We here at Classical Values thought Dr. Ehrlich deserved some rebuttal space after the casual dismissiveness of Norman Borlaug.
Accordingly, we dispatched Peabody and Sherman to 1974, where they found this treasure.
It’s not quite as over the top as I might have liked, but I would urge all readers to click over for the pictures alone. Dig on the sideburns, while Plowboy asks the scary questions. Here are just a few highlights…

You see this is going on all over the world with the so-called Green Revolution. Native strains are being replaced everywhere. There’s one place in Turkey where they had 35 indigenous varieties of wheat growing 20 years ago and now they have one.

This is a very dangerous trend, you know, because you’ve got to remember that today’s high yields in agriculture are due not to pesticides and not to other chemicals . . . but to plant genetics. Despite the claims made by the big agribiz companies, we really don’t do any better job of protecting our crops now than we did in 1935. The bugs get resistant to pesticides very quickly. The pests that want to eat our crops are always evolving-always trying to find ways through the defenses we set up-and -the plants we raise, in turn, are always evolving ways to slap down the pests.

Trying to explain this to the agencies that control the money which gets spent to support chemical agribiz, however, is like trying to explain alternate-day gasoline rationing to a cranberry. I mean you’re talking to a blank wall. It’s absolutely incredible.

Paul….maybe it’s all in your presentation.

If you want to know the truth, I’d say that the biggest mistake mankind ever made was the agricultural revolution. We were a great hunting and gathering animal. If you look-and I have, I’ve lived with Eskimos and seen bushmen and aborigines and so on-you may be struck, as I have, by the fact that each individual in that kind of society was-at least before they had contact with us-almost a carrier of a full culture. Every individual knew exactly where he or she fit into the picture, had more personal worth and was less alienated than any member of our modern civilization.

Every individual…had more personal worth…than any of us.

PLOWBOY: And we are destroying the world . . . in an ever increasing number-of ways: with strip mining, clear cutting, industrial pollution, chemical warfare, nuclear waste and hundreds of other “weapons” that our ancestors never dreamed of. Since we’ve been talking about agriculture, however, let’s stick to that subject just a little longer. Look at what agribiz is doing to this country. Look at what it’s doing to this state-California-alone! How long are we going to continue silting and salting out the valleys of California so that Chicago and New York can eat through the winter?

EHRLICH: Well what can you do but raise more and more salt resistant crops? There is a limit to that game, of course, but we never seem to learn. We’re not only wearing out the soil, we’re covering it with houses. According to Ken Watt, half the good farmland in California will be covered with subdivisions and concrete by 2020 if we continue building developments at the current rate. But what the hell . . . the “experts” tell us that we’ll just use some scientific magic to either grow twice as much on what’s left or to make artificial foods of some kind.

PLOWBOY: And what do you see coming? What’s the best we can expect?

EHRLICH: Taking the world view, the best we can hope for will be that humanity will finally come to its senses and organize to ameliorate the time of crisis we’re coming to. This means that, although a lot of people will die young, the whole system won’t quite break down because even the people who are in trouble will realize that other people are trying to help them and it will all become a cooperative operation. Now that is utopian to say the least and I don’t expect to see things go that well. save a lot of energy and, in my opinion, have a great deal more fun. At any rate, that’s the best practical case I can see-the planet’s population will fall drastically sometime in the next decade or two for very unfortunate reasons, but the whole world will not be totally destroyed in the process-and it means that an awful lot of poor people are simply going to be written off.

That’s the BEST? We won’t QUITE break down? Paul! You’re scaring the kids.

PLOWBOY: Paul, you paint a damn realistic and an awfully pessimistic view of the future. Yet you point out all of these horrible scourges and catastrophes hovering there on the horizon with the warmest good humor and the calmest attitude imaginable. How do you manage to keep your sanity when-day after day-you peer into the coming decade and see so many possibilities for complete and utter calamity?

Was it the Genius Grant Paul? No, wait, that’s still years in the future.

EHRLICH: Listen, once you understand the forces that mankind is playing with and once you’ve reviewed our track record and projected it ahead a few years, you have two choices: A, you can put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. Or, B, you can do everything within your power to change the course of history while you simultaneously delight in the natural wonders of this magnificent planet. I prefer the second.

Man, I just HATE those awkward binary choices!
Don’t you?
UPDATE: File these under too good not to print.
“any scientist who thinks he’s any good is egotistical, but my ego is tied up in arcane arguments about numerical taxonomy. I don’t have any ego involvement in giving out autographs. At the same time I’m not sitting around feeling oppressed about it either, I don’t find it difficult to shoot my mouth off.”
“Most of the people who are vitally concerned about the future of the planet and its inhabitants, though, do nothing but cheer every time Paul speaks.”
“Paul Ehrlich is a long, lean, physically fit dynamo…”
UPDATE: If you enjoyed the salt water farming links above, you might also like this cached thread from Metafilter. There’s a teensy lil’ bit of Green GMO paranoia to it. You get the feeling that at least one poster would like the project better if didn’t depend on corporate funding. I particularly liked their link to this Kaplan piece in Atlantic Monthly. Also, a possibly “sinister” connection is uncovered, which leads us to iconoclastic billionaire John Sperling. Good Stuff.
How many people do you suppose are aware that Malthus changed his mind?