Sure, the future looks dim: The sun will beat down on a crusted Earth, baby seals will have no ice to sit on, and the air will be filled with locusts, frogs, and the dreaded no-see-ums.
But that’s our future according to the climate scientists, so it just makes sense for the rest of us to take the appropriate steps to find a way to live with the global catastrophe that is here now (according to some) or coming our way fast. Forewarned is forearmed.
When I look back at the predictions of the prophesying pundits in 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, I see that ecologist Kenneth Watt predicted that by the year 2000, “we will be using up crude oil at such a rate that there won’t be any more crude oil.”
I remember well, don’t you, when the oil wells ran dry all over the world? Happily, I had prepared for that terrible day: I sold my gas-guzzling car and bought a Pedicar, which I now pedal to the grocery store with the bounteous Marie perched on the luggage rack, Safeway shopping bag in hand.
In January of 1970, Life magazine breathlessly reported that scientists now have solid evidence to support the following prediction: “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution.”
Naysayers, I can hear it now: Scoff, scoff, scoff. That’s all you Republican naysayers do. Science deniers!
Needless to say, I bought a gas mask in 1980, the year Life predicted we’d have to wear gas masks to survive. That was 38 years ago, and I’m still alive due to my mask (though five years ago I switched to one of those chic little smog masks the Japanese wear. Mine is black). You naysayers are probably dead of carbon dioxide asphyxiation. Serves you right.
Kenneth Watt again: “If present trends continue. . . the world will be eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
When the year 2000 arrived, I bought a very handsome pair of woolen onesies. As it turned out, that was a bit warm for Portland, but there was an upside: I now look as cool as a Portland hipster in my woolen onesie, black face mask, and pork pie hat. I attend all the eco-protests and am widely admired for my outfit.
Paul Ehrlich (April 1970), the greatest of all the prognosticators, had this to say about food resources in the future: “The death rate will increase until at least 100 to 200 million people per year will starve to death during the next ten years.”
As a result of Ehrlich’s prediction, I stocked my larder with Mormon apocalypse food — everything freeze-dried, canned, and hermetically sealed. It should be enough to keep Marie and me alive until it’s safe to emerge after the Gentiles and zombies are gone.
I am encouraged that Bill Nye the Science Guy agrees with Ehrlich’s warnings. But Nye goes Ehrlich one step further. Like Ehrlich, Nye thinks that people are having too many children. But Nye wants to penalize couples for having too many children. Raise your hand Ricocheters if you have too many children. OK, now turn one of them into the authorities. I would choose your least favorite.
The Science Guy may not have a Ph.D., but he does have a bow tie, a lab coat, and his last name rhymes with Science Guy. He may not be a scientist, but the guy does know how to brand himself.
Here’s a report from Harvard, home of the smartest people in the world. In 1970, one of those smartest people, Harvard biologist George Wald, predicted that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken. . . .”
I don’t remember civilization dying off, but I’m pretty sure it did. I think I remember a story in The Oregonian about the Vandals and Goths sacking Rome, but I’m not entirely sure of that.
We now turn to the greatest eco-disaster predictor of them all, Al Gore, whose predictions of a catastrophic future were so spot on that the Nobel Committee gave him a Nobel Prize (every bit as deserving as Obama’s) for his 2006 movie, An Inconvenient Truth. In that movie, Gore predicted that the polar bears would soon be drowning due to lack of ice to stand on.
Two years later, in 2008, Gore doubled down on his prediction: “The entire north polar ice cap,” Gore said, “will be gone in 5 years.”
I haven’t been up there, but I trust that the ice cap has now disappeared. It has, hasn’t it? What a terrible fate for the polar bears. They just swim and swim and can’t find a piece of ice. Then the poor things sink to the bottom of the warm water that the North Pole has become. Sad.
Once the ice caps have melted, according to Gore, “the oceans will rise 20 feet.” Once again, I trust in Gore’s visions — I have no doubt that New Orleans is now 20 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. I never liked New Orleans anyway, with their little beignets, crawfish pie (has there ever been a dish more unappetizing?), and corny Dixieland Jazz. Just in case the Pacific Ocean reaches Portland, I have bought scuba gear for me and Marie.
Lest we think that the climate scientists are gun shy because of the backbiting and scoffing by climate change deniers (mostly anti-science Republicans), just a few weeks ago the climate scientists of the US Global Change Research Program predicted that mosquitoes, ticks (but no locusts or frogs), and increasing depression and suicides are coming our way because of global warming. I have bought a case of Coppertone for the sun, Deet for the insect bites, and a gallon of Prozac for depression. I would follow my example if I were you.
I am a little confused, though. In the 1970s the climate scientists thought that the ice age was going to return. But now they think it’s going to be hot, hot, hot. So I don’t know whether to buy an air conditioner or a flint fire-starter in order to survive the coming apocalypse.
It’s been said that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Happily, our apocalyptic prophets have received honors galore. They have won Nobel Prizes, Harvard professorships, and government stipends.
These prizes only prove my point. They wouldn’t hand out prizes if the eco-disasters the climate scientists predicted hadn’t panned out, would they? Would they? Also, the fact that the Nobel Prize Committee hasn’t taken back Gore’s Nobel Prize is just another indication that his predictions materialized just the way he said they would.
Repent, climate change deniers, the end is near!