Some Thoughts From the Original Earth Day

With Lenin’s Birthday Earth Day coming up, here are some thoughts from the original Earth Day back in 1970.  How many times do alarmists have to be wrong before they stop getting such breathless press?

“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 for a 1970 Earth Day issue of “Environment,” a scientific journal.

He did not put an end date to his prediction. But Ehrlich did.

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Ehrlich said in 1970.

“The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

Ehrlich was an optimist compared to Denis Hayes, an aide to Nelson, the chief organizer for the first Earth Day.

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” Hayes said.

“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.”

I am thrilled with the progress we have made on a number of real issues — including air and water pollution — since 1970.  It is unfortunate that our attention to these issues has been diverted by a 20 year obsession with trace amounts of CO2.

  • Ronald Bailey, over at Reason Magazine, wrote a great piece 10 years ago for the 30th anniversary of Earth Day.

    Earth Day, Then and Now

  • Walding

    “With Lenin’s Birthday Earth Day coming up”

    So glad this is an objective, non-politicized, contemporary website. Not that the Cold War is over or anything…

  • Stonyground

    I remember reading about this issue some time ago, I can’t remember which blog it was. There was a whole raft of dire predictions quoted and of course not one of them has come true. It is a surprise that a certain group of people can be so persistantly wrong without losing the smallest bit of credibility.

  • Waldingle

    Right, and blogs are always such reliable sources of information.

  • Curt

    My incredibly sweet friend Pat Seltenright, who lived in Seattle for decades, was one of the creators, if not THE creator, of Earth Day, for which she never took (or received appropriate) credit. She died a few years ago, completely unaware of the bad joke it had been turned into by fanatics, crackpots, and greedy industry. She never preached doomsday.

    Paul Ehrlich has been spouting absurd predictions my entire adult live, with even less accuracy than Sylvia Browne, the world’s worst alleged psychic. He obsession with non-existent misery, famine, and global starvation simple tells us that he is in love with these ideas, and is probably severely mentally ill. Ditto for all the others who wallow in this stuff. Such astounding negativity does nothing to improve the world. But, it does provide income and endless entertainment for the doomsayers. These crackpots can’t even admit when they’re wrong and then change course, a sure sign of obsession or insanity.

  • Pat Moffitt

    In the article “The Birth Of the EPA” (EPA Journal Nov 1985)- Jack Lewis writes:
    “In May 1969, U Thant of the United Nations gave the planet only ten years to avert environmental disaster; the following month, he blamed the bulk of planetary catastrophe on the United States.”

    Not much has changed.

    It should be noted that the man who made Ehrlich’s prediction absurd, Norman Borlaug, recently passed quietly away. Borlaug was the father of the modern agriculture revolution- his wheat varieties ended starvation in many parts of the world. Yet somehow Ehrlich and his coauthor Holdren continue to receive rewards for being wrong while Borlaug passes unnoticed.

  • ADiff

    The ‘End of the World’ is (always) coming. And (still) always profitable … at least for snake-oil salesmen (of all kinds, including politicians, activists and, yes, even ‘climatologists’).

    “Le plus ca change … le plus c’est la meme chose.”

  • Hey Skipper

    From last Friday’s Salon:

    According to Bill McKibben, the respected environmentalist and author of the pioneering “End of Nature,” the planet Earth, as we know it, is already dead.

    Just like any other religious nutter.

  • The climate alarmists remind me of my wife’s aunt’s church.

    The preacher predicted the end of the world and exhorted the true believers to turn over their worldly treasures to build a fine church for the end times. The church was built and the world didn’t end. He said it was because people gave so generously.

    Perhaps if we spend 10’s of trillions of dollars on cap and trade the world will not end. Perhaps if we do nothing it still won’t end. Since the temperature isn’t going up as predicted there should be doubts.

  • Chriskafe

    It’s my birthday too and I object to sharing it with Earth Day and Lenin. Just missed out on Marx and the Queen.

  • hunter

    The track record of those pushing global apocalyptic stories is 0% success rate.

  • George

    How long is it going to take before someone blames the Iceland volcanic eruption on anthropogenic global warming? It looks like they have blamed everything else on it.

  • George

    The royal society of Great Britain has said.

    In papers published by the Royal Society, researchers warned that melting ice, sea level rises and even increasingly heavy storms and rainfall – predicted consequences of rising temperatures – could affect the Earth’s crust.

    That is pretty close.

    I love it when the climate alarmists sound mentally challenged.

    They discredit themselves.

  • Waldup

    “In papers published by the Royal Society, researchers warned that melting ice, sea level rises and even increasingly heavy storms and rainfall”

    I’ve read the press article, netdr, and I’m just curious – has anyone here read the actual paper? And does anyone here know that these predictions are incorrect? I know they seem fantastic, but so do a great many things. Another way to put this, how do you folks know that melting ice, sea level rises and climate don’t affect the Earth’s crust? Just wondering.

  • hunter

    Surface rebound is a well documented reality in areas formerly covered by glaciers, like Canada and much of the northern US and Scandinavia.
    What makes the RS bs is the lack of historical evidence, like ash lines correlating to glacial shrinkage.
    Glaciers have covered much much more area and advanced and retreated over tectonically active areas for millions of years.
    Where is the correlation?
    Only in the AGW promotional fever swamp.

  • Waldangit

    Not that anybody will read them, but here are the papers netdr references:

    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1919.toc

    I mean, really folks, it took, like, six minutes to find…

  • ADiff

    Like the journal says “Philosophical”, pure speculation not based on anything concrete at all. Perhaps useful as such, but not at all to be confused with ‘Science’.

    Once again modern Climate Science shows why the term’s oxymoronic, kinda like Political ‘Science’. In the same sense that CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) isn’t ‘medicine’, Climate Science increasingly reveals it often isn’t Science either.

  • Waltinker

    *****”Like the journal says “Philosophical”, pure speculation not based on anything concrete at all. Perhaps useful as such, but not at all to be confused with ‘Science’.”

    Are you serious, ADiff?

    This from the abstract:

    “The 12 research papers and two summaries of conference discussion sessions contained in this Theme Issue build upon presentations and dialogue at the Third Johnston–Lavis Colloquium held at University College London in September 2009.”

    That is the single lamest cop-out ever. I may have overestimated you.

  • AnotherClimateView

    Curt and Pat hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned. Somehow, the public (all over the world I think) has the idea that science (e.g. Norman Barlaug’s agriculture innovations) is bad and scaremongering pretending to be science must be good. (I’m embarassed that Gore et al won the same Nobel prize that he did. When did it stop meaning something?)

    You only have to read the accolades for Denis Hayes on the web to see the degree to which the (media – academia – government) worship the bearers of imagined or invented bad news.