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Environmental Author Paul Ehrlich still prophesying doom, and still wrong!

Steverno~POTL~PWCM~JLA 2012/04/26 18:39:06

Paul Ehrlich, the author of The Population Bomb and the 20th century's keeper of the Malthusian flame, has popped up in The Guardian. "The world's most renowned population analyst has called for a massive reduction in the number of humans and for natural resources to be redistributed from the rich to the poor," it reports, both gushingly and alarmingly. (Hat tip to the estimable Dan Gardner for noticing, by the way.)

"Ehrlich, who was described as alarmist in the 1970s but who says most of his predictions have proved correct, says he was gloomy about humanity's ability to feed over 9 billion people [the predicted population peak in 2050]," it says. He says that, does he? So, let's take a look at some of his predictions, made in 1968:

1) “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate,” he said. He predicted four billion deaths, including 65 million Americans.

What actually happened: Since Ehrlich wrote, the population has more than doubled to seven billion – but the amount of food per head has gone up by more than 25 per cent. Of course there are famines, but the death rate has gone down. I don't think a significant number of Americans have starved.

2) "The train of events leading to the dissolution of India as a viable nation is already in motion.” India was doomed, and should be left to die in a "triage" system that would concentrate resources on those places that can be saved.

What actually happened: The Green Revolution, a series of technological and agrarian advances led by a man called Norman Borlaug, transformed our ability to produce food. These techniques were introduced to India by one Prof Monkombu Swaminathan. “They [Ehrlich, and Paul and William Paddock, authors of Famine: 1975!] said Indians, and others, were like sheep going to the slaughterhouse. They’ll all die,”Swaminathan told Gardner in an interview. But thanks to Borlaug, Swaminathan, and human ingenuity, India is now one of the few countries with a booming economy, and is a net exporter, rather than recipient, of food aid. But if Ehrlich's and the Paddocks' advice had been followed, there could have been tens of millions of deaths, says Swaminathan.

3) "By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."

What actually happened: I'm not hungry. I just ate. Are you hungry? Were you hungry in 2000, especially? Does England exist?

As recently as 2009 Ehrlich was saying The Population Bomb was "too optimistic". But he's wrong. He's not lying, he entirely believes what he is saying, but he is wrong. For the reasons why he is wrong, and why smart people make such dreadful predictions and then stick to them so rigidly even after they have obviously not come true, please read Gardner's brilliant book Future Babble; for a small taste, read this comment piece I wrote for the paper a few months ago. But when he says that "most of his predictions have proved correct", remember what some of those predictions actually were.

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From: The London Telegraph
By: Tom Chivers


Read More: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscienc...

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  • Temlakos~POTL~PWCM~JLA~☆ 2012/04/26 18:49:58
    Temlakos~POTL~PWCM~JLA~☆
    +12
    Add to it that James Lovelock recanted on twenty years of global warming alarmism.

    Paul Ehrlich, his wife, and John Holdren also tri-authored a book in which they proposed poisoning the water so that people couldn't have children.

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Opinions

  • goatman112003 2012/04/27 08:00:19
    goatman112003
    +2
    The man has been smoking Pelosi's herbal blend before it was legal in California.
  • Stevern... goatman... 2012/04/27 14:38:26
    Steverno~POTL~PWCM~JLA
    +1
    I'm thinking he was also a acid dropper too!

    lsd gifs
  • exhon2009 2012/04/27 02:12:40
    exhon2009
    +2
    This broken clock of an prophet is right in only one country on earth: North Korea.
  • Georgia50 2012/04/26 23:35:57
    Georgia50
    +2
    Anyone who truly believes what this person believes has a moral obligation to off themselves.
  • Murph 2012/04/26 21:36:39
    Murph
    +2
    Is that clown still alive?
  • apachehellfire65 2012/04/26 21:04:57
    apachehellfire65
    +1
    the key word here is AUTHOR! he will keep saying anything he has too to sell books.
  • Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum 2012/04/26 20:14:29
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    Ehrlich will be right in the long run. The 21st century will probably see the biggest die off of the human species in the history of the world if we choose not to heed his warnings.

    peak oil
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/26 20:38:01
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    I seriously doubt it! If it were to happen, it is even more doubtful it will be the result of over-population. It will be the result of warring governments.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/26 23:17:36
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    Warring governments, overpopulation, and energy and resource constraints are all interrelated. Flip sides of the same coin.
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/27 18:10:13
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    There have been warring governments for as long as there have been governments. We don't have any energy and resource constraints. We simply don't have the desire or the permission to develop some resources and produce energy. There is no overpopulation. The density in most of the world, even the US is far less than parts of Asia and Europe and we could support a much higher density. Whether it is desirable or not is another question, but we aren't even approaching the natural limits of mother earth.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/27 18:59:45
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    At our current lifestyles and ppopulation, we are far into ecological overshoot. The US standard of living cannot exist without a lifeline of resources from overseas. These will be secured by violence, or else our industrial civilization will collapse. My guess - a little of both.
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/27 19:24:20 (edited)
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    On that we will just have to agree to disagree. I'd make the same bet Julian Simon made with Paul Ehrlich, but with the way Obama and the Fed are devaluing the currency, it would be like playing penny ante poker. ;)
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/27 22:37:27
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    Julian Simon's grasp of reality leaves much to be desired. He may have won the bet with Ehrlich about the timing of the resource constraints, but Simon's understanding of economics defies the laws of physics. Ehrlich will be shown to be the wiser of the two in the end.
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/29 01:12:09
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    Are you a physicist? We'll never know in our lifetime nor will our grandchildren.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/30 16:45:17
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    I'm an engineer and I am well acquainted with entropy, thermodynamics, and exponential growth. The effects of resource depletion are already here and will only become more obvious over time. Do you follow commodity prices? Do you ever wonder why food, housing and energy are left off of the inflation index? Do you wonder why we are really occupying the Middle East with this so-called "War on Terror"?

    http://crisisofcivilization.com/
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/30 16:52:16
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    I too am an engineer. Imagine that. The beaver on my ring is Nature's engineer. Mens et Manus and all that jazz! ;)

    I imagine commodity prices are going up more as a result of inflation than of shortages. Compare commodities and the relationship isn't changing nearly as much. A man's suit, an ounce of gold, a week's worth of groceries, a basic car, and many more items including commodities like a barrel of oil or a bushel of corn or an ounce of silver all go up together. There is plenty of all of them, but the dollar is losing it's value thanks to manipulation by the FED. It is a good thing we occupied the middle east, since we continue to let OPEC countries screw us and we continue to avoid producing our own resources.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/30 17:03:28
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    +1
    Inflation is inevitable when resources are shrinking and the money supply is increasing or even stable.
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/30 17:30:03
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    Depends how you define inflation. I specifically define it as increasing the money supply with no corresponding increase in backing. In other words, what would be counterfeiting if you and I did it is simply chalked up as inflation when the government does it. When the value of something changes relative to something else, it reflects a change in supply and demand. We have an over supply of paper dollars.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/30 17:44:24
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    +1
    I think we are saying the same thing, when we lose real wealth relative to paper wealth, that is inflation. Resource constraints will be felt as inflation. Supply and demand interact to determine prices.
  • apacheh... Warren ... 2012/04/26 21:07:01
    apachehellfire65
    +2
    AND ITS ALL GOING TO HAPPEN ON dec 21st right?
  • Kiosk Kid Warren ... 2012/04/26 22:57:27 (edited)
    Kiosk Kid
    +1
    Let's try facts on oil.

    “While oil shale is found in many places worldwide, by far the largest deposits in the world are found in the United States in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable; however, even a moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.”

    http://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/...

    Estimates of global deposits range from 2.8 trillion to 3.3 trillion barrels

    Besides Oil shale, we have tar sand oil. We have the largest reserves of coal which can be made into oil, and Natural gas wells also produce liquid that can be made into gasoline.

    In other words, your chart is crap, not factual.
  • Warren ... Kiosk Kid 2012/04/26 23:20:49
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    The chart may or may not be accurate, but the point is that exponential growth will at some point bump up against finite energy resources given enough time. In the last 40 years humans have consumed more energy than in all of prior recorded history. This can't go on much longer.
  • Kiosk Kid Warren ... 2012/04/27 00:36:08
    Kiosk Kid
    +1
    Yes it can go on for at least 100 years.

    Estimates of global deposits range from 2.8 trillion to 3.3 trillion barrels. That is just for oil shale.

    The US only has one problem in producing oil, Liberals.
  • Warren ... Kiosk Kid 2012/04/27 00:55:21
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    You missed the end of the story about oil shale extraction relying on unproven technology. Also, demand is increasing exponential so 100 year forecasts based on current demand is meaningless.
  • Kiosk Kid Warren ... 2012/04/27 02:28:08
    Kiosk Kid
    +1
    No I didn't miss anything. The oil industry is just waiting on Obama to approve the permits. The only hold up is Obama and Liberals.

    Tar sand oil which we have is totally proven. Again companies are only waiting on Obama.

    No, the increase in consumption is factored in. Actually, the US has enough tar sand oil to last 400 years considering only current US Consumption.

    The hold up is Marxist Liberals and their man made global warming hoax.
  • Kane Fernau 2012/04/26 19:41:41
    Kane Fernau
    +1
    He probably made millions like Algore
  • SoCal71 2012/04/26 19:41:41
    SoCal71
    +1
    I'll say this for him he's consistent!
  • Brat 2012/04/26 19:40:42
  • jr 2012/04/26 19:35:20
    jr
    +1
    Just more global warming hyperbole
  • FeedFwd ~POTL 2012/04/26 19:35:17
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    He had a famous bet with Julian Simon, which in typical liberal stereotype, he welshed on. Julian Simon died knowing he was right, but never seeing the payoff on the bet. As long as there is a free market, we will never run out of any resource. It will become too expensive to buy before we run out and human ingenuity will find an affordable alternative.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/26 20:10:05
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    You are right that resources will become far too expensive before they ever run out. But what makes you believe human ingenuity can always find an alternative? Physics and mathematics always trumps economics in the long run.
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/26 20:34:58
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +2
    It is just a belief I hold. I can't prove it. We currently and have always lived in a world of scarcity. We have prospered as a species. We have done that with ingenuity. When being told we can't do something, a black market always appears. If we run out of oil, it will be replaced with something else. When we run out of potable water, we will simply purify non-potable water. It may be expensive, but we will continue to survive and thrive. The black plague couldn't wipe us out during our most dismal period with respect to freedom to employ ingenuity. I am confident we can find ways to survive any shortage we may face in the future within the boundaries of physics.
  • Warren ... FeedFwd... 2012/04/26 23:23:55
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    All of the technical solutions you mention require energy, and a growing economy also requires a growing source of energy. All of your experiences have taken place in the age of cheap fossil fuel energy.
  • FeedFwd... Warren ... 2012/04/27 18:13:43
    FeedFwd ~POTL
    +1
    Yep... I always say, "Better living through chemistry!" We have enough fossil fuels for several lifetimes and virtually unlimited nuclear energy. By the time we see any real energy shortage, we will have figured out how to economically harness solar or some new source. Maybe di-lithium crystals! ;)
  • j2 2012/04/26 19:33:43
    j2
    +3
    The concept of Malthusian populations has a fair amount of validity. I think there's an implicit assumption that there's a closed system that bounds resources. New technology moves the boundaries.

    Malthusian growth could be suggested for a national economy too. When too many parasites are feeding on the hosts, the numbers of hosts will decline followed soon after by the numbers of parasites.

    Malthusian parasite populations
  • Theresa 2012/04/26 19:26:19
    Theresa
    +2
    The man keeps underestimating the possibilities in technology.
  • Will Advocate of PHAET 2012/04/26 19:24:07
    Will Advocate of  PHAET
    +1
    Just another goofball.
  • themadhare ~IJM 2012/04/26 19:13:18
    themadhare ~IJM
    +4
    And it's not just Paul and friends. The UN has institutionalized the hysteria.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/20...
  • lm1b2 2012/04/26 19:02:05
    lm1b2
    +1
    I agree with him far as their being to many of us,the Chinese seem to be the only one doing anything about it,and if the population keeps getting bigger we will be in dire straits for sure.
  • Temlakos~POTL~PWCM~JLA~☆ 2012/04/26 18:49:58
    Temlakos~POTL~PWCM~JLA~☆
    +12
    Add to it that James Lovelock recanted on twenty years of global warming alarmism.

    Paul Ehrlich, his wife, and John Holdren also tri-authored a book in which they proposed poisoning the water so that people couldn't have children.

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