Greta preaches many of the first Earth Day’s failed predictions

By Ronald Stein |March 13th, 2020|Environment

More than three decades before Greta Thunberg was born — the Swedish environmental activist on climate change, diagnosed with Asperger’s — more than 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

We now look back at quotes from Earth Day, Then and Now,” by Ronald Bailey, May 1, 2000 of the spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions from Earth Day 1970.

Considering the current doomsday predictions scaremonger activists are verbalizing about global warming that will result in the demise of civilization within the next decade, many of those unscientific 1970 predictions are being reincarnated on today’s social and news media outlets.

Many of the same are being regurgitated today, but the best prediction from the first earth day five decades ago, yes 50 years ago, was that the “the pending ice age as earth had been cooling since 1950 and that the temperature would be 11 degrees cooler by the year 2000”.

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

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970— 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

History seems to repeat itself as there will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak. I guess we’ll need to critique the 2020 doomsday predictions in the year 2050 and see if they were any better than those from the first Earth Day 50 years ago.


  • Ronald SteinRon Stein is an engineer who, drawing upon 25 years of project management and business development experience, launched PTS Advance in 1995. He is an author, engineer, and energy expert who writes frequently on issues of energy and economics.

74 thoughts on “Greta preaches many of the first Earth Day’s failed predictions

  1. Can this be added as background information to each and every energy, environment, or climate change story. The first amendment of the US Constitution is not all inclusive it is sometimes stated. Usually that’s followed by “you can’t yell FIRE in a crowed theater” in the climate fight you can see how sorely that amendment can be tested by people of ill will. Ill will at best and sometimes down right homicidal in their tendencies as with Mr. Einhorn. A good teacher worthy of their students would hang this up in the classroom.

    • “Usually that’s followed by “you can’t yell FIRE in a crowed theater””

      The “you can’t yell FIRE in a crowed theater” mantra has been presented as established precedent, when actually it’s an over used WRONG argument, it isn’t accepted by courts.

      Do Americans even study their Constitution?

    • If you discover a fire in a theater, we hope you will warn the rest of the patrons. link

      The paraphrasing differs from Holmes’s original wording in that it typically does not include the word falsely, while also adding the word “crowded” to describe the theatre. The original wording used in Holmes’s opinion (“falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”) highlights that speech that is dangerous and false is not protected, as opposed to speech that is dangerous but also true.

      There should be a punishment for failed serial prognosticators. Paul Ehrlich has done far more damage than the fossil fuel industry and yet nobody is suing him. He keeps falsely shouting fire and he hasn’t been right yet.

      Over many years, Philip Tetlock evaluated the success of highly qualified experts at predicting the outcome of various events. The expert predictions were no more accurate than those that would be generated by a dart-throwing chimp. Faced with this track record, the experts should quit prognosticating, especially when the results of their prognostications can cause huge damage. They should know they aren’t reliable and behave accordingly. If they don’t, they should be liable for the damage they cause.

      • At least there is a certain randomness to a chimp thrown dart which results in a small chance of an accurate prediction. Many experts are so obsessed by their biases that they choose to throw the darts away from the dart board while insisting loudly that the obvious is an illusion and the absurd is reality.

      • Unfortunately I am a poor man .but if I was rich you would see the greatest legal floorshow in history. Sue the stupid uneducated ignorant children and there handlers.

      • Paul Ehrlich is an idiot who prophesied that people would disappear in clouds of blue steam, whatever that means. How he got a degree is beyond me, never mind his position.

  2. In this time of the world’s of corona virus pandemic, when in Europe more than one hundred million of citizens are in a virtual lock down, at the time of serious financial and investments crash, Greta with her followers and their stupidity have fallen to near zero value in the background white noise, the waste of space and the web bandwidth.
    Let’s have no more Greta, please.

    • Yes, a climate change to correspond with current events, not recycling yesteryear’s green (i.e. naive) models and saleswomen.

    • From TIME’s”Person of the Year” to an afterthough in three months. Disco didn’t go out of fashion so fast.

    • Yep. The Virus seems to have killed off the Climate scaremongering. Not one, None, Zero mention of it on our (Irish) media since the virus appeared. Up until then, it had been covered from early morning till late at night, constantly. It was a huge issue , in the recent elections, for the politicians,though not for the voters. Now, it’s gone.


      • Wanna know WHY? The Greta-fueled “Climate Crisis” was supposed to freak us into submission. Didn’t happen, so now they’ve uncorked The Big One–and it’s showing everyone exactly how far we can be scared into giving up all freedoms, livelihoods, and economic power. I give it 5 days before wholesale civil disobedience breaks out from sheer compression.

        Watch . . . and learn. You can bet THEY are.

      • If the announced results of preliminary human trials of chloroquine anti-viral therapy are borne out by additional studies in the next weeks, the coronavirus may soon join climate change as falling into the background noise.

        Perhaps some of you know that pneucoccal pneumonia still kills about a million people per year around the world….even though it is almost universally treatable by several broadly available antibiotics…’s just that the diagnosis is often made too late, or the sad patient lives where there is little well organized healthcare. A million per year….but no hysteria, no shut downs…..precisely because it is every year and the people who write articles and write laws know that they will be treated if needed.

        Once the chattering class knows there is a good treatment that they and theirs will get if they get cover-19, they will move on to some other way to bash Trump and all those rascally Republicans.

    • The UK appears to be doing better (at least for the moment) than some other major European nations, but prospects are equally grim if this graph projection materialises at 50% or even less of the anticipated.
      (note: both left and right scales are logarithmic but with different base values)

    • The Chinese in the beginning of this were waging a campaign that everybody should hug their closest Chinese friend, and many people in Italy actually did!

      We can see how well that tuned out!

      Turns out there are some governments that are far less reliable than others!!

  3. “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

    Can someone explain what that is about?

    Nitrogen is not the most opaque of gasses. There’s lots between my eyes and this screen yet I can see his words.

    I just can’t understand them.

    • Nitrogen pollution actually refers to nitrogen oxides, just as today “carbon pollution” actually refers to carbon dioxide (not a pollutant). Nitrogen oxides were the source of “smog”, along with particulates.

      • Thank you both.
        Sometimes it’s hard to bridge the chasm between accuracy and idiocy.
        Well done for knowing about reality and yet still being able to translate the language of Lemurians.

    • Kenneth Watt was of the belief that the temperature drop from the 40’s to the 70’s was due to industrialization and would continue. He described dust loading and nitrogen loading due to man. I think today we use the terms aerosols, particulates and NOx.

  4. Their defense is that we took action and averted these disasters. They don’t see it as a failure of their predictions, but examples of prompting the necessary actions. Oh, and the 70’s gave us horrible movies and music? There was Star Wars and Gentle Giant.

    • “Apocalypse Now” would have been a more appropriate title for a movie about environmental doom.

      As it turns out, I’m glad AP was a great war movie about the hunt for a rogue US Vietnam war colonel.

      With a fantastic musical sound track.

      Can you imagine what kind of soundtrack would have been attached to an AP movie about climate doom?
      (I’m guessing “Ride of the Valkyries” would not have had the iconic effect)

    • Most good music ended in the 60s. Chuck Berry, Dion, Beatles, Creedence, Ray Charles, Temptations, Doors, Animals, Stones, Four Seasons , Hank Williams, the Platters, Smokey Robinson, etc.

    • The moment the author mentioned “dreadful music” in the 70s I tuned-out and went to the comments. Talk about off topic!

      • True. I mean Lenny Kravitz based a whole, successful, album on instruments and amps made in the 70’s because of the sound. I mean, what is music if not sound?

  5. A nominally secular religion, and sociopolitical myths, which may be true, but, in this case, they are not. Caveat emptor.

  6. There were a lot of bad songs in the 70’s, the link to “dreadful music” is not that bad. There were also a lot of great songs.

    • You realize that’s a picture of a then mental health facility which is now a Cal State University?

    • Turn your volume WAY down before starting this video! I mean, IT’S LOUD!!! Great song though!

    • That was awesome Scissor! I could continue to scroll down and read more comments and enjoy the music.

      Maybe you could post two or three randomly for each post and those who wanted to could partake. 🙂

  7. In Germany, the first clean air act was presented in the sixties, became law in 71 or 72, and in the latter air pollution couldt be reduced step by step.
    But the strongest SO2 reduction was result of shutting down the industry in the GDR 1990.

  8. With apologies to Nat King Cole…. and his classic Unforgettable.

    ReGretable, that’s what you are!
    And so forgettable, when near or far.
    That’s why hafling, it’s incredible,
    That someone so ignorant and apocryphal
    can be so hypocritical and insufferable too!

  9. “I guess we’ll need to critique the 2020 doomsday predictions in the year 2050 and see if they were any better than those from the first Earth Day 50 years ago.”

    I’m hoping that the B Ark will be long gone by then.

  10. 1.“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald

    Only two possible answers to this;

    Wald was utterly wrong, or that “immediate action” was in reality pretty simple to pull off and possibly completed in someone’s lunch break.

    “Well, lets see. I walked to the park, ate my sandwich, saved world, read some of my novel. Guess it is time to go back to the office”

  11. What?
    The 70:ies had great music and fantastic movies!
    He must have confused the 70:ies with the 90:ies.

    • You know, you can just type 70s. Much less typing, and doesn’t look like you’re trying to do some weird emoji.

      • Actually the 60’s had better music ! As stated in the movie “The Big Chill” – couldn’t find the quote on YouTube. . . But I think it’s true. . .

        BTW, I was actually at earth day in Philly 1970 and heard all these speakers:
        “U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie was the keynote speaker on Earth Day in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. Other notable attendees included consumer protection activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader; Landscape Architect Ian McHarg; Nobel prize-winning Harvard Biochemist, George Wald; U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Hugh Scott; and poet, Allen Ginsberg.”
        (Ira Einhorn participated in the first Earth Day event in Philadelphia in 1970) – I’m not sure if he spoke…

        The one I remember most was Allen Ginsberg who didn’t make any sense (as most poets do/or don’t as far as I’m concerned).


  12. I remember the Y2K bug. I was working in a software company in Paris at the time and we really took that seriously. Spending a ton of money in order to prepare for something that never happened. Oh, I also grew up during those 70ies and got the full treatment of impending thermonuclear war and later Chernobyl. It really felt like the world’s end was close. I was scared. I remember sitting in the school bus and picturing the mushrooms in a distance. But it never happened. Just like a ton of other doomsday predictions. Global Warming will be one of them in a while.

    • Yes, and the same goes for Covid-19! The scaremongers have to invent SOMETHING to scare the hell out of everyone, or at least the dumber ones! Time resolves ALL Of that!

    • Been through all these in not quite 7 decades….
      Nuclear fallout, Polio in the 50’s, Rubella in the 60’s, Cuban Missile crisis, Thalidomide babies, “The Population Bomb”, “Silent Spring”, Ebola, AIDS, Y2K, West Nile, Dengue, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, SARS, MERS, MRSA, Zika, frog-bird-butterfly-bumblebee extinction, 12 years before Climageddon, now CoVid-19. Probably missed a bunch, didn’t include war threats…..

      • “Cuban Missile crisis”
        That one was serious: according to at least some research, some Russian sub captains were literally seconds away from launching nuclear-tipped torpedoes. In the end they gave up rather than going down fighting and take the world with them, but it was close.

        • Fabio, you are right. The Cuban missile crisis was real. We literally came within minutes of nuclear war. As I understand it (and I may be wrong) the Russian submarine captain defied his order to fire his missiles and was later punished for disobeying his orders. I’ve always believed that both Krushev and Kennedy were reckless in the way they handled this crisis. Both Krushev and Kennedy were literally playing a game of chicken with nuclear missiles with the lives of millions of people at stake.

          This is based on nothing and I can’t defend it. But I have a suspicion that the subsequent Kennedy assassination and Khushev’s removal from office were both because of the Cuban missile crisis. Perhaps in both countries the deep state decided that these two leaders were too dangerous to keep in office. I know – conspiracy theories look silly in the light of day. However every once in a while ……..

      • Not sure about the others, but someone said that the only people hurt by the Three Mile Island ‘Disaster’ were the stock holders, and the damage was to their pocketbooks.


        Dudley Horscroft

        • At the time, my electricity provider was a part-owner of TMI. I used to write on every bill, “Clean up and turn on TMI!” Not that it helped, but it was better than climbing a handy bell tower as my rates steadily increased.

    • Working to help Transalta here in calgary with Y2K in 1999 they had to perform tests on all protective relays including electromechanical types, which of course are magnets, no clock present
      So they printed Y2K on a sheet of paper, rolled it up then poked the face of each relay and recorded a successful test
      Funny and true

    • Just like most real problems, the Y2K issue was over hyped and exaggerated. There were systems, mostly big billing and inventory at big corps, that would have failed were it not for the intervention of a small group of COBOL programmers (many that came out of retirement) that worked hard to fix the problems. I remember one test where the company rolled the clock forward one weekend to a minute before midnight of December 31, 1999. A few minutes later the system crashed hard and corrupted their primary database. It took them months to fix all the problems they found. The company estimated it could survive maybe a week without that system. Good thing they tested it. Anybody declaring that all Y2K testing and mitigation efforts were a waste of time and money doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    • The main reason Y2K was a dud was because of the enormous effort made to fix the underlying problems.
      If they hadn’t been fixed there would have been very serious repercussions around the world.
      Spending a ton of money actually prevented something awful from happening.
      I’m surprised that you have that viewpoint.

  13. The alarmist leaders know it’s about money and political power, and the followers are generally too stupid to check the facts. Was in the 70s and is now.

    • I cannot understand how it is the furthest left who fall hardest for such an obvious capitalist plot.

  14. Speaking of the Earth Day, April 22, won’t it celebrate 150th Lenin’s birthday this year?

  15. Paul Ehrlich and the Population Bomb….for an entire quarter in HS.
    The indoctrination was going on for me back in the ’60s starting with
    the Silent Spring. That was followed up with 14 months in SE asia.
    Ah my misspent youth.

  16. Well, I have to admit that since well before the year 2000 I stopped saying ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ when I drove up to the pump. Mostly because there was no Buddy at the self-serve.

    • Which is a pity, in one way because those ‘buddies’ are now just hanging around without a job and in another way because it was kind of nice to be served 😉

  17. Not one of the doomsday predictions has even come remotely close to happening and none of the current Doomsday predictions will come close to happening. The warmists of the current era don’t care about the temperature sea level rise or any of the other Doomsday predictions they just want to force communism worldwide on the entire world.

  18. Tony Heller has posted on his RealClimateScience blog this (see below: Youtube link) not so flattering video of Greta at a press conference panel when she doesn’t have a prepared script or prepared speech to give. When she has to answer questions her performance in the video makes it vividly clear all her little tantrum speeches are prepared and rehearsed.

  19. The seventies is my decade. I am from generation X, apparently this piece is written by a boomer who doesn’t like soul and disco music or ABBA or Pink Floyd.

  20. (On doing nothing about global warming):
    “Not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals.”
    – Ted Turner, CNN Media Mogul, April 2008

    Associated Press:
    “Entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of eco-refugees, threatening political chaos. Governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect.”
    – Director Brown of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, June 30, 1989

    “By 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…”(By 1996) The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers…The Mexican police will round up illegal American migrants surging into Mexico seeking work as field hands.”
    – Michael Oppenheimer, 1990, The Environmental Defense Fund

    This is why I almost never listen to “experts” that have any sort of interest in their own predictions. Just seeing or hearing the word “expert” in any news report gets my hackles up, especially when uttered by politicians and anyone working for blatantly biased news organizations.

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