Fifty Years of Trusting the Science

Over Fifty Years of Fifty Years of Trusting the Science

“The trouble with almost all environmental problems,” says Paul R. Ehrlich, the population biologist [sic], “is that by the time we have enough evidence to convince people, you’re dead.”

1966: Oil Gone in Ten Years

1967: Dire Famine Forecast By 1975

1968: Overpopulation Apocalypse

1969: Everyone Will Disappear In a Cloud Of Blue Steam By 1989

1969: Worldwide Plague, Overwhelming Pollution, Ecological Catastrophe, Virtual Collapse of UK by End of 20th Century

1970: America Subject to Water Rationing By 1974 and Food Rationing By 1980

1970: Decaying Pollution Will Kill all the Fish

1970: Ice Age By 2000

1970: Nitrogen buildup Will Make All Land Unusable

1970: Oceans Dead in a Decade, US Water Rationing by 1974, Food Rationing by 1980

1970: Urban Citizens Will Require Gas Masks by 1985

1970: World Will Use Up All its Natural Resources

1970s: Killer Bees!

1971: New Ice Age Coming By 2020 or 2030

1972: New Ice Age By 2070

1972: Oil Depleted in 20 Years

1972: Pending Depletion and Shortages of Gold, Tin, Oil, Natural Gas, Copper, Aluminum

1974: Another Ice Age?

1974: Ozone Depletion a ‘Great Peril to Life (data and graph)

1974: Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast

1975: The Cooling World and a Drastic Decline in Food Production

1976: Scientific Consensus Planet Cooling, Famines imminent

1977: Department of Energy Says Oil will Peak in 1990s

1978: No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend (additional link)

1980: Acid Rain Kills Life In Lakes (additional link)

1980: Peak Oil In 2000

1988: Maldive Islands will Be Underwater by 2018

1988: Regional Droughts in 1990s

1988: Temperatures in DC Will Hit Record Highs

1988: World’s Leading Climate Expert Predicts Lower Manhattan Underwater by 2018

1989: New York City’s West Side Highway Underwater by 2019

1989: Rising Sea Levels will Obliterate Nations if Nothing Done by 2000

1989: UN Warns That Entire Nations Wiped Off the Face of the Earth by 2000 From Global Warming

1996: Peak Oil in 2020

2000: Children Won’t Know what Snow Is

2000: Snowfalls Are Now a Thing of the Past

2002: Famine In 10 Years If We Don’t Give Up Eating Fish, Meat, and Dairy

2002: Peak Oil in 2010

2004: Britain will Be Siberia by 2024

2005 : Manhattan Underwater by 2015

2005: Fifty Million Climate Refugees by the Year 2020

2006: Super Hurricanes!

2008: Arctic will Be Ice Free by 2018

2008: Al Gore Predicts Ice-Free Arctic by 2013

2009:  Al Gore Moves 2013 Prediction of Ice-Free Arctic to 2014

2009: Prince Charles Says we Have 96 Months to Save World (date came and went in 2017)

2009: UK Prime Minister Says 50 Days to ‘Save The Planet From Catastrophe’

2011: Washington Post Predicted Cherry Blossoms Blooming in Winter

2013: Arctic Ice-Free by 2015 (additional link)

2014: Only 500 Days Before ‘Climate Chaos’

My comment: this list does not even mention some of my favorite eco scares, such as DDT thinning bird eggs scare; Alar carcinogen scare; Hole in the ozone layer scare; Mercury in fish scare; Thermal pollution caused by nuclear cooling towers scare; cell phones or high tension power line carcinogen scare; Arsenic in the water scare; Fracking causing earthquakes scare.

Eco-doomsaying is a big business, worth millions of dollars annually, and, as we have recently seen in Sir Lanka, is able to overthrow governments.

There is simply no possible way on earth this continual stream of predictions could be treated with grim, teeth-gritting, eye-squinting, red-faced seriousness and anxiety by the most powerful politics and plutocrats, media moguls and junk scientists, year in and year out, without a common cause, common organization, common agenda.

Eco-doomsaying gives the Powers That Be everything they want with no drawbacks. The alleged crisis is public, massive, hence requires centralized, preferably global, authority to implement; it is a high-minded and philanthropic effort, and so occupies the moral high ground, which delegitimizes opposition not as imprudent, but as evil; it is framed as a matter of life and death,  neutralizing all criticism and opposition, because no time is left for debate (see the quote above); and it necessitates strict control over every aspect of the economy, starting with energy production and use, and, more to the point, control of cropland, cattle, fisheries, world food supplies.

This means, in other words, eco-catastrophe creates a perfect excuse to control every aspect of human behavior, and convinces the unwary to jettison all concern for human liberty, all prudent mistrust of big business and big government acting in concert, and it frames this utmost folly as if it were an act of pristine moral ascendance.

Were there actually a climate crisis, it would stay the same from decade to decade. The crisis would cause cooling or warming, but not both at once.

And if it were real, it would have been solved long ago by a technical solution, not a political solution. But planting trees to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere enriches no political donors, aids no usurpation of power by federal or world authorities, nor aides the growth of any state-run Chinese wind turbine or state-run Chinese solar panel corporations.

I understand why intellectuals believe this stuff. Intellectuals are gullible, conformist, and easily spooked. What I do not understand is why anyone else believes this stuff, given this track record.

Economist Julian Simon famously called this the “reverse Cassandra effect.” Cassandra in myth was disbelieved despite that all her prophecies came true. Paul Ehrlich is the reverse: he is believed all the more strongly the more often his prophecies fail spectacularly.

The reverse Cassandra effect can only be explained if the persons allegedly convinced by the prophecy were actually convinced on unstated and unrelated grounds, and are playacting or pretending to believe.

Simply put, if the Ehrlich faithful were convinced by Ehrlich’s prophecy, their conviction would fail when the prophecy fails. If the conviction remains after the prophecy falls away, then the conviction does not stand atop it. It stands on other grounds.

This is because, at its root, none of these doomsayers gives a Tinker’s Damn about the environment. The Powers That Be use it as an excuse to accumulate power; their sheep all bleat and panic on command, because otherwise the herd may think them nonconformist, or guilty of thoughtcrime.

If Aesop wrote his famous fable today, no doubt the Boy Who Cried Wolf would retire to his mansion on his thousand acre beachfront property, marry Greta Thunberg, and invite Chicken Little to come live with him, as well as the now-wealthy tailors who wove the invisible thread for the Emperor’s New Clothes. And the townsfolk would still come running every time he gave the cry.