scientists put out this statement which was signed by more than half of all the Nobel laureates in science and another 1,500 distinguished scientists.

Paul R. Ehrlich

I thought if the climate was heating that CO2 was the only forcing, and it would be late in the century before we had trouble. Now that we know about the other half of the forcing, it's obvious that the trouble is coming much sooner.

Paul R. Ehrlich

It turns out the population issue is an easier thing to deal with than the consumption issue. Some obvious extremes in consumption we can deal with. The standard cure for a stuttering economy is to go out and buy an SUV and three more refrigerators. That's obviously not the way to go.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Historically, things were moving in a pretty good direction until the Reagan presidency. And then it all got reversed. The Mexico City policy was instituted - the idea of wrecking the environment for this generation's profit and forgetting about our gets got firmly embedded. I'm sad to say the Clinton administration didn't turn it around and the Bush administration, well, I think they're the worst administration we've ever had, and I used to be a Republican.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticides, multiplying contrails, inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too much carbon dioxide - all can be traced easily to too many people.

Paul R. Ehrlich

We ought to take good care of everybody we have on the planet, but we ought to regulate the rate at which people join us. The old saying is, "It's the top of the ninth inning, and humanity has been hitting nature hard, but you've always got to remember that nature bats last."

Paul R. Ehrlich

Most of the scientists I know think civilization is teetering on the brink of a global disaster. They just don't know when it's going to hit. I don't have the answer to that either. I'm scared as hell.

Paul R. Ehrlich

There are a lot of signs. One of the things that makes me most nervous is the disappearance of the frogs. They're going downhill all over the planet. Frogs are susceptible to all kinds of problems, because they require water to breed and their skin is very porous. Their condition is nerve racking.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Solving the population problem is not going to solve the problems of racism, of sexism, of religious intolerance, of war, of gross economic inequality. But if you don't solve the population problem, you're not going to solve any of those problems. Whatever problem you're interested in, you're not going to solve it unless you also solve the population problem. Whatever your cause, it's a lost cause without population control.

Paul R. Ehrlich

If we were redesigning around people instead of around automobiles, which I think the market is more or less going to do, although too slowly, than I'd be a lot cheerier.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Overall, The Population Bomb was probably too optimistic. I was writing about climate change - Anne and I actually wrote the book. We discussed whether or not you'd have to take a gondola to the Empire State Building, and that sort of thing, but we didn't know at the time whether the climate change would be in the direction of heating or cooling. We just didn't know enough about it.

Paul R. Ehrlich

With taxes, if they aren't working right, we can change them with a stroke of the pen. It's basically a market-type mechanism. People make their own choices. You run the taxes, and you get the results.

Paul R. Ehrlich

There's no question at all that the population explosion will come to an end. The two basic choices are it'll come to an end because we control our reproduction, and in many areas we have started to do so, or we'll end up with a high death rate. You have to take a personal moral stand on this.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Sometimes I think the Congress feels that if you only decided tomorrow to switch to wind power that in two years we'd be getting 80 percent of our electricity from wind power. It's nonsense. Normally it takes 20 to 30 years after a new technology is demonstrated and deployed before it powers even 15 or 20 percent of the grid. There's this long lag time, and we haven't even decided which directions to go.

Paul R. Ehrlich

I don't think scientists can dictate from above what we should do, because it's not a matter of scientific decision. If you want to have everybody living like a Beverly Hills millionaire, then 2 billion people might be too many. If we want to have a battery-chicken kind of world, with everybody having an absolute minimum diet, you might be able to support 10 billion.

Paul R. Ehrlich

All scientists who've looked at it know we have to phase away from burning fossil fuels. That means we've got to put a lot of effort into alternate energy technologies, but we're still subsidizing fossil fuels and not subsidizing most of the alternatives. It's not going to be an easy transition.

Paul R. Ehrlich

The drilling idea is spherically senseless - it's senseless from whatever point of view you look at it. It'd take 10 years to bring any oil online, and it would probably go to Japan. It sure wouldn't help gasoline prices here. All the economists say gasoline is still too cheap in the United States anyway. So here we're having this huge debate over offshore drilling that is just straightforward nonsense, which won't surprise you.

Paul R. Ehrlich

There's all of this stuff where we have so much debate over nonsense; it could be cured if we had a better educational system, if we trained people to really try and look into things on their own. That's a tough thing to do, particularly with the educational system staggering.

Paul R. Ehrlich

Your children should have it impressed upon them that their adult life-style will bear very little resemblance to yours and that they should now be acquiring knowledge, skills, values, and tastes that will sustain them in less materially affluent circumstances. On the other hand, the fresh insights and imaginations of your children may help you find a viable future while there's still time.

Paul R. Ehrlich

In ten years [i.e., 1980] all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.

Paul R. Ehrlich