# Random Samples

Science  25 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5948, pp. 1605
1. # Dealing With Denial

Paul Ehrlich is still out to save the world. A generation after sounding the alarm about overpopulation, the Stanford University biologist and colleagues have launched an effort called MAHB (pronounced “mob”)—the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior. Its aim is to penetrate public apathy and denial and prod social scientists to look into the behavioral aspects of Earth's problems.

“I'm trying to … get a global discussion going,” says Ehrlich. Science has laid out the problems—climate change, food and water crises, loss of biodiversity, and toxins in the environment—in great detail, the group argues on a new Web site, mahb.stanford.edu, “yet society stubbornly refuses to take comprehensive steps to deal with them and their drivers,” the first of which is population growth. When Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, died last week, “the blogs were full of ‘This is the person who proved Ehrlich wrong’” in his dire prophecies, says Ehrlich. “What we need is a total change in the way we think about these problems. … We need to start talking very frankly about what people want and what they can have.”

Ehrlich, 77, says that at present MAHB's core group, including atmospheric scientist Stephen Schneider and Donald Kennedy, former editor-in-chief of Science, is focusing on getting the word out. A “world megaconference” is planned for 2011.