Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Predictions

Today is Earth Day. I guess I typically only give it a passing thought. It seems to me it was a much bigger deal when I was in school, but perhaps that is because they made it such a big deal. I probably would not have blogged about it had I not been listening to my favorite morning radio show, The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd and heard him read off some of the environmental predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970. I would like to share these with you:

Keep in mind these were all made in 1970 (and I got them from this post here)

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” 
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“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
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: 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, January 1970
“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.” 
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.
Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.” 
• Martin Litton, Sierra Club director
“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.’”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
• Sen. Gaylord Nelson
“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, Ecologist
Now what really made me laugh is a caller to the show that said these quotes are from the parents of the folks that are now shouting, "global warming, global warming"!
Richard Todd said it reminded him of Conan O'Brien's skit, "In the Year 2000", which was always hilarious!
I think it is very interesting to go back, especially on a subject such as global warming and see what scientists and environmentalists were predicting so many years ago. It really puts it all into perspective and shows us how much is truly left up to an individuals interpretation of data. Seems to me much of this data is about as reliable as polls and statistics, which we all know can be skewed to support whatever argument you are making. Half the time the same statistics can be used to support opposite arguments!
Anyway, just a little "food for thought" on this, the 40th year of celebrating Earth Day. Cheers, Mother Earth...oh, and could you please limit those 100+ degree and high humidity days in Charleston this year? I promise I will stop using water bottles!


Iris Silk said...

Well written, well researched and very funny! Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

I love "In the year 2000"!

I remember hearing weird predictions like this when I was little and would be all freaked out. And none of them happened. LOL.