Canonizing Environmental Alarmism

Ten years ago, Ted Turner made a prophecy that within three to four decades, the earth will be eight degrees warmer, crops will be unable to grow, most of the population will be dead, and the rest of us will be eating each other.

There’s no way to conclusively prove him right or wrong, I suppose, but it’s worth examining the track record of similar statements made by alarmist blowhards over the years.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Let’s begin with easy pickins:

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.
—Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)

No population control. And no worldwide famines, either. Go figure.

I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.
—Paul Ehrlich (1969)

I’m writing this while I’m visiting England, so I’m personally glad he got this wrong. But I still wish I would have taken that bet.

In ten years 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 Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)

Umm… ok. The only time anyone evacuates the coastline is if they see a fat guy in a mankini.

In the coming decade, we could expect to lose all of Florida, Washington D.C., and the Los Angeles basin…we’ll be in rising waters with no ark in sight.
-Paul Ehrlich on global warming floods, May 1989

Yeah, Los Angeles is still there, too. If it’ll make Ehrlich feel better, I don’t think anyone’s really happy about it.

I could fill this post up with nothing but stupid Paul Ehrlich quotes. He’s been wrong about everything. Not just wrong, but spectacularly, mind-boggingly wrong. Lest you think he’s an outlying loon, know that he’s still one of the most respected environmental commentators alive today. Al Gore, on the dust cover for one of Ehrlich’s books, wrote “The time for action is due, and past due. Ehrlich has written the prescription.”

Moving on:

“This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.”
—Lowell Ponte in “The Cooling”, 1976

Could, but it didn’t. Not even close. Next:

“If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. … This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.”
—Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, Earth Day, 1970

I love that phrase “If present trends continue.” It sounds so scientific, but it’s so preposterous.

You know, if present trends continue, and the days keep getting shorter, as they’ve been getting since the Summer Solstice two months ago, we will eventually have no more day time! Ever! Of course, present trends don’t continue, and the days start to get longer again after the Winter Solstice. But then, if those present trends continue, the days will continue to get longer, and then we’ll have no more nighttime! Ever!

Present trends don’t tend to continue into the territory the doomsayers anticipate.

“In a decade, America’s mighty rivers will have reached the boiling point.”
-Edwin Newman, Earth Day 1970

And this was back when the earth was cooling! Not sure how this genius came up with that one, but there you go.

“Quickly capping 363 oil well fires in a war zone is impossible. The resulting soot might well stretch over all of South Asia. Beneath such a pall sunlight would be dimmed, temperatures lowered and droughts more frequent. Spring and summer frosts may be expected… This endangerment of the food supplies… appears to be likely enough that it should affect the war plans…”

– Carl Sagan, 1991, warning of a nuclear winter if Kuwait’s oil wells were set ablaze.
Well, they were set ablaze, and billyuns and billyuns of gallons were burned, but they were quickly capped with minimal environmental damage. (Actually, I doubt it was billyuns. Maybe just millyuns.)

“We have ten years to save the world’s oceans.”
– Ted Danson, 1988.

So now, thirty years on, what do we do, having missed the deadline?

“The environment is in trouble – and the more it suffers, the tougher it is on your skin….”
– Seventeen magazine, 1991, warning about the dangers of the then-disappearing, now-reappearing ozone layer.

Do they still print Seventeen magazine? At least something’s disappearing, anyway.

I could go on, but you get the point. And you may well disagree with it. Join a camp below and let the world know where you stand.