Failed Mirth Earth Day predictions

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Via iHateTheMedia, here are a few of the predictions made on the first Earth Day. Don’t these sound like the predictions today that fail, like the 50 million climate refugees by 2010 followed by the moving of the goalposts to 2020?

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”

• Kenneth Watt, ecologist

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“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.”

• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“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, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”

• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“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.”

• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: 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, January 1970

“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.”

• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”

• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“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.’”

• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

• Sen. Gaylord Nelson

and this classic:

“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, Ecologist


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Ideally, there should be dates posted on when each comment was said.


in 1964 i was driving from wells nevada to los angeles and as i went by the sign that said “next gas station 80 miles” the ecologists on the radio were screaming that at the current rate of construction we would pave over the entire United States in 12 years.
i looked to the left and there was nothing but snow and brush for about 100 miles, i looked to the right and the same thing was evident.
it is now ~ 46 years later and it hasn’t happened yet.
for those who beg to differ consult google satellite maps.

Richard S Courtney

‘Greens’ have a distorted world view. All their analyses are based on the imaginary world which they think exists and not on the real world which does exist. So, their predictions are not merely wrong but are usually the opposite of what is likely to occur in the real world.
I keep telling people to believe the exact opposite of anything a ‘green’ says. Sometimes, very rarely, believing that exact opposite will prove to be wrong, but this is more than compensated by the many, many times it proves to be right.

Mike Bromley

The Golden Hansen Award Winners are……
The Suzuki No-Foundation Prize for this year is…..

James Sexton

Is nice to have an historical perspective of their hysterical precedence.
The end has been nigh for 40 years and nothing has happened…….. loons.

John Blake

The term for Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, James Hansen, latterly Keith Farnish et al. is “Thanatist”– more than mere doom-sayers, they “love death more than life.” Viewing humanity as “a mass of seething maggots” (Holdren, 1974), they abominate Norman Borlaug’s seminal Green Revolution which refuted Malthusian catastrophism root-and-branch; sabotage coal, oil, nuclear energy economies by vicious Luddite means; espouse centralized Statist apparats with the explicit goal of physically exterminating “excess” global populations.
“Earth Day,” declared by a convicted murderer on Vladimir Ulyanov aka Lenin’s birthday to compete with Easter Sunday, celebrates not Light and Life but Darkness and Death. Radical extremists who embrace this evil hate peace and prosperity, hate humanity, and they want you dead.

Bryan A

These people should all be contacted (those that survived the famines that is) for comments on the statements they made 40 years ago and for explanations of what steps were taken that avoided these tragic predictions.


Anthony, you might add the date of the first earth day…
…I think it was 1970??

But you can’t use Google?


In telling stories these are called whoppers.

Charlie Foxtrot

We had the good sense to ignore those predictions then. I wonder where logic and common sense have gone since 1970.
Is it due to a belief in the infallibility of computers? Most people have no idea how computers work, or that they can be made to spit out anything the programmers want them to. The computer models, as complex as they are, are only a reflection of the beliefs and misconceptions of the people writing the code, but I think that fact is not understood by most people, especially the most vocal alarmists who seem to be the least informed.

Jim Cole

Too funny.
The only slack I might cut these guys is mentioned in Ken Watts’ last “prediction”. In 1970, the climate had been cooling for nearly 30 years and wheat harvests in Canada and USSR were declining, so there was at least some justification for the gloom-and-doom scenarios of mass starvation.
Fortunately, warming started at about that time (the Great Pacific Shift – or whatever it was called – PDO went positive) and humanity was saved by warming.
Oh, the Green Revolution helped a bit too.

Tom Jones

How is it possible for the current Catastrophists to read a list like that without looking in the mirror and saying, “You know, I might be wrong.”


What are the odds that it was a coincidence that Earth day is celebrated on Lenin’s birthday AND the very first celebration of Earth day coincided with Lenin’s 100th birthday?
Anybody a stat expert???


I think it would be useful to award points for people who make alarmist statements. Add them to a list that includes their name, organisation, the date of the statement, and the statement itself (and a URL).
Each week, sort the list in descending order of the number of points and publish the top 20 names (or maybe more).
The points for each alarmist statement should be reduced each month.


Paul Ehrlich: “One of the most amusing things about The Population Bomb is that is was much too optimistic a book.” (2009)

He must really be experiencing an alternate reality.

Douglas DC

Trouble is some of the same people jump on the AGW bandwagon when it suits them…


kramer says:
April 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm
“What are the odds that it was a coincidence that Earth day is celebrated on Lenin’s birthday AND the very first celebration of Earth day coincided with Lenin’s 100th birthday?
Anybody a stat expert???”
Oh come on, it’s 1/(365*100) if we assume that the probability of declaring Earth Day is equally distributed from the birthday of Lenin to when it was declared.


DirkH says:
April 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm
“Oh come on, it’s 1/(365*100) if we assume that the probability of declaring Earth Day is equally distributed from the birthday of Lenin to when it was declared.”
To be fair, we should ask: How probable is it that any one of those meaningless celebratory days is declared on the 100th birthday of an arbitrary autocrat. To compute this, we first need the number of meaningless celebratory days; let’s use this list of UN celebratory days; it has 72 entries.
And we need a list of autocrats; i found this one:
I’m too lazy too count them but it’s on the order of 100 in the time interval we’re interested in; so the probability of a Meaningless UN celebratory day declared on the 100th birthday would be
72*100/(365*100) = 72/365 = 0.197
So it’s perfectly possible that it happened by chance.

The modern environmental movement of anti-Capitalism, anti-industrialism, anti-Americanism, and anti-anything-that-improves-life-ism is constructed like a watermelon: green on the outside, red on the inside.


Most over used phrase: “If present trends continue”
If NH spring time trends continue the oceans should be at a full boil by about September or October. We’re all gonna die.

Jim Masterson

I remember my computer language professor back in 1970 was excited about a population computer model. I believed it was created by the Club of Rome. It tracked five values: population, pollution, industrial growth, resources, and food. The model predicted that if we did nothing, the human population would increase to 16 billion, and we’d have a die-back of 15 billion. If we conserved our resources, then the model predicted the human population would increase to 26 billion, and we’d have a die-back of 25 billion. The only way to prevent a die-back was to roll the population back to 1 billion.
The Club of Rome is definitely at home in the global warming/environmental movement–computer models and all.


I sure hope these “experts” never start saying the future looks great. ;->


Latitude says:
April 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm
REPLY: But you can’t use Google?
actually no, not today
Gooble has some waterfall thingy going on and it’s locking me up….
…so I decided to switch to Bing and keep it there
;-P grouchy


What happened to that ‘twenty-four (?) months to save the planet’ schtick? How’s that going?


A hysteri of catastrophism?

Howling Winds

But why don’t the “gate keepers” of official science, like Nature, AAAS, Nova, The Union of Concerned Scientists ever call these fellows out on these astonishingly failed predictions? You can bet that if these were creationist predictions or from the Republican party, these aforementioned groups would be all over it.

Klaas Fokkema

My prediction: “Rain in september, christmas in december”.

Harold Pierce Jr

In Canada we have about 5 trillion acres of unpopulated land. In super-natural, beautiful British Columbia, “The Best Place on Earth”, we have 250 milllion acres of unpopulated land. And in Vancouver (aka Lotus Land), there are no mosquitos in the summertime!
Come one! Come all!

Jim Masterson says:
April 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm
> I remember my computer language professor back in 1970 was excited about a population computer model. I believed it was created by the Club of Rome.
Yes, “The Limits to Growth.” It came out right after my Systems EE course at Carnegie-Mellon and I was duly impressed at the looming disaster. I spent a lot of time looking at their system block diagram. One of the main things they and I missed was that price increases release raw materials that used to be economically unavailable, high prices also spur the development of alternatives, and new technologies come along and disrupt everything. Car dashboards used to be metal. I remember realizing one day I hadn’t seen a metal dashboard in years.
A month later, I bought Greybeard by Brian Aldiss, a SF book that traced the development of economic, societal, and population collapse when nuclear war/testing/whatever rendered everyone sterile for several decades.
The pair left me depressed for weeks. However, ultimately it was my first lesson that a model that is new, big and state of the art may not be right.

Steve from Rockwood

I find the 50 million climate refugees by 2010 particularly worrying.
In 1995 Norman Myers wrote “There is a new phenomenon in the global arena – environmental refugees […] As far back as 1995…these environmental refugees totaled at least 25 million compared with 27 million traditional refugees (people fleeing from political repression, religious persecution and ethnic troubles). The environmental refugees could well double between 1995 and 2010.[…] Poverty serves as an additional “push” factor [..] other factors include population pressures, malnutrition, landlessness, unemployment, over-rapid urbanization, pandemic diseases and faulty government policies […]”
Nowhere in Myers (rather honest) review of international environmental refugees is there any mention of climate change. His point seems to be an attempt to put forward the argument that the number of refugees will increase in the coming years, due to these factors.
So somehow the global warming movement has gotten hold of this, turning truly displaced people into examples of man-made climate change and in typical knee-jerk reaction, the anti-global warming movement has jumped all over them. But these people exist. They existed in 1995 as defined by Myers (he lists areas of the world where these people were currently struggling and defined their struggle as being environmental based) and their numbers have grown.
The main reason cited for the growth in numbers by Myers is the growth in population, which he claims is limited to the poorest of the poor (people living on less than $1 per day).
So make fun of AGW but don’t forget that people are displaced due to environmental reasons – and they will be so in increasing numbers.

Latitude says:
April 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm
> Anthony, you might add the date of the first earth day…
> …I think it was 1970??
Well, let’s see, I was still a student at CMU, but not a freshman. It was in the spring, so maybe 70/71/72.
I remember two things – Stewart Brand’s The Whole Earth Catalog, which I believe I still have, and the wind and rain storm that flattened tents and scattered paper, and turned the ground soft so the trucks left bad ruts in the lawn.
I learned that idealism is not immune to reality.
We were all impressed that Brand actually included small computers in his catalog. It was the first catalog meant for the mass market that had computers. Real computers, too, not the ones with telephone dial inputs if Popular Electronics. So what if they cost more than a car, it showed some day we might be see computers we could actually afford. A couple KB of memory, an old Teletype for I/O, PDP-8 or maybe hold out for a PDP-11, it could actually happen….
Hey, wasn’t last year the 30th anniversary of the first Earth Day?


I have never understood “Earth Day”. I mean the enviro nuts are more far removed from being environmentally friendly ‘an common city folks (common city folks don’t think they know it all, after all.)
IMHO is it any wonder that where ever the crazed climate communist hippie parade with their paranormal climate science touch down, being all “eco nice nice climate friendly”, weed spreads like wild fire before the coming of the shroomey fungus’s that follows? :p


These failed predictions should make any sensible person take a closer look at the global warming alarmist’s claims. It’s nothing but doom and gloom for these pathetic fear mongers.

Apocalyptic cults often confuse prophecy with command, which is something of an insult to God. If you really believe it’s a prophecy, then you know that you have no power to change it one way or the other.
This is clearly visible in the 666 types who want to encourage nuclear warfare to hasten the end.
Same with Ehrlich. He predicted that millions will starve. Governments and industries have taken up his cult, have been following his commands, and by Jove, millions are starving as a direct result.


“Most over used phrase: ‘If present trends continue'”
Which is why I often say that “greens” must be scared to death of roller coasters or plane rides because every time one goes into a climb, they must expect it to keep going. Same when when going down in altitude.
They must have a problem even riding in cars. “Hey, cabbie, at the present trend continues, we will be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean within three days! STOP!”.

Doubting Thomas

First Earth Day – April 22, 1970
I believe at the time I was learning to spend money like a 17 year old drunken sailor in Barcelona, Spain. (I had previously learned to curse – so lessons were not required.)


Jay Forrester of Project Whirlwind fame – which started as a computer project to develop flight simulators, and ended up giving us real-time computing, the SAGE defense system, etc. was one of the early contributors to the Club of Rome doomsday computer modelling. I imagine the whole mind-set of the Club of Rome was influenced by the Viet Nam War, the Cold War and other nasties of the period; I wish these guys would realize that that’s history, and we have other wars to fight today.


As a 1979 graduate of Huxley College of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University I was spoon fed this BS. Thank G-D I came to my senses. I am an evil stockbroker now…

Ulrich Elkmann

Since Lenin (and his successors) believed that Communism depended wholly on heavily industrialized infrastructure (“Communism equals Soviet power plus electrification of the whole country”) – he envisioned Germany as the starting point for the coming world revolution, since Russia was far too backward in his view – there is a kind of savage poetic justice in seeing him chosen as the patron saint of green pastoralism. If Earth Day had been organized ten years later, these people might have better chosen Brother Number One, a.k.a. Saloth Sar, a.k.a. Pol Pot.

Jimmy Haigh
I’ve just found this site looking for some of Prince Charles’ predictions.

Jerry from Boston

This may sound stupid, but:
What about the migration of AGW DE-Refugees? People who have moved into areas that were previously considered adverse environments, but which are now receiving or absorbing more people? Or people who have moved into areas that are or suspected to be at environmental risk (due to sea level rise, for example) but are willing to accept the risks of living in those areas, for whatever reasons they might have. People who have moved from colder to warmer climates as a preference (think retirees to Florida)?


Steve from Rockwood
The main reason cited for the growth in numbers by Myers is the growth in population
Which means that Myers’ definition of environmental refugee is over-broad. Somehow it never occurred to me that when my father and his four siblings (population growth here) left the farm and moved to town, they were refugees.

Robert Morris

Reading those quotes reinforces my instinctive preference for optimistic, “glass half-full” people.
What leads educated people to embrace nihilism so totally? Is it just book sales?


The first stab an alarmist makes is to accuse one of a political position. It’s like they don’t think anyone could possibly disagree with the scientists. It’s rather disturbing to see comments from people who seem to actually believe we are doomed and one would think they would be open to any viewpoints that might take that pressure off, but it angers people who seem to WANT the doom and they won’t be denied. If a doctor told me I was going to die of a disease, but I heard of another doctor who had evidence that this wasn’t true, would anybody in their right mind NOT at least listen and evaluate what he had to say? In essence, they are saying, “We are going to die and don’t try to tell me we aren’t.” That’s why I don’t think they believe any of it, but it’s a form of protest against their usual enemies, big oil and all those profit-making capitalist. If they can convince people that death is the result, then so be it. Nobody can be so stupid as to really believe CO2 is pollution.

Leon Brozyna

I have found that every year, on 25 December, I am 1 year older than the previous year. If present trends continue, by the year 2511, I will be 565 years old !!


Anytime I see these linear projections, I remember the Simpsons franchise episode wherein Disco Stu is selling… well, disco to potential franchisees. He has a memorable chart that projects disco’s popularity forward from a few years data in the late seventies. The data cutoff is around 1979, but the projections continue up and up and up.
Why these people cannot see that the earth has been self-regulating through positive and negative feedbacks since the atmosphere oxygenated 2.3-2.4 billion years ago is beyond me. But they sure seem to love their Disco Stu linear trends.


Amazing: 40 years ago we were all going to freeze to death.
Then the freezing stopped.
Then we were all going to die of heatstroke and the oceans would swallow the continents.
Then they couldn’t find what happened to all the heat they were 100% scientifically positive was there.
A Perpetual Doomsday is predicted to strike if trends continue. Hurry.

The Ted Danson quote – where is the Ted Danson quote?
Oh … here it is: “Ted Danson claimed, in 1989, that if we did nothing to fight global warming, our planet would be uninhabitable in 10 years …”
(posted on a backup Win 98SE machine)

Chris Smith

Thursday’s temperature was around 15 Celsius. By Friday it was 25 Celsius. We need to act now to stop further warming because my computer modelling which was carried out on a state-of-the-art computer predicts that this time next year temperatures will be above boiling point.