The Forum of Free Enterprise is a non-political organization founded in 1956 by A. D. Shroff and has been established to educate public opinion in India on free enterprise and a democratic way of life. The Forum publishes booklets to further its objects. The following booklet titled “Population Growth, Environment and Economic Development” was published on June 14, 1997, and was authored by Julian L. Simon. The author takes a bold and optimistic stance on population growth, environment and economic development. He argues that the current gloom-and-doom about a “crisis” of our environment is all wrong on the scientific facts. He highlights that population economists and even organizations such as the World Bank now recognize the absence of any statistical evidence of a negative connection between population increase and economic growth. According to him, the increase in the world’s population represents our victory over premature death. He notes that the most important benefit of population size and growth is the increase it brings to the stock of useful knowledge.
Moreover, he argues that the data clearly shows that natural resource scarcity- as measured by the economically meaningful indicator of cost or price has been decreasing rather than increasing in the long run for all raw materials, with only temporary exceptions from time to time. Even the famine deaths due to insufficient food supply have decreased in absolute terms, let alone relative to population, in the past century. He further argues that the evidence with respect to air indicates that pollutants have been declining, especially the main pollutant particulates. With respect to water, the proportion of monitoring sites in the U.S. with water of good drinkability has increased since the data began in 1961. In his concluding remarks, he highlights that another crucial element in the economics of resources and population is the extent to which the political, social, economic system provides personal freedom from government coercion.