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Environmental hysterics

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By David Deming

April 6, 2008

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley recently warned that failure to take action on global warming could mean the extinction of the human race. Over the last few years, we've been repeatedly warned we are in the midst of a climate crisis that threatens our survival. Al Gore calls it a "planetary emergency."

We might take this concern more seriously if the doom-mongering wing of the environmental movement weren't burdened by a long history of false prophecies.

In the mid- to late-1960s, the leading environmental concern was overpopulation. The 1967 book "Famine 1975!" warned "by 1975 a disaster of unprecedented magnitude will face the world ... famines will ravage the undeveloped nations ... this is the greatest problem facing mankind." A sober review of the book in the scholarly journal Science characterized the prediction of mass starvation as "self-evident," argued that technological solutions were "unrealistic," and concluded that catastrophe was unavoidable. The reviewer concluded "all responsible investigators agree that the tragedy will occur."

More widely read was Paul Ehrlich's shrill screed, "The Population Bomb" (1968). Mr. Ehrlich began with the infamous words "the battle to feed all of humanity is over," and claimed that "in the 1970s ... hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." "We must have population control," Mr. Ehrlich argued, because it is the "only answer."

Mr. Ehrlich followed "The Population Bomb" in 1969 with publication of the essay, "Eco-Catastrophe," in which he predicted the Green Revolution would fail and that the "ignorance" of the Cornucopian economists would be exposed. By 1980, environmental degradation would wipe out all "important animal life" in the world's oceans, people would choke to death from air pollution by the hundreds of thousands, and life expectancy in the United States would fall to 42 years. "Western society," Mr. Ehrlich proclaimed, "is in the process of completing the rape and murder of the planet for economic gain."

In 1975, the news media informed us that a new Ice Age was imminent. An article in the Chicago Tribune titled "B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon?" noted "It's getting colder." The Tribune interpreted a number of ordinary weather events "as evidence that a significant shift in climate is taking place — a shift that could be the forerunner of an Ice Age." The New York Times chimed in, warning their readers that "a major cooling may be ahead." Famed science reporter Walter Sullivan announced "the world's climate is changing ... a new ice age is on the way."

Within 10 years, the imminent calamity of global cooling was replaced by global warming. And the mass famines predicted by Paul Ehrlich and others never happened.

From 1970 through 2000, the world's population grew from 3.7 billion to 6.1 billion. But the food supply grew faster. Between 1970 and 2000, per capita food increased by 15 percent. The problem today is not of famine but of too much food. Obesity is even becoming a problem in the developing world.

Better science and more reasonable voices preceded Mr. Ehrlich, but were ignored by a media fascinated with frenetic alarmism.

In 1960, ecologist Edward Deevey calmly predicted that the rapid growth in world population would be temporary. He was right. The growth rate of the world population peaked in the early 1960s and was already in decline when Mr. Ehrlich published "The Population Bomb" in 1968. Europe and Japan now have negative population growth, and the birthrate in developing countries is falling rapidly as these regions undergo a demographic transition.

It is apparent that world population will stabilize at 9 billion to 10 billion around the middle of this century.

None of the environmental catastrophes Mr. Ehrlich predicted occurred. Since 1970, the six principal air pollutants tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency have fallen significantly, even while U.S. population and energy use have grown. In 1990, Mr. Ehrlich's own ignorance was exposed when he lost a wager over the price of commodities to Cornucopian economist Julian Simon.

And the Green Revolution was a success. It has been estimated that the father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, singlehandedly saved the lives of a billion people. Higher crop yields from improved grain varieties also helped preserve the environment by limiting the need to convert undeveloped areas to arable land.

History repeats itself. So, please excuse my skepticism when you claim global warming means the end of the world is nigh. I have heard it all before.

http://washingtontimes.com/article/2008040...Y/48905088/1012

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I agree that the overdramatic rhetoric is a bit much.

Politicians have a propensity for exaggerating the truth.

Kinda like you?


"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."- Ayn Rand

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Filed: Country: Jamaica
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My daughter has been on a tare lately to become some kind of environmentalist and singlehandly save the planet. Some days I find it very sweet and noble. Other days, she bugs the ####### out of me.


Life's just a crazy ride on a run away train

You can't go back for what you've missed

So make it count, hold on tight find a way to make it right

You only get one trip

So make it good, make it last 'cause it all flies by so fast

You only get one trip

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I agree that the overdramatic rhetoric is a bit much.

Politicians have a propensity for exaggerating the truth.

Kinda like you?

If I become a Republican, will you like me then, Marc?

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I agree that the overdramatic rhetoric is a bit much.

Politicians have a propensity for exaggerating the truth.

Kinda like you?

If I become a Republican, will you like me then, Marc?

Perhaps if you become a schizophrenic, diaper-wearer. At least that's what I'm getting from him in the other thread ;)

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Colombia
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Also agreeable. When we let the drama queens/kings dominate the public discourse of what is going on, we (and science) lose to the actual problem we are causing.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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Also agreeable. When we let the drama queens/kings dominate the public discourse of what is going on, we (and science) lose to the actual problem we are causing.

That was really one of the points I was trying to make the other day. I can't say with authority one way or another if man is causing global warming or indeed if we are even having global warming at this point. Of course I have my doubts as I already spelled out but the final point was we are listening to the alarmists about doom and gloom and then making policy on that. I would rather let science come to a real conclusion as to our current condition and then make decisions based on that. To me the hysteria about GW is just that, hysteria. In a few years I fully expect for this "crisis" to pass and some other doomsday scenario will be dominating our headlines.

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Also agreeable. When we let the drama queens/kings dominate the public discourse of what is going on, we (and science) lose to the actual problem we are causing.

That was really one of the points I was trying to make the other day. I can't say with authority one way or another if man is causing global warming or indeed if we are even having global warming at this point. Of course I have my doubts as I already spelled out but the final point was we are listening to the alarmists about doom and gloom and then making policy on that. I would rather let science come to a real conclusion as to our current condition and then make decisions based on that. To me the hysteria about GW is just that, hysteria. In a few years I fully expect for this "crisis" to pass and some other doomsday scenario will be dominating our headlines.

I agree that it is a lot of hysteria, though I haven't watched The Inconvenient Truth yet, and I'm old enough to remember being afraid of the coming ice age, but I do think that regardless of whether or not it spells our doom, the harm we are doing to the environment is inexcusable - just in terms of esthetics if nothing else. Maybe this is because I live in China and I see, smell, and taste the pollution.


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I agree that the overdramatic rhetoric is a bit much.

Politicians have a propensity for exaggerating the truth.

Kinda like you?

That's out of line, Marc. Please stop comments such as these in the future. Thanks.

What is out of line is how you guys, the moderators, conveniently turn a blind eye to Alex+R, VJ Troll, Jenn, #6, Fancy Pants etc.

I can post 1,000 personal attacks, TOS violation, by the above that have gone unchecked. You guys should just come out and post that if you are a liberal here you can say what you want. Bullying is also acceptable. On the other hand, if you have contrary views you are allowed to be attacked but the second you say something back you are warned, banned etc etc. Getting a little tiring to be honest.

Edited by Boo-Yah!

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the 400 richest American households earned a total of $US138 billion, up from $US105 billion a year earlier. That's an average of $US345 million each, on which they paid a tax rate of just 16.6 per cent.

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