Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.
None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true – but that is never reported, complains the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Failed predictions are never reported upon by a media that enthusiastically reports on anticipated failures of society, markets or institutions. Nor do such failed forecasts cause a moment’s hesitation for media in reporting on the next round of doom and gloom predictions – often claiming instead that it is an absolute certainty because “experts” are making the claim or that it is “settled science.”
It is well worth noting that all of their solutions have always to do with eliminating the free choices of people living in a free society, the curbing of wealth generation, and/or reducing the standard of living for the common folk.
What follows is a collection of notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.
More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science.
In 1967 newspaper headlines such as the Salt Lake Tribune forecasted “Dire Famine” by 1975. The prediction came from the much heralded Paul Ehrlich who said “the time of famines is upon us.” It is too late to do anything to avoid the catastrophe, “the population of the United States is already too big, and birth control may have to be accomplished by making it involuntary and by putting sterilizing agents into staple foods and drinking water, and that the Roman Catholic Church should be pressured into going along with routine measures of population control.” He made his predictions at a science symposium at the University of Texas. There was apparently no presentation at a later time to explain why his prediction was so far off base.
The New York Times reported on August 10, 1969 that because of pollution the population was doomed – again the soothsayer was Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich said that while his lab at Stanford University was collecting the data to prove the case, he was wasting no time waiting for the evidence. “…by the time we have enough evidence to convince people, you’re dead,” he said. He predicted, “…unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.”
In 1970, publications like the Boston Globe, were predicting an ice age by 2000, caused by air pollution which would “obliterate the sun” … if population continues to grow and electric power generation continues. This expert was James P. Lodge Jr. who claimed that “the demands for cooling water will boil dry the entire flow of the rivers and streams of continental United States.” He said we would deplete our oxygen supply. Lodge was a scientist at the national center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. Population control, a less wasteful standard of living and a major technological breakthrough “in the way man consumes resources,” were the only ways to prevent the catastrophe, said Lodge.
Again in 1970, Dr. Ehrlich was predicting that Americans will be subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980. The University of California Extension and the World Affairs Council in Southern California were all buying into Dr. Ehrlich’s credibility, who was of course peddling a book “The Population Bomb.” They touted him as “the hero of the ecology movement.”
A Washington Post Article, July 9, 1971, reported that Dr. S. I. Rasool of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Columbia University predicted that an ice age would be upon us in 50 or 60 years. That’s just a couple years away now, so it will be just in time to counter the perils of global warming about which we are now being warned.
Strangely, the ice age was going to be the consequence of “fine dust, man constantly puts into the atmosphere by fossil fuel-burning” (– essentially the same thing that will bring us global warming). The dust would block out the rays of the sun and drop temperatures by six degrees, he said.
Rasool’s predictions were printed in the publication “Science” and presented at the international Study of Man’s Impact on Climate in Stockholm. Dr. Gordon F. MacDonald, scientist-member of President Nixon’s three-man Council on Environmental Quality said that the issue was “one of the serious problems” the US and other delegates must address in the next year. MacDonald called Rasool a “first-rate atmospheric physicist” whose “estimate” is consistent with “estimates I and others have made.” His conclusion was that men must quit using fossil-fuels and switch to nuclear energy.
In December 1972, Brown University’s George J. Kukle at Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and R. K. Matthews, Department of Geological Sciences sent the President of the US a letter stating that at a scientific conference, 42 “top American and European investigators” had concluded that “a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experience by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon.” They were talking about a significant cooling of the planet, but conceded that a lack of data prevented “the precise timing” or to what degree mankind was responsible. There appeared to be evidence that the cooling had already started and they urged the president to take “decisive action.”
And so the predictions continued. The Guardian, January 29, 1974, reported that space satellites showed an ice age was coming fast. Scientists were observing that snow and ice cover of the earth had increased by 12 percent during 1967-1972. They said that the earth had reached a “climax of warmth” between 1935 and 1955, “and world average temperatures are now falling.”
Aerosol sprays was the concern that prompted testimony before Congress in 1974, as reported in TIME. The earth appears to be “on the verge of a period of great peril,” said Professor T. M. Donahue of the University of Michigan, in two days of hearings before Congress on whether Freon, the gas used in aerosol sprayers and a coolant in refrigerators and air conditions had been eating away at the ozone layer at the top of the earth’s atmosphere. It may be too late to head off the increase in skin cancer that is sure to come as a result, said one congressman. The destruction of the ozone would reach its peak in 1990, it was predicted. But no such ‘great peril to life’ has yet been observed and the ozone still remains.
Stephen Schneider, climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research wrote a book in 1976, called “The Genesis Strategy,” warning that present world food reserves are insufficient to hedge against future famines that would happen as a result of earth cooling. He quoted a University of Wisconsin climatologist as saying that 1930-1960 “was the most abnormal period in a thousand years – abnormally mild.”
And then there was the dire threat of acid rain, a hype that quietly went away once it achieved its aim of scaring Congress into passing the “Clean Air Act.” Newspaper stories in 1980 claimed that acid rain has already wiped out the fish in 10 of Yew York’s Adirondack Mountain lakes. Canada’s environmental agency deputy minister, Raymond Robinson, in a meeting sponsored by the US Environmental Protection agency blamed the problem on electrical plants burning coal.
But, 10 years later, a US Government $537 million study concluded that acid rain was no environmental crisis, which “reduced the scientific uncertainties” about acid rain, and determined that it was a long-term problem that could be addressed by reducing sulfur dioxide emissions.
Cooling of the earth was still a serious problem come 1978 and it wasn’t going away any time soon, said a Jan. 5, 1978 New York Times article, predicting a 30 year trend. German, Japanese and American specialists all concurred in a British journal that temperature data from oceans and air indicated that the northern hemisphere cooled from 1950 to 1975, 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius, but they were uncertain as to why the planet was cooling.
But from 1979 NASA satellite data shows a slight warming trend.
In 1988 drought became the crisis, as experts predicted the hottest year ever. It was declared to be the cause of the “greenhouse effect,” according to James Hansen of NASA. He predicted an increase in heat waves through the rest of the 80s and 90s, but in reality 1988 was the last “really dry year in the midwest” and they have since had record wet years, according to RealClimateScience.com.
In the Lansing State Journal, Hansen warned on Dec. 12, 1988, that during the 1990s Washington DC would experience 85 days a year with temps over 90 degrees rather than what had been the average of 35 days a year – and that the ocean was going to rise one foot to six feet – and the frequency and severity of storms would increase due to the greenhouse effect.
DC’s number of hot days peaked in 1911 and have been declining ever since.
The Maldive Islands nation in the Indian Ocean was predicted in 1988 to be underwater within 30 years, according to The Agence France Press. They are not.
The June 30, 1989, Associated Press reported that “A senior U. N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by 2000. Because of warming, melting polar ice caps will raise the sea level by three feet, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of UN Environmental Protection . One sixth of Bangladesh would be flooded, displacing a fourth of its 90 million people. A fifth of Egypt’s arable land in the Nile Delta would be flooded, cutting off its food supply, according to a joint UNEP and US Environmental Agency prediction.
Shifting climate patterns will bring back the 1930s dust bowl to the US and Canada, said Brown, because of humanity’s use of fossil fuels and burning the rainforest. The world had only ten years to do something about it, according to Brown.
In 1989, New York City’s westside highway that runs along the Hudson River was predicted to be under water by 2019 – and tape would be on windows of buildings because of high winds. Jim Hansen made that prediction to a reporter from Salon.com, who confirmed Hansen was still standing by the prediction in October 2001.
In 2000, it was also predicted that snow falls would be a thing of the pass and children would no longer know what snow is.
In 2002 global warming was predicted to produce famine in ten years. It could only be avoided if humans quit eating meat and fish, according to a report in the Guardian. The Guardian also reported in 2004 that Britain would have a climate more like Siberia by 2020.
In 2008, a NASA scientist predicted that the Arctic would be “ice free” by 2018.
Al Gore echoed the prediction but said the Arctic would be free of ice by 2013. On Dec. 14, 2008, Gore predicted the north polar ice cap would be gone in five years – “inconveniently, it is still there.”
On July 9, 2009, Prince Charles said we had only eight years to save the planet. “The price of capitalism and consumerism is just too high,” he lamented.
The journal Nature claimed in 2013 that the Arctic would be ice free by 2015, because of a “methane catastrophe.”
Based upon the US Department of Energy research, the US Navy predicted in 2013, an ice-free Arctic Ocean by 2016.
In 2014, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, in a joint statement with John Kerry, predicted “climate chaos” in only 500 days. But the planet is standing after much more than 500 days.