Permalink to 13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970 — Jon Gabriel

13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970 — Jon Gabriel

 

Today is Earth Day — an annual event first launched on April 22, 1970. The inaugural festivities (organized in part by then hippie and now convicted murderer Ira Einhorn) predicted death, destruction and disease unless we did exactly as progressives commanded. Sound familiar? Behold the coming apocalypse, as predicted on and around Earth Day, 1970:

  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

A version of this article was posted last year on FreedomWorks.com.

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Members have made 52 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Wordcooper Member

    Are any of these idiot savants still making predictions? Or have we just moved on to a new crop?

    • #1
    • April 22, 2014 at 5:48 am
  2. Profile photo of Saxonburg Member

    I remember the population bomb hype. I was in my mid teens and was very close to the family next door, who had 4 kids. When they announced they were having a baby (after a gap of about 10 years), I was very concerned. I just could not understand why they were so happy about it. How could they joyfully add to the crisis? Fortunately I didn’t let them know of my internal reaction. (I was an idiot, but not that kind of idiot.) I grew to love that little girl, too.
    Even so, I think that initial reaction has still been ingrained in much of the US since then. The result: people who can afford to have children do not.

    • #2
    • April 22, 2014 at 6:02 am
  3. Profile photo of Concretevol Thatcher

    It’s a rhetorical question but why aren’t these people ever accountable for their predictions?? It happens over and over again. These people are just alarmists and fear-mongers. The same people that were completely wrong about the cold war were flapping their gums about the Persian Gulf War/Afghanistan/Iraq. Anybody remember the fearful predictions of 100k plus U.S. casualties in the Gulf War? WE MAY RUN OUT OF BODY BAGS!!! THE REPUBLICAN GUARD!!! I’m not saying different opinions shouldn’t be heard, just that if you have been demonstrably wrong over and over again (Paul Ehrlich, Joe Biden) then no one should listen to you.

    Heck some people even said Ryan Leaf would be a better pro than Peyton Manning!!

    • #3
    • April 22, 2014 at 6:12 am
  4. Profile photo of Merina Smith Member

    I remember these predictions, which is why I have been skeptical of all predictions by environmentalists ever since. The good thing is that the scare tactics did lead to some positive environmental moves. I don’t think that is true any more. Thanks for posting these. They were fun to read.

    • #4
    • April 22, 2014 at 6:21 am
  5. Profile photo of Penfold Member

    And yet, if you were to point out these nutso predictions to Earth Day advocates, they’d point out that none of them came true BECAUSE they were courageous enough to raise the alarm. They win, no matter what the final score turns out to be.

    • #5
    • April 22, 2014 at 6:43 am
  6. Profile photo of Hartmann von Aue Member

    Ah, Paul Ehrlich. That a man so educated into imbecility that he doesn’t notice his own prodigious record of failure can live in his own delusion is not surprising. That millions are/were gullible enough to continue listening to him is. Perhaps it should not be be, but I am optimistic enough to think people should notice it and should count it as disqualifying any statement the man ever made from being worthy of belief.

    • #6
    • April 22, 2014 at 7:25 am
  7. Profile photo of concerned citizen Inactive

    Yes. It was these kinds of predictions that surely inspired 1973’s Soylent Green. (Released on April 19, 1973 — surely to coincide with Earth Day.)

    My ninth grade World Civ (? or whatever that class was called) teacher showed it to us in class in the eighties. It amazes me that people were still taking this seriously, even into the mid-eighties.

    We recently showed the movie to our sons, to have some fun with it since it is just so bad but to also make the point. Maybe it ought to still be required viewing for all ninth graders? 

    • #7
    • April 22, 2014 at 7:28 am
  8. Profile photo of Pilli Member

    Concretevol:

    Heck some people even said Ryan Leaf would be a better pro than Peyton Manning!!

     Spoken like a true Vol!

    All these predictions about calamity are simply a way to garner attention to the predictor not to the predicted.

    • #8
    • April 22, 2014 at 7:31 am
  9. Profile photo of Basil Fawlty Member

    concerned citizen:

    Yes. It was these kinds of predictions that surely inspired 1973′s Soylent Green. (Released on April 19, 1973 — surely to coincide with Earth Day.)

    My ninth grade World Civ (? or whatever that class was called) teacher showed it to us in class in the eighties. It amazes me that people were still taking this seriously, even into the mid-eighties.

    We recently showed the movie to our sons, to have some fun with it since it is just so bad but to also make the point. Maybe it ought to still be required viewing for all ninth graders?

     Hey! It wasn’t all bad. I sort of liked the furniture idea.

    • #9
    • April 22, 2014 at 7:55 am
  10. Profile photo of C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    concerned citizen:

    Yes. It was these kinds of predictions that surely inspired 1973′s Soylent Green. (Released on April 19, 1973 — surely to coincide with Earth Day.)

    My ninth grade World Civ (? or whatever that class was called) teacher showed it to us in class in the eighties. It amazes me that people were still taking this seriously, even into the mid-eighties.

    We recently showed the movie to our sons, to have some fun with it since it is just so bad but to also make the point. Maybe it ought to still be required viewing for all ninth graders?

    People still take the Population Bomb theories seriously. They just continue believe it’s a decade or two away.

    • #10
    • April 22, 2014 at 7:56 am
  11. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    In the 1990s I was an e-commerce consultant. This was during the Y2K run-up and I would give presentations on Y2K preparedness.

    In the first slide I compiled every dire prediction about what Y2K would bring. I then asked “Is everyone scared now?”

    In the second slide I had a compilations of other predictions made since 1970 about AD 2000 — including some listed above. We would all starve to death, die from pollution, run out of petroleum, etc. All predicted bad ends, and most contradicted other predictions.

    Then I explained why these predictions now looked so ridiculous. People found solutions for the problems, often because there was a profit to be gained. Everything predicted in the first slide would happen only if no one did anything. But their presence in the transition class indicated that was not happening. 

    Anyhow, there has always been big bucks in predicting catastrophe.

    • #11
    • April 22, 2014 at 7:58 am
  12. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    Like.

    • #12
    • April 22, 2014 at 8:18 am
  13. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    concerned citizen:

    Yes. It was these kinds of predictions that surely inspired 1973′s Soylent Green. (Released on April 19, 1973 — surely to coincide with Earth Day.)

    Soylent Green – The Breakfast of Champions

    • #13
    • April 22, 2014 at 8:21 am
  14. Profile photo of Amy Schley Member

    Misthiocracy:

    Concretevol: It’s a rhetorical question but why aren’t these people ever accountable for their predictions?

    Freakonomics Radio – The Folly of Prediction
    Freakonomics – Should Bad Predictions Be Punished
    Freakonomics – What’s Wrong With Punishing Bad Predictions

    Essentially, bad predictions are covered by the First Amendment.

     I don’t think anyone is asking the government to step in and censor/jail the bad prognosticators. More a question of why don’t they lose their sides jobs as talking heads, if not their actual jobs as ecologists, economists, and demographers.

    • #15
    • April 22, 2014 at 8:36 am
  15. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    Amy Schley: I don’t think anyone is asking the government to step in and censor/jail the bad prognosticators. More a question of why don’t they lose their sides jobs as talking heads, if not their actual jobs as ecologists, economists, and demographers.

    It’s a fair cop.

    • #16
    • April 22, 2014 at 9:03 am
  16. Profile photo of John Davey Member

    Hey man, why do you h8 nature?
    Hail Gaia!

    • #17
    • April 22, 2014 at 9:36 am
  17. Profile photo of George Savage Admin

    The ban on DDT was one actual disaster created by the eco-left. Outlawing the safest and most effective pesticide ever developed killed fifty million people, mainly in the developing world. And more die of malaria each year thanks to a mindset that prioritizes mosquitoes over human beings.

    • #18
    • April 22, 2014 at 9:39 am
  18. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    Amy Schley: More a question of why don’t they lose their sides jobs as talking heads, if not their actual jobs as ecologists, economists, and demographers.

     They do not lose talking head jobs because their dramatic predictions of doom make for great television. Besides, they may not be wrong next time. Even a broken clock . . . .

    They do not lose their day jobs because generally their dire predictions lead to greater grant money. Grant money is king. “The Sky Is Falling And We Need To Find Ways To Stop That” generates grants. “You know, nothing really bad will happen because of “X” and here is why” does not. 

    • #19
    • April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am
  19. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    George Savage:

    The ban on DDT was one actual disaster created by the eco-left. Outlawing the safest and most effective pesticide ever developed killed fifty million people, mainly in the developing world. And more die of malaria each year thanks to a mindset that prioritizes mosquitoes over human beings.

    Haven’t you heard? There are too many humans anyways. They’re expendable. Birds aren’t (unless you’re building a solar power plant or a wind turbine).

    • #20
    • April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am
  20. Profile photo of Mike Rapkoch Member

    I had no idea that I was already dead. I guess I’m too dumb to give up.

    • #21
    • April 22, 2014 at 10:04 am
  21. Profile photo of Concretevol Thatcher

    Amy Schley:

    Misthiocracy:

    Concretevol: It’s a rhetorical question but why aren’t these people ever accountable for their predictions?

    Freakonomics Radio – The Folly of Prediction Freakonomics – Should Bad Predictions Be Punished Freakonomics – What’s Wrong With Punishing Bad Predictions

    Essentially, bad predictions are covered by the First Amendment.

    I don’t think anyone is asking the government to step in and censor/jail the bad prognosticators. More a question of why don’t they lose their sides jobs as talking heads, if not their actual jobs as ecologists, economists, and demographers.

     Yep, why do they still have the term “expert” by their name. If you run a business and are wrong as often as Paul Ehrlich you would be out of business.

    • #22
    • April 22, 2014 at 10:07 am
  22. Profile photo of barbara lydick Member

    Many of us know of the $10k bet Julian Simon made in 1980 with Paul Erlich on the commodity prices of 5 metals. (Erlich said those resources would become scarcer, thus their prices would rise over the following decade; Simon said the prices would decrease.) Simon won hands down — but was only paid $576.07 (tho some progressive economists tried to argue that Erlich did in terms of overall resource depletion, but of course they were wrong).

    Now. Is anyone willing to gamble on the climate change catastrophe issue? Think Gore would be willing to put his new mansion up on a bet? Probably – because the terms would be redefined, then re-redefined in the intervening time period. Thus is the nature of those who would create chaos (read: lies) to frighten the masses. With respect to reality, it becomes a no-win situation with them.

    P.S. Simon offered to raise the wager to $20,000 and to use any resources at any time that Ehrlich preferred. Ehrlich countered with a challenge to bet that temperatures would increase in the future. The two were unable to reach an agreement on the terms of a second wager before Simon died.

    • #23
    • April 22, 2014 at 10:18 am
  23. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    The dire predictions of the ’70s made me the enviro-skeptic I am today. In 1973, my first grade teacher handed out maps showing where the glaciers would appear in our pollution-caused ice age. I warned my mom that our city of Chicago would soon be buried in ice, but she reminded me that we were moving to Phoenix that summer.

    • #24
    • April 22, 2014 at 10:40 am
  24. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: I warned my mom that our city of Chicago would soon be buried in ice, but she reminded me that we were moving to Phoenix that summer.

    Oooh! Mom was thinking ahead. Anyone remember Robert Silverberg’s Time of the Great Freeze? Or this? Great science fiction.

    • #25
    • April 22, 2014 at 10:49 am
  25. Profile photo of Hartmann von Aue Member

    George Savage:

    The ban on DDT was one actual disaster created by the eco-left. Outlawing the safest and most effective pesticide ever developed killed fifty million people, mainly in the developing world. And more die of malaria each year thanks to a mindset that prioritizes mosquitoes over human beings.

     C.f. “Green Power, Black Death”, available here: http://www.eco-imperialism.com/

    • #26
    • April 22, 2014 at 10:56 am
  26. Profile photo of Yeah...ok. Member

    Do you think there was any coordination between the environmentalist and feminists. If one takes as fact that food, water and air will be scare in the near future it’s easier to convince a woman that abortion is not selfish.

    • #27
    • April 22, 2014 at 11:35 am
  27. Profile photo of James Lileks Contributor

    Basil Fawlty:

    concerned citizen:

    Yes. It was these kinds of predictions that surely inspired 1973′s Soylent Green. (Released on April 19, 1973 — surely to coincide with Earth Day.)

    My ninth grade World Civ (? or whatever that class was called) teacher showed it to us in class in the eighties. It amazes me that people were still taking this seriously, even into the mid-eighties.

    We recently showed the movie to our sons, to have some fun with it since it is just so bad but to also make the point. Maybe it ought to still be required viewing for all ninth graders?

    Hey! It wasn’t all bad. I sort of liked the furniture idea.

     You naughty, naughty boy.

    • #28
    • April 22, 2014 at 11:52 am
  28. Profile photo of Miffed White Male Member

    Merina Smith:

    I remember these predictions, which is why I have been skeptical of all predictions by environmentalists ever since. 

     Why restrict it to environmentalists? *Most* predictions are wrong and deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.

    • #29
    • April 22, 2014 at 11:54 am
  29. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Coolidge

    Miffed White Male: Why restrict it to environmentalists? *Most* predictions are wrong and deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.

     I’m not sure if there’s any group apart from maybe politicians who are wrong as often, as publically, and as consequence free as environmentalists. Marxists at least have the decency to be discredited.

    • #30
    • April 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm
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