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January 2016 Policy Study, Number 16-1


Doom and Gloom = 0, Human Ingenuity = 10

The World Hasn't Ended Yet!


Global Cooling



One of the first global cooling alarmists was Peter Gunter, Chairman of the Philosophy Department at North Texas State University, who in The Living Wilderness said, “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.”[11]  Note the similarities to today’s global warming alarmists, who also say, “there is unanimous agreement on …” or “the consensus shows ….”


Then the experts from Stanford and Harvard Universities – who are obviously followers of Malthus – weighed in: “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,” according to Peter Erlich, who was also the author the 1968 best-selling book, The Population Bomb.[12] 


Dr. George Wald, a biologist from Harvard, said, during the first celebrations of Earth Day in 1970, “Civilization will end within 15-30 years unless immediate action is taken.”  If that “end of the world” prediction had come true, we would not be here today and would have been gone for the last 15 years.  Professor Wald has passed away, without the satisfaction of seeing his prediction come true. of millions of people did not die of starvation in the 1980s – nor today – and his data and predications are demonstrably wrong, yet Professor Erlich remains quite gainfully employed as President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford.  Currently he is writing and lecturing on the “Sixth Mass Extinction.”[13]  According to Dr. Erlich, we are in the midst of the “worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.”[14]


This is a continuation of the prophecy made during the 1970 Earth Day by Dr. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, which stated that between 75 and 80 percent of all species of animals would be extinct by 1995.  This would be massive numbers of species simply going away.  In 2015 it would appear that this has not come true.  The number of new species discovered in 2014 was over 18,000, and some scientists estimate there are “over 10 million species that still haven’t been identified, five times the number” we already know about and study.[15]


Additionally, those who disagree with the Sixth Mass Extinction prophecy argue that the species moving towards extinction are already rare, have evolved in isolation and in small numbers, and have thus simply not been able to survive any contact with the outside world and other species.  Specifically, “islands are estimated to be the sites of 95 percent of all bird extinctions, 90 percent of reptile extinctions, and 60 percent of mammal extinctions.”[16]  Islands, however, represent only 3 percent of the earth’s land mass, with little to no effect on the other 97 percent of the land mass, where thousands of new species are being found every year. 


Yet Professor Erlich and others are still predicting the end of the world.  In a recent speech at the University of Vermont Erlich said, “I believe and all of my colleagues believe that we are on a straightforward course to a collapse of our civilization.”[17]  “All of my colleagues”?!


As other experts jumped on the global cooling bandwagon, an infamous 1975 Newsweek story by Science Editor Peter Gwynne said, “There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas – parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia – where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.”[18]


The story ended by saying, “Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.”[19]


Finally, predictions made during this same time period by the University of California-Davis ecology professor Kenneth Watt said, “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.”[20]


Mr. Gwynne and others have since “recanted” their false prophecies, instead saying that “those who reject global warming ignore the fact that climatology has evolved.”[21]  Certainly, as with other predictions which have not come true, man’s development of technology and market-driven responses to the situations around him have changed the outcomes.  However, little – if any – of this success has been the result of government command and control.


If we return to the 1800s we can find many more failed predictions.  All have been overcome by the ingenuity and technological developments of the last 200 years, and all have failed to follow the central “planners’ ” stated direction and result. 




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