Celebrate Every Failed Alarmist Eco-Prediction: 18 Spectacularly Wrong Earth Day Predictions
Happy Earth Day! When We Celebrate Every Failed Alarmist Prediction
Nicolas Loris, Bangor Daily News, 22 April 2019
This Earth Day, it almost feels like we should be carving some turkey. Why? Because we have a lot to be thankful for since the first Earth Day event occurred 49 years ago.
We should be thankful that the gloom-and-doom predictions made throughout the past several decades haven’t come true. Fear-mongering about explosive population growth, food crises and the imminent depletion of natural resources have been a staple of Earth Day events since 1970. And the common thread among them is that they’ve stirred up a lot more emotions than facts.
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate … that there won’t be any more crude oil,” ecologist Kenneth Watt warned around the time of the first Earth Day event.
“You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ’er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” Watt also warned of global cooling and nitrogen buildup rendering all of the planet’s land unusable.
The issue, however, is that present trends do not continue. They change dramatically for a number of reasons. Innovation happens. Consumer behavior changes. Importantly, price signals play a huge role in communicating information to energy producers as well as consumers. Higher prices at the pump encourage companies to extract and supply more oil. Expensive gas prices, meanwhile, motivate entrepreneurs to invest in alternatives to oil, whether that’s batteries, natural-gas vehicles or biofuels. Drivers will examine their consumption options as well, whether carpooling, finding alternative modes of transportation or, over time, purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Here we are, 19 years past Watt’s arbitrary deadline, and drivers are pulling up to the pump saying, “Fill ’er up, buddy” (figuratively speaking, as Watts also didn’t foresee self-service stations) without any cause for concern. Thanks to human ingenuity and the entrepreneurial drive of energy producers, the United States is now the world’s largest oil producer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — and continually breaking records.
While global energy poverty and food insecurity remain a pressing challenge, the problems are getting much better, not worse. World Bank and United Nations data show extreme poverty and global hunger has noticeably droppedsince 1970. And according to the International Energy Agency, the number of people without access to electricity fell to below 1 billion people for the first time.
Clearly, there’s work to be done. But signs are pointing in the right direction.
In the United States, the common perception is that the country’s environmental state is deteriorating. On the contrary, through investment in new technologies, and through legislation, environmental trends have improved significantly in the United States. Pollutants known to cause harm to public health and the environment are declining. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest air quality trends report, the combined emissions of the six common air pollutants have decreased 73 percent between 1970 and 2017.
We should be thankful for economic liberties that provide people with the means to protect the environment. As a country grows economically, it increases the financial ability of its citizens and businesses to care for the environment and reduce pollutants emitted from industrial growth. Countries with greater economic freedoms have cleaner environments and greater environmental sustainability.
The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom and Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index show a highly positive correlation between a country’s environmental performance and its economic freedom.
Freer economies have access to more products and technologies that make our lives healthier and the environment cleaner. For instance, the availability of simple products such as soaps, cleaners and detergents makes our homes dramatically cleaner and healthier. The development of sanitation systems and availability of garbage collection greatly reduce many types of diseases and curb toxins in the air and water.
These products and services may not be what immediately come to mind on Earth Day, but they’ve have an enormous impact on cleaning up the planet.
And we should be thankful for clearly defined and protected private property rights. One of the first lessons I learned in economics is that nobody washes a rental car — because you don’t care for what you don’t own.
Property rights are a central hallmark in the United States and around the world for improved environmental stewardship, conservation and health of species, wildlife, habitats, forests and other resources.
The absence of enforced private property rights in developing countries remains one of the largest barriers to improved prosperity and environmental well-being.
2) 18 Spectacularly Wrong Earth Day Predictions: Expect More This Year
Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem AEIdeas, 22 April 2019
[Today] is Earth Day 2019 and time for my annual Earth Day post on spectacularly wrong predictions around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970…..
In 1970, millions were fooled by apocalyptic predictions that never came true
In the May 2000 issue of Reason Magazine, award-winning science correspondent Ronald Bailey wrote an excellent article titled “Earth Day, Then and Now: The planet’s future has never looked better. Here’s why” to provide some historical perspective on the 30th anniversary of Earth Day. In that article, Bailey noted that around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, and in the years following, there was a “torrent of apocalyptic predictions” and many of those predictions were featured in his Reason article.
Well, it’s now the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, and a good time to ask the question again that Bailey asked 19 years ago: How accurate were the predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970? The answer: “The prophets of doom were not simply wrong, but spectacularly wrong,” according to Bailey.
Here are 18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:
1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.
3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”
7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.
8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.
12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.
13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).
14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.
16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”
18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
MP: Let’s keep those spectacularly wrong predictions from the first Earth Day 1970 in mind when we’re bombarded in the next few days with media hype, and claims like this from the Earth Day website:
Global sea levels are rising at an alarmingly fast rate — 6.7 inches in the last century alone and going higher. Surface temperatures are setting new heat records about each year. The ice sheets continue to decline, glaciers are in retreat globally, and our oceans are more acidic than ever. We could go on…which is a whole other problem.
The majority of scientists are in agreement that human contributions to the greenhouse effect are the root cause. Essentially, gases in the atmosphere – such as methane and CO2 – trap heat and block it from escaping our planet.
So what happens next? More droughts and heat waves, which can have devastating effects on the poorest countries and communities. Hurricanes will intensify and occur more frequently. Sea levels could rise up to four feet by 2100 – and that’s a conservative estimate among experts.
Climate preacher/scientist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez predicted recently that “We’re like… the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” You can add that to the spectacularly wrong predictions made this year around the time of Earth Day 2019.
Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030?
3) Happy Groundhog Day!
Steve Hayward, Power Line, 22 April 2019
Groundhog Day Earth Day everybody! You can see how it is possible to confuse the two, since Earth Day is the same every year—we’re doomed unless you hand over complete power to the government to manage people and resources.
Think I exaggerate? Well, here’s The Guardian to remind us once again:
Climate change activism is increasingly the domain of the young, such as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the unlikely face of the school strike for climate movement, which has seen many thousands of children walk out of school to demand that their parents’ generation takes responsibility for leaving them a planet to live on.
Well yes, it is true that climate alarmism is increasingly fit only for children. But to continue:
Climate change is the result of our current economic and industrial system. GND-style proposals marry sweeping environmental policy changes with broader socialist reforms because the level of disruption required to keep us at a temperature anywhere below “absolutely catastrophic” is fundamentally, on a deep structural level, incompatible with the status quo. . .
We need to fundamentally re-evaluate our relationship to ownership, work and capital. The impact of a dramatic reconfiguration of the industrial economy require similarly large changes to the welfare state. Basic incomes, large-scale public works programmes, everything has to be on the table to ensure that the oncoming system shocks do not leave vast swathes of the global population starving and destitute. Perhaps even more fundamentally, we cannot continue to treat the welfare system as a tool for disciplining the supposedly idle underclasses. Our system must be reformed with a more humane view of worklessness, poverty and migration than we have now. . .
Silly me: I used to think the agitation about climate change was about . . . climate change. But as always environmentalists can’t help themselves. This has been true since the beginning. As The New Republic wrote at the time of the first Earth Day in 1970: “Ecology offered liberal-minded people what they had longed for, a safe, rational and above all peaceful way of seeming to remake society . . . [and] developing a more coherent central state. . .”
Or, if you want another example of the academic dementia on the issue, take in this abstract from an article published last week in Nature and Space, by Mount Holyoke Prof. Kevin Surprise:
Stratospheric imperialism: Liberalism, (eco)modernization, and ideologies of solar geoengineering research