Climate, population, resources: the failure of prophecy 7

Has anything the global-warming alarmists prophesied would happen actually happened?

Not that we’ve noticed.

We were all supposed to be so afraid we’d freeze or burn, or starve, or drown, that we would put ourselves in the hands of the prophets and their government sponsors and do whatever – and only whatever – they told us to do.

Lucky we didn’t!

We quote from a recent (April 24, 2015) article by Robert Tracinski at The Federalist. The whole thing is worth reading. The writer supplies impressive charts which confirm his contentions.

It has been 45 years now since the first Earth Day. You would think that in this time frame, given the urgency with which we were told we had to confront the supposed threats to the environment — Harvard biologist George Wald told us, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken” — at least one of the big environmental disasters should have come to fruition.

Fifteen years ago, an article in Reason took a look at claims like this from the first Earth Day in 1970. The specific quotations have been helpfully excerpted here and have been bounced around a lot on the Internet and on conservative talk radio for the last few days. It is a comical litany of forecasting gone wrong. …

In the 1970s global cooling [was predicted] and a descent into a new ice age. We were causing the ice age and bringing the glaciers down on our own heads. …

As late as 1980, Carl Sagan was still presenting global cooling as one of two possible doomsday scenarios we could choose from. When global temperatures began to rise, the alarmists switched to the other scenario. The one thing they didn’t change was the assumption that industrial civilization must somehow be destroying the whole planet.

When environmentalists said that we were destroying the Earth, they meant it directly and literally. The biggest problem was the very existence of humans, the fact that there were just too darned many of us. We were going to keep growing unchecked, and we were going to swarm the surface of the Earth like locusts, destroying everything in our path until we eventually used it all up.

There were going to be an inconceivable seven billion people on Earth by the year 2000, and there was just no way we could support them all.


First of all, present trends did not continue … So it took us a bit longer, until 2012, to reach a global population of seven billion — who are better off than the population of Earth has ever been. … Starting from 1820, the early years of the Industrial Revolution, what we see is the growth of production and wealth far outstripping the growth of population, over a period of two centuries. …

To fully grasp how badly the “population bomb” predictions failed, you have to realize that the biggest demographic challenge today is declining population. Japan faces a demographic death spiral in which declining population and fewer workers leads to economic stagnation, which discourages people from having kids, which makes the problem worse. After decades of a “one child” policy, China’s working age population is also starting to decline, and it is conventional wisdom that the country is going to “grow old before it grows rich”.

It’s quite possible that the demographic implosion won’t come or won’t be as bad as feared. We’ve seen a lot of cases so far where current trends do not continue. But it is important to grasp the actual consequences of the failed predictions about “overpopulation”.  Countries that took these claims seriously, and especially those who enforced population control at the point of a gun, like China, are going to suffer real consequences from listening to the failed theories of Western alarmists.

Predictions of global famine were part of the population growth hysteria …

[But] let’s just take India, where the famines were supposed to start. In 2013, India became the world’s “seventh-largest exporter of agricultural products”.

China is prosperous and relatively well-fed — much better than under Mao’s disastrous experiments.

Most Latin American countries, which were supposed to be starving fifteen years ago, are also net exporters of grain, fruit, meat, and so on. …

In addition to running out of food, we were also supposed to run out of natural resources, such as nickel and copper, and above all we were running out of oil. …

None of these predictions came true. … the theory was that we would eventually reach a peak in global oil production, after which we would be doomed to make do with an ever-dwindling supply. It’s a theory that has been shattered by the fracking revolution, which revived US oil supplies after decades of decline and promises to do so across the world. The cause was a series of innovations in drilling and extraction that made it possible to access huge new reserves of oil in shale formations, where it could not be tapped before.

That’s the answer to all of the overpopulation, mass starvation, and resource depletion hysteria: the human power of innovation is able to overcome any obstacle. …

The human mind is the ultimate resource, and a rising population simply means more brains that are able to solve more problems. …

After a multi-decade plateau in global temperatures, they are now at or below the low end of the range for all of the computer models that predicted global warming.

If we go full circle, back to the failed prediction of global cooling, we can see the wider trend. After two or three decades of cooling temperatures, from the 1940s to 1970, environmentalists project a cooling trend — only to have the climate change on them. After a few decades of warmer temperatures, from the 1970s to the late 1990s, they all jumped onto the bandwagon of projecting a continued warming trend — and the darned climate changed again, staying roughly flat since about 1998.

No wonder all of these environmental hysterias seem to begin with the phrase, “if current trends continue”. But current trends don’t continue. Global temperatures go down, then up, then stay flat. Population growth tapers off, while agricultural yields increase at even higher rates. We don’t just sit around using up our currently available oil reserves; we go out and find new reserves of oil and new ways to extract it.

And that’s the real issue. The environmental doomsayers don’t just extrapolate blindly from current trends. They extrapolate only from the trends that fit their apocalyptic vision while ignoring trends that don’t fit. They project forward the current rate at which we’re using up our resources, but ignore the history of our ability to innovate and create. They get all excited by 20 years of rising temperature or rising oil prices — but ignore two centuries of rising wealth and longevity.

It’s almost as if they started with a preconceived conclusion and cast about for evidence to support it. …

[Here are] the major outlines of an environmental hysteria. The steps are: a) start with assumption that man is “ravaging the Earth”, b) latch onto an unproven scientific hypothesis that fits this preconception, c) extrapolate wildly from half-formed theories and short-term trends to predict a future apocalypse, d) pressure a bunch of people with “Ph.D.” after their names to endorse it so you can say it’s a consensus of experts, e) get the press to broadcast it with even less nuance and get a bunch of Hollywood celebrities who failed Freshman biology to adopt it as their pet cause, then finally f) quietly drop the whole thing when it doesn’t pan out — and move on with undiminished enthusiasm to the next environmental doomsday scenario.

When men fail as entirely as they have — well, I’m not going to ask them to fall on their swords. But we might ask them to understand why, when they assure us their newest doomsday predictions are really, really true this time, we’re not inclined to believe a single word they say.


(Hat-tip for the link to our Facebook commenter Nadir H. Khan)

  • Azgael

    We do have a overpopulation crisis, overpopulation of lieftists that is..maybe its time to cull the heard as they say

  • liz

    Great points. Environmentalists are the boy who cried wolf. I don’t know if a majority of people will catch on, though. They’re too afraid of being labeled “denialists” by all the supposedly smart people.

    • Bruce

      Book learning in no substitute for common sense. Nor is belief (hope and faith) a substitute for evidence. In science, the models and theories should change to fit observed phenomena. However, so many liberals have their own egos (and a whole lot of cash) mixed up in “saving the Earth,” they literally can’t take the idea that they might be wrong. Not to mention how many people have died due to energy poverty in developing countries due to their policies. That right there could constitute crimes against humanity, if they are indeed aware of evidence disproving their pseudo-druidic twaddle.

      • liz

        That’s right. As with all leftist “fronts”, such as the promotion of “peaceful protest” against “racism”, “saving the earth” from “evil capitalism” is a bogus load of crap used to further the leftist agenda, and results in real harm to people and society.


        “Book learning in no substitute for common sense.”

        Bravo! One of the most intelligent lines I’ve read all week!

        “Nor is belief (hope and faith) a substitute for evidence.”

        A man after my own heart! The believers are blind. Blind meaning they resist the impulse to examine said belief against perceived, validated information.

        Their excuse is what they believe is warranted by “evidence of the heart.”

        Emotions are charlatans, without facts and evidence to support them.


      These Leftist types are fearful of almost anything that you can name. So much that it has become a habit with them, liz……This is why they feel the irresistible need to CONTROL EVERYTHING.

      • liz

        Control freaks… Just think, if Hillary gets elected, we’ll even have an official Nanny for our nanny-state!