Earth Day was largely ignited by a spark that came off a railroad trestle across the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland that actually lit the river on fire in June of 1969. Less than a year later, in April 1970, the first Earth Day was launched. The annual event, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this April 22nd, has proven to be the most fertile place and time each year to grow one fraudulent fear-mongering claim after another.
As Nicolas Loris wrote in the Bangor Daily News on April 22, 2019,
“We should be thankful that the gloom and doom predictions made throughout the past several decades haven’t come true. Fear-mongering about explosive population growth, food crises and the imminent depletion of natural resources have been a staple of Earth Day events since 1970. And the common thread among them is that they’ve stirred up a lot more emotion than facts.”
It is easy to predict that this year’s Earth Day headlines will involve how little time we have to save the world from man-caused climate change. The coming disaster is supposedly being caused by our use of fossil fuels which have resulted in a carbon dioxide increase that is one ten thousandths of one percent of the air (yes, you read that right).
Last year’s Earth Day prompted Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute to dive into Ronald Bailey’s accumulation of Earth Day frauds at its 30th anniversary in 2000. It is more important now to revisit them, as most are long forgotten. When remembered they should help to make it clear to our readers that we have long been assaulted by environmental frauds and the climate delusion is just the latest. It may be the first, however, actually able to bring our society to it knees if action on it were to be implemented. Surely, an attempt to implement it will be made if any of the Democratic contenders for the Presidency are elected as it has been part of each of their campaign promises.
Our goal in the following is not simply to have you revisit the memory lane of fear-mongering frauds of the 1970s, but more importantly, to arm you with simple facts to share with people who buy into today’s alarm that life as we know it is in jeopardy.
Harvard biologist George Wald estimated in 1970 that if the world’s many environmental problems were not quickly addressed, civilization will end in as little as 30 years.
Washington University biologist Barry Commoner agreed with this estimate stating the Earth will no longer be suitable for human habitation. At the same time the New York Times editorial page warned that, unless man stopped pollution and conserved resources, intolerable deterioration and possible extinction was likely.
Perhaps the world champion of modern doom-saying is Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, first published in 1968. In the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle he said, “the death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” Ehrlich’s most alarmist prediction in 1970 was that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people including 65 million Americans would perish in what he called “the great die off.”
For this extreme, and unjustified, alarmism, he won the famous MacArthur genius award and became a frequent guest on the Johnny Carson show with annual dire predictions, none of which ever came true. He is still at it today 50 years later claiming all his predictions will come true; he has just been off on the timing.
Not only was Ehrlich wrong about the impact of population growth, population experts today predict a decline in world population in the last half of this century which will create a need to change our economic models. Due to amazing advances in agriculture, starvation has actually been wiped out across the globe.
In a 1970 issue of Life magazine, scientists reported that, by 1985, urban dwellers would have to wear gas masks because of air pollution. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time magazine that year that the build up of nitrogen in our atmosphere would filter out light making our land unusable for crops. Barry Commoner reported that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in our rivers causing freshwater fish to suffocate.
We all know that, even before the first Earth Day, we were told we would run out of oil well before the end of the 20th century. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American in 1970 showing we would run out of copper soon after the year 2000 and lead, zinc, tin, gold and silver likely before that. Of course, that has not happened.
The same year, Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute stated that he believed within 25 years as many as 75% of all species would be extinct. Our favorite nonsensical forecast is Kenneth Watt’s warning in a 1970 speech that “if present trends continue, the world will be about 4 degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000, twice what it would take to put us in a another ice age.”
Let’s keep these spectacularly wrong predictions from the first Earth Day in mind when we are bombarded this April with a few new frauds and the ever-present climate catastrophe.