Thirty Years ago, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Fifth Avenue in New York City was closed to automobiles as 100,000 people joined in concerts, lectures, and street theater. More than 2,000 colleges and universities across America paused their anti-war protests to rally instead against pollution and population growth. Even Congress recessed, acknowledging that the environment was now on a political par with motherhood.So where is reason now? We have just experience another Earth Day. Have the participants learnt anything?
Let's look at some of the predictions from the first Earth Day:
"Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." — Harvard biologist George WaldForty Five Years on, I think we are safe. There has been no global warming for half that time, George. Oh, George died in 1997. So I suppose civilization did end for poor George.
- "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." — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
- "Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [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
And Paul wrote Impact of Population Growth reviewed in Science, New Series, Vol. 171, No. 3977. (Mar. 26, 1971), pp. 1212-1217 with POTUS Obama's chief CC advisor John Holdren.
Sorry, Paul. The rise in atmospheric CO2 has increased the biomass of the planet and therefore increased the food for man and beast.
From ecologist Ken Wyatt:
Peak Oil? Not by 2000 and no end in sight mid 2015. But Cooling? Kenneth stand by. There are scientists NOW who are predicting the same thing. Perhaps you made your run 30 years to soon.
- "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.'" — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
- "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
Quotes from "Earth Day, Then and Now," by Ronald Bailey, Reason.com. May 1, 2000.