50 years of doomsday climate-change predictions that didn’t come true

This post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds

Yesterday, Sept. 20, 2019, was Friday, a school day. But countless young people in the U.S. and across the world skipped school to protest in a global “climate strike”.

In the “woke” San Francisco Bay Area, school children skipped school to protest about climate change, putting pressure on politicians and corporations they say are contributing to an environmental crisis.

As reported by Berkeleyside, one of the protesters, Berkeley High junior Adrienne Mermin, 16, described climate change as apocalyptic. She warned: “There’s a deadline on our existence and a deadline on when we can reverse this. When climate change and climate justice was connected to environmental racism, it became more than just ‘the ice caps are melting,’ and more ‘this affects all of us, and every single one of us can help stop this.’”

Mermin was echoing the doomsday warnings of adults like Al Gore, who predicted the North Pole would be ice-free by 2016; Prince Charles, who said in 2009 that because of capitalism and consumerism, we had just 96 months or 8 years, i.e., until 2017, to save the world; and more recently Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who proclaimed Miami would disappear in “a few years” due to climate change.

Writing for the Competitive Enterprise Institute on Sept. 18, 2019, Myron Ebell and Steven J. Milloy remind us that Gore, Chucky and AOC are just the latest instances of doomsayers who have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. Like Gore, et al., the makers of these apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science. The problem is this: “None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true,” and the media won’t report on the failed predictions.

What follows is a collection of apocalyptic climate predictions from notable people in government and science:

  1. In 1967, Stanford University “population biologist” Paul Ehrlich said that because of unrestrained population growth, “the time of famines” was already upon us and would be at its worst and most disastrous by 1975. (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 17, 1967, p. 9)
  2. Two years later in 1969, Ehrlich warned that “by the time we have enough evidence to convince people” about the world’s runaway population growth, a limited food supply, and man’s contamination of the environment, “you’re dead” because “everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue stream in 20 years” — i.e., by 1989. (New York Times, August 10, 1969)
  3. A year later in 1970, Ehrlich once again sounded a doomsday warning that “the oceans would be as dead as Lake Erie in less than a decade,” and that America would have water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980. (Redlands Daily Facts, October 6, 1970)
  4.  In 1970, James P. Lodge Jr., a scientist at the national center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, predicted that air pollution would obliterate the sun and cause a new ice age in the first third of the 21st century, and that if the current rate of increase in electric power generation continued, the demands for cooling water would “boil dry the entire flow of the rivers and streams of continental United States.” (Boston Globe, April 16, 1970)
  5. In 1971, Dr. S. I. Rasool of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Columbia University, predicted that “in the next 50 years, i.e., by 2021, the fine dust we put into the atmosphere by fossil-fuel burning could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees. (Washington Post, July 9, 1971)
  6. In 1972, R. K. Matthews, chairman of Brown University’s Department of Geological Sciences, wrote in a letter to President Richard Nixon that “a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experienced by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon.” (NOAA, October 2015)
  7. In 1974, “preliminary analysis” of space satellites conducted by European climatologists George and Helena Kukla showed that the world had plunged into a new ice age, with snow and ice cover of the earth having increased by as much as 12% in just five years, from 1967 to 1972. (The Guardian, January 29, 1974)
  8. In 1974, “a growing number of scientists” found that the earth’s atmosphere had been gradually cooling for the last three decades. “Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F.” and “The telltale signs are everywhere — from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest”. (TIME, June 24, 1974)

Go to Competitive Enterprise Institute for 18 more apocalyptic climate-change predictions that didn’t come true, one of which is this doozy:

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