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Earth Day predictions of 1970. The reason you shouldn’t believe Earth Day predictions of 2009.



April 23, 2010 – Comments (4)

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For the next 24 hours, the media will assault us with tales of imminent disaster that always accompany the annual Earth Day Doom & Gloom Extravaganza.


Ignore them. They’ll be wrong. We’re confident in saying that because they’ve always been wrong. And always will be.

Need proof? Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.

“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

We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

“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, the day after the first Earth Day

“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

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4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 24, 2010 at 3:28 AM, AltData (31.94) wrote:

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(Geez. I can't get that picture of that chicken to post here. Durnit!) 

Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.

Just to point out. That particular chicken was justified at the end of that movie.

He does exaggerate but he's not completely wrong.

Part of a transcript from The American Experience/Earth Days

Stewart Udall, The Conservationist: There were no environmental laws when I became the Secretary of the Interior. The rivers of this country essentially were sewers! There was a smog episode in New York City that killed a large number of people. Air pollution that killed people. We made, during the 1960s, the first list of endangered species and what was at the top of the list? The American Bald Eagle, our national symbol.

Rusty Schweickart, The Astronaut: As an astronaut I was really emotionally invested in what was happening with the planet. Being who I was and not just blasting my little pink body up into space but being able to look back with my human eyes and brain and my heart and see this planet below me, to me, you know technology has clearly both good sides and bad sides its how one uses it.

Apollo 9 was the first flight that flew the lunar module, and I was the first lunar module pilot. And I also went outside the lunar module and it would be the first time that a human being went outside the spacecraft without an umbilical. Dave’s in the command module, hanging out of the hatch with a movie camera when all of a sudden, he says “uh hey, hold on my camera just jammed.’ So, Jim says, “Well I’ll give you five minutes. Rusty just stay right there.” I’m just floating there almost as if I’m naked in space. And all, all of this stuff starts coming into my mind: I’m here because life has evolved on this planet, we’ve developed brains which enable us to invent machines. In combination with those machines we are able to extend our environment and here I am on the frontier of this evolutionary process. What am I? I’m a representative of life moving out into the universe. So the idea of mother earth, that phrase has real meaning, from the outside you can look back—the child now sees its mother. We human beings, we this life form on this incredible planet, it’s coated with life, where are we going? .... (Good question.)

Stewart Brand, The Futurist: There was an enormous economic boom going on after the war, there was this “progress is our most important product” feeling to the 1950s. And I was one of many relatively spoiled children of that, compared to the people who grew up in the Depression.

When I was a kid growing up in Rockford, Illinois, I was reading Outdoor Life and I took the Conservation Pledge. “I give my pledge as an American to faithfully defend from waste the natural resources of my country—Its soil and minerals, its forests, waters and wildlife.” That was me, at age 10 or something like that. I got rubber stamps that I put on all of my books that said that. And I guess like a lot of that generation I saw pieces of that childhood destroyed in one way or another you couldn’t go back to. Then you get that sense of angst, well, how much of this process of loss is going to go on?...


Denis Hayes, The Organizer: I was born into a papermaking family. So, my youth was surrounded by the felling of trees and by paper mills that produced vast quantities of uncontrolled sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. I think I probably have a bit of diminished lung capacity that grew out of breathing all of that acid for all of those years. There is probably some Freudian rebellion against my father that was part of it. So I was intensely aware that there were these destructive things going on to the land around me but I guess as I was growing up it wasn’t something that I thought of as, as a question. I mean, this was just progress. There is something much more insidious with things that are not so visible and nevertheless have dramatic impacts. Like nuclear fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests. When I was born, Strontium-90 didn’t exist. By the time I was a teenager every living creature on the planet had Strontium-90 in its bones or its shells. That is a fairly profound change and we’d done it.

You can watch and read more here.

Take everything with a grain of salt. I can be skeptical of the media including the media that hates the media.

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#2) On April 24, 2010 at 4:14 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

Devoish takes me on in his blog. Why there and not here? Me thinks the Alstry disease has spread.

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#3) On April 25, 2010 at 7:08 PM, AltData (31.94) wrote:

You can't receive rec's posting on someone else's blog post.


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#4) On April 25, 2010 at 11:09 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

Good point.

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