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Listen to the scientists

02 Oct 2019 | OP ED Watch

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has compiled 50 years’ worth of failed eco-alarmist predictions on its blog. It’s quite the parade of foolishness from the mouths of eminent scientists over the years, and we’d be tempted to laugh it all off if it weren’t simply a prelude to today’s even bigger parade of foolishness à la Greta and the Climate Emergency crowd. Listen to the scientists, they insist. OK, let’s. But when we do they don’t come off very well.

We have had some fun ourselves on the theme of past alarmist predictions. The CEI stories begin in 1967 with Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich solemnly predicting a worldwide, long term famine induced by overpopulation to commence by 1975, which would lead to the risk of nuclear war and require forced human sterilization since production of enough food would be “totally impossible in practice.” And just in case he wasn’t clear enough, in 1969 Ehrlich appeared in the New York Times predicting the wiping out of the human race “in a cloud of blue steam” by 1989. (Which we unaccountably missed, being perhaps more fixated on the fall of the Berlin Wall that the pundit class failed to see coming.)

There followed predictions of global cooling and a new ice age, water rationing in the US by 1974 and food rationing by 1980, cooling, freezing and more cooling (“No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend” – New York Times, January 5 1978); then suddenly, warming, heatwaves and drought. In 1988 we learned that the Maldives would be completely under water by 2018 and the West Side Highway in New York City would be submerged by 2019. In 2000 David Viner of the University of East Anglia warned that snow would be a thing of the past within a few years. And there’s more.

Not snow, we mean, though there is. Warnings that didn’t happen. The Arctic would be ice-free by 2018, Britain would be uninhabitable by 2020, and, according to Prince Charles (among others), the world would end due to climate change by 2017.

At least if we’re all going to die, it will be from laughing.

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