The 47th anniversary of Earth Day is a good time to review the accuracy of predictions made by leading environmentalists in 1970. We also take this occasion to proffer five of our own prognostications. We have not cherry-picked the most absurd predictions; there were no upbeat predictions made by any environmentalists on the original Earth Day – or on any Earth Day since. Source note: Acknowledgement is due to the American Enterprise Institute and Mark Perry for some of the data herein.
- Harvard biologist George Wald: “Civilization will end within 15 or 20 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.“
- Paul Erlich: “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supply we make. Between 1980 and 1989, 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, will perish in the great die-off.“
- Denis Hayes, the principal organizer for the original Earth Day, wrote in 1970: “It already is too late to avoid mass starvation.”
- Life Magazine reported: “Scientists have evidence to support that within a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution. By 1985 air pollution will have reduced sunlight reaching Earth by one half.“
- Ecologist Kenneth Watt: “By the year 2000 if present trends continue, we will use crude oil at such a rate there won’t be any more crude oil.”
- Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, writing in Scientific American stated that humanity would totally run out of copper soon after 2000 and that lead, zinc, tin, gold and silver would be gone before 1990.
- Dr. Dillon Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute: “In 25 years somewhere between 75% and 80% of all species of living animals will be extinct.”
- Ecologist Kenneth Watt once again: “The world has been chilling sharply for about 20 years. If present trends continue, the world will be 11 degrees cooler in 2000.”
- Biologist Barry Commoner in the scholarly journal Environment: “We are in an environmental crisis threatening the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
- New York Times editorial: “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from possible extinction.“
Res ipsa loquitur pro se, i.e. the reality speaks for itself; I can’t make this stuff up. As often noted in this space, every single one of the top 100 metrics of human and environmental well-being is better today than in 1970 and is continuing to get better all the time. Environmental wackos never learn; the predictions they are making today are every bit as absurd as those they made on the first Earth Day 47 years ago.
Not to be outdone, MLLG proffers five surefire environmental predictions.
- All the top 100 measures of human and environmental well-being will improve.
- Prices (net of inflation) will continue to fall for all metals and natural resources.
- The decade of the 2020s will experience global cooling.
- Billions of additional well-fed humans will inhabit the planet and everyone will live longer and healthier lives. Earth will continue to get ever more cleaner and richer.
- Apocalyptic prophets of environmental doom will continue to spout spectacularly wrong predictions – all of which will be dutifully reported and hyped by the media.
WARNING: The only skunk at this garden party is government – which really could destroy life on Earth. Our fears and those of our children are misplaced. It is big and feckless government that truly threatens this planet, not pollution or climate change.
The next post May 21st is about the end of America’s 25 year long party.