Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than to recall the predictions of the first Earth Day back in 1970. Here is a list, courtesy of Freedom Works.

  1. “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”  — Harvard biologist George Wald
  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.” — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
  3. “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”New York Times editorial
  4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
  5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] 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.” — Paul Ehrlich
  6. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
  7. “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.” — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter
  8. “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.” — Life magazine
  9. “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.” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  10. “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” — Paul Ehrlich
  11. “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.'” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  12. “[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.”Newsweek magazine
  13. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. 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.” — Kenneth Watt

For more information about these predictions, read this article from way back in 2000 in 

I grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s and heard these sorts of doomsday predictions all the time. I was young and foolish enough to believe them. I sincerely thought that the world of my future would be an overpopulated, polluted dystopia. As I got older, I happened to notice that none of these gloomy predictions seemed to be coming true. We were not all starving to death or choking on pollution. There was still enough gasoline to fill up our tanks and the price, adjusted for inflation, seemed to be constant. That didn’t stop the doomsday predictions. You might think that the people making these predictions would be relieved that none of them came true. Some them might even admit that they were wrong and try to find out where they erred. No, the predictions kept on coming. Now it is global warming/climate change that is going to destroy the world. Somehow, doomsday keeps getting put off. It is always ten to twenty years in the future.

This is one of the reasons I am skeptical about just about everything the environmentalists claim. I have a working memory and I remember very well the failed predictions that they have made. Since they have been wrong so many times before, why should I start believing them now? At some point you have to consider that they are either mistaken or lying.

Now, you can argue that the stricter pollution control laws enacted since that first Earth Day have prevented the dystopian future that had been predicted. That is undoubtedly true. Advancing technology has also helped. More efficient machines mean less pollution. The Green Revolution has helped to feed billions who would otherwise have starved. But, that also kind of proves my point, at least about predicting the future. People do not just stand by passively as the world falls apart around them. They take action to fix things. This is why future dystopias are never very accurate glimpses of the future. If the world is indeed warming, then people will take action to ameliorate any ill effects caused by changing climates. There is no reason to worry the future and every reason to be optimistic. And remember, we humans do not have the last word on what is going to happen to this world. That is the prerogative of the One who created it.

Canute and the Waves

Canute or Knut was a Viking king who reigned from 1016-1035. At the height of his power, he ruled England, Denmark, Norway, and parts of Sweden. He was a powerful and general good king, known for his statesmanship and good relations with the Church.

According to legend, once he sat his throne at the sea-shore and commanded the tide to halt. It didn’t and he got his shoes and robes wet. If King Canute were alive today, he would probably be an EPA administrator trying to regulate the concentration of naturally occurring components of the atmosphere.

Of course Canute’s intention was to show his flattering nobles how powerless any earthly king was next to the One King of Heaven and Earth. Too bad our modern-day Canutes show no such humility.

My Environmentalist Wacko Class

I generally take a rather dim view of the environmentalist movement. This was not always the case. Long, long ago, when I was very young, I actually considered myself an environmentalist. I followed the environmental party line and wanted to save the planet. I worried about overpopulation, pollution, extinctions, and everything else. If global warming had been in fashion back then, I would have worried about that too.

Two things changed my mind. The first was the simple fact that none of the doom and gloom predictions ever happened. As I grew up, I couldn’t help but notice that we were not all starving to death because of overpopulation. The air and water were getting cleaner, not filthier. There has not been a new ice age, or catastrophic flooding caused by global warming. The empirical evidence seems to disprove Green alarmism.

The second thing that turned me against the environmentalists was the knowledge and insights I gained of their methods and motives when I took an environmental studies class in my senior year at Indiana University. The class was actually called something like “Sustainable Living”. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I thought, vaguely, that it might have something to do with recycling. I was wrong.

“Sustainable Living” was, in fact, a sort of seminar on the subject of “Bioregionalism“. Bioregionalism, in the likely event you have never heard of it, is the idea that everyone should live in small, self-sufficient, semi-tribal communities; that conform to ecological boundaries, and using only appropriate, non-industrial technology.  In effect, Bioregionalism would require a return to the customs and technology of the Neolithic.

Now, the problem with this idea is that most people have not shown much enthusiasm for turning the clock back. They would rather live in AD 2000 than in 10,000 BC. But, then, the people in the “Sustainable Living” class did not intend to ask people what they wanted. More than once, the topic of a day’s class was on how the bioregional way of life could be imposed on the world.

The consensus was that, barring a complete societal collapse, which they rather hoped for, a complete bioregional society, would not be possible within the lifetime of this generation. Nevertheless, some intermediate steps could be taken to prepare the way.

A drastic reduction in population would be essential for a more ecologically sound world. No one was quite willing to come out in favor of mass murder, but it was generally agreed that the fewer people in the world, the better. Therefore, the number of children people should have should be limited. The impact each person has on the earth should be lessened so there should be restrictions on the appliances people could own. Public transportation was preferable to private automobiles, less pollution and all. Meat eating was not only cruel but also wasteful, so everyone would have to be vegans. Travelling about harms the earth, so most people would have to learn to be content to stay in one place.

None of the above actually applied to the Bioregional thinkers and an author of the books and articles on the class’s reading lit. They had no problem living affluent lives themselves and jetting around the world to promoting their theories.

Sitting in a classroom full of Pol Pot wannabes was an illuminating and rather disturbing experience. It left a sour taste in my mouth that has lasted to this day. I have never liked or trusted the Greens ever since and nothing I have read or seen has changed my conclusion that the extreme environmental movement and ideology are profoundly anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-technology, and ultimately anti-human.

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