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    13 Worst Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970

    The 1970s were a lousy decade. Embarrassing movies, dreadful music and downright terrifying clothes reflected the national mood following an unpopular war, endless political scandals and a faltering economy.

    Popular culture was consumed with decline, especially Hollywood. The Omega Man, Soylent Green, Damnation Alley and countless other dystopian films showed a planet wrecked by war, pollution and neglect. In large part, the entertainment industry was reflecting the culture at large.

    In 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated — okay, “celebrated” doesn’t capture the funereal tone of the event. The events (organized in part by then hippie and now convicted murderer Ira Einhorn) predicted death, destruction and disease unless we did exactly as progressives commanded.

    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
    Quotes from "Earth Day, Then and Now," by Ronald Bailey, Reason.com. May 1, 2000.

    Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.

    12 comments
    Michael Craig
    04/23/2013

    "if present trends continue"

    The above caveat is the problem. We have never been able to predict if trends will continue or change. Why would anyone think that temperature trends or other climatic trends would be any different?

    Glenn Strickler
    04/23/2013

    The problem with many predictions then and now is that these supposedly educated people assume no technological advancement in the time period they are predicting. To their own detriment they also will comment on subjects that they have no formal education or have never studied. Such people do nothing but hold us back.

    M Warfel
    04/23/2013

    Free Enterprise and capitalism have allowed us to discover solutions to our challenges. We use oil more efficiently, substitute other products and ways of doing things, etc. the ideas of the common man can be tested and when they work can be spread through society, making that common man wealthy, along with everyone else who helped spread the new idea or product. Problems are only insurmountable when approached from a centralized planning, top down, big government perspective. When everything is controlled and centralized, everything becomes politicized. Freedom allows the people to choose how to solve problems, and we can all turn on a dime.

    M Warfel
    04/23/2013

    It was NOT deregulation that caused our crisis, it was the government forcing banks to give money to people who had no reasonable chance of paying it back. It was to avoid the inevitable crash that the banking industry then lobbied for more freedom to sell those worthless mortgages. When government squeezes the balloon, it either causes distortions to squeeze out elsewhere or the balloon pops. Government squeezing the balloon is the first cause, everything else is just the reaction of people trying to escape the tyranny. THE BIG LIE is that we need more government to fix what big government breaks...

    Monk Mann
    04/22/2013

    The problems discussed were mitigated by increasing food production thanks to the use of oil. But because of that, demand for various resources (including oil) went up as more people worldwide joined the middle class. That's why oil production has not been able to catch up with demand since 2005. Worse, oil production per capita worldwide peaked back in 1979.

    Also, the effects of global warming started during the mid-'1970s due to increased use of oil, leading to problems being encountered today, including droughts, droughts, melting sea ice, etc. Ironically, even today we're still underestimating the effects. For example, various positive feedbacks were noted only recently.

    We're also experiencing a global financial crisis caused, ironically, by deregulation, as investors engaged in risky ventures, leading to a global "shadows" derivatives market of more than a quadrillion dollars. The 2008 crash involved only a fraction of that, and governments can no longer bail out banks.

    With that, we may actually be back in the 1970s, with high oil and food prices, chronic unemployment, etc.

    laceygreenwood
    04/22/2013

    Saying there will be famines causing millions to starve is a totally false supposition. Shiploads of grain are dumped in the oceans to keep prices high, as well as uncountable millions of gallons of milk wasted for the same reason. Man is capable of maintaining this earth and feeding, housing & clothing everyone on it. But since he is a fallen creature, he uses this good earth for selfish profit and greed, and turns the earth into a garbage dump while letting his fellow man suffer needlessly. We are pitiful creatures indeed.

    Tim David
    04/23/2013

    Hey Brad, I have a better question. Do you not understand the difference between unfounded assertions and facts? Laceygreenwood made a series of assertions, with absolutely no citations of evidence. That does not make them facts. Gratuitously stated assertions can be equally gratiutously denied. If Laceygreenwood can site some articles proving what was claimed, then the assertions become facts. Until then, bill smith's responses are as valid as lacey's assertions. Understand?

    Brad Hayashi
    04/23/2013

    Hey, Bill. Do you not understand plain English and facts?

    bill smith
    04/22/2013

    put the vicks formula 44 bottle down

    bill smith
    04/22/2013

    come again?

    Jack Lee
    04/22/2013

    And yet, despite being totally wrong about everything he's ever predicted, Paul Ehrlich still has credibility among the Chicken Little Left.

    Adele Baker
    04/23/2013

    up to I saw the draft which was of $7281, I be certain that my brothers friend was like they say really earning money in there spare time from there computar.. there friend brother had bean doing this for less than 20 months and recently repayed the mortgage on their mini mansion and bourt a top of the range BMW 5-series. read more at, kep2.ℂom

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