It’s 1967 and biologist Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University steps onto the stage at the Commonwealth Club of California to warn the country and the world about over-population in the United States. He fixes his eyes on attendees and says, “the time of famines” has arrived and will be “disastrous” by 1975. His big idea to thwart this imminent threat involved putting sterilizing agents into the food and water supply and to apply pressure to the Catholic church to support his solution. Paul Ehrlich penned this dire prediction in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb”, which also declared, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death no matter what people do”.
Paul Ehrlich’s failed attempt to be some sort of modern-day Nostradamus is evident in the fact that since 1970, hunger in the developing world has gone from 35% to less than 15% of the population.
It appears that Paul Ehrlich has a leftist license to be wrong since neither Stanford nor the balance of the liberal media seems inclined to ask him how he got it all so wrong. On the contrary, Stanford rewarded Mr. Ehrlich’s silly and erroneous prognostications by presenting him with a ‘Bing Professorship’ in population studies for his commitment to excellence! A dozen other environmental groups decided to ignore his inaccuracies and bestow their own awards upon him.
Not to be outdone by Paul Ehrlich, Dr. S. I. Rasool and Steven Schneider of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Columbia University said in 1971, “In the next 50 years, the fine dust that man constantly puts into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees. If sustained over several years, “these low temperatures could be sufficient to trigger an ice age”.
Not only did the average temperatures not drop 6 degrees, but they also have increased by 1 degree 40 years after we were supposed to be building igloos in New York City.
In 1988, James Hansen, a NASA scientist, predicted regional droughts and in the 1990s said oceans would rise by 6 feet, resulting in parts of New York besieged by catastrophic floodwaters. Mr. Hansen decided he’d not had enough of being wrong, and in 2008 proclaimed the Arctic would be ice-free by 2018. James Hansen’s failed predictions earned him the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal In 2009 for his “outstanding contributions to climate modeling, understanding climate change forcings and sensitivity, and for clear communication of climate science in the public arena.”
Based on predictions of a multitude of climate scientists, The Guardian said in 2004, “Britain will look like Siberia in 2020”. And, let us not forget the venerable Al Gore, whose proclamations/predictions based on “the best climate science of the day”, were completely wrong. It’s worthy of note that Mr. Gore elaborated on the evils of burning fossil fuels while sporting a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint in his 10,000+ square foot home and jet-set lifestyle.
More recently, we have the likes of Ocasio Cortez informing us that we only have ten years left until the point of no return. Mind you, this is the same individual that railed against Amazon bringing 25,000 new jobs to New York and 27 billion in tax revenue, not to mention the boon to existing businesses and creation of new ones that a shiny new Amazon HQ2 would’ve spawned.
As ridiculous as Ms. Cortez might appear in her brand of fallacious confidence, is she any worse than eminent scientists weaving fantasies of apocalyptic doom that never materialize, but become political talking points for radical leftist politicians? I would say she is better because she’s simply parroting bad prognostications by luminaries at our prestigious universities who are the ones creating them.
Are California wildfires getting worse and more frequent because of climate change? You would be hard-pressed to find any media sources, particularly mainstream, that don’t answer the question with a resounding YES!
But before they exclaim so loudly that climate change is tantamount to a match accelerating wildfires in California, perhaps a few simple points might lower the decibels of their maniacal screams. For instance, many say “forest fires are five times worse than they were since records started being kept in the 1930’s”. But that tidbit is never accompanied by two pieces of information they know, but avoid, because it softens the narrative that manmade climate change is to blame. The first fact is that 90% of wildfires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, equipment use and malfunctions, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson, the other 10% by lighting strikes. So, if there’s been an increase in fires caused by humans, the next logical step is to look at population growth. California’s population grew from about 5 million in 1930 to nearly 40 million today. Upon doing a little simple math, it’s quite clear that those saying climate change is the main driver are wrong. Are they even looking at the correct data? If 90% of fires are caused by man being careless or criminal and the population has increased by 8 times since 1930, shouldn’t the incidence of fires be more prevalent by a factor of 8? Instead, the claim that there has only been a 5x increase in fires suggests statistically fewer fires since 1930.
Not a single catastrophic prediction has materialized. The frequency of hurricanes has not increased according to an in-depth study (1878 to 2016) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The number of F3+ tornados between 1954 and 2014 has decreased in NOAA studies. Famines? The world is better fed now than at any time in recorded history. Climate change is causing more dire living conditions. Today people live in 80% less extreme conditions than at any point in recorded history. Global child mortality is 10-fold lower than it was two centuries ago. The world is far more literate. When it comes to people dying from climate-related events (floods, droughts, storms, wildfires, extreme temperatures) has dropped from nearly 500,000 in 1920 to around 30,000 today.
My intention is not to suggest that scientific observations concerning global temperature increases are invalid, that populations have not increased, or that man has not in some way – big or small- influenced the climate. The point is merely to illustrate that those who originate scientific data, particularly involving the climate, should stick to rigors of the scientific method and refrain from hysterical activism, however alluring it might be.