Saturday, April 22, 2017

Climate Apocalypse Delayed

True believers will not care. True believers never care when the facts disprove their hypotheses. They imagine that reality is testing their faith, that is, the depth of their conviction.

So, as we continued to be showered with apocalyptic predictions of the calamities that will befall our pathetic little planet, we join American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry in reminiscing about the prophecies of climate calamity made on the first Earth Day, in 1970.

I have selected a few that I find especially edifying. It will teach these prophets and soothsayers not to make predictions that can be falsified by empirical evidence. But, then again, the people who are shrieking loudest over Donald Trump’s tenuous hold on facts have never had any use for facts anyway. 

Ready? Here goes, coming to you from 1970. Keep in mind, if these climate science alarmists were right you would not be reading this anyway. Note that Perry was quoting serious, credentialed scientists, not a bunch of crackpots:

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “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.'”

If you are a true believer you will look at this list and say: Apocalypse delayed. If you think that way you have a very high gullibility quotient.

Otherwise you will reset your sight on reality and, oh yes, on facts.


Ares Olympus said...

"Apocalypse delayed" is actually a very good narrative of how disasters come about.

We can say "necessity is the mother of invention", so civilization sets up "necessity experiments" where the way we did thing in the past no longer scale to the demands of the present, and either something new happens, or we perish.

So after living through a few centuries that process, its easy to believe that the next disaster will also have a solution that necessity will find for us in the nick of time. That "faith" creates a complacency that keeps us in the present, and not worrying about problems that will exist in 10 or 20 or 50 or 100 years, or at least those who do worry are called gloom-and-doomers.

And whenever someone points out some worry, you can cherry-pick bad predictions by other worriers past that never happened.

Yet sometimes prudence makes a difference. Like y2k could have been much worse if we didn't worry about it, and invest in money to make sure systems would continue functioning.

And some 45 years ago we started an experiment of "fiat money" that has helped spur vast economic growth, along with vast growth of debt, and all debt requires interest payments, and interest payments requires a growth of economic activity to pay it back.

And so we are now addicted to a growth in debt, by necessity of our economic system, and many predict this disaster will occur much sooner than the biggest potential climate change disasters. And yet, since debt is "virtual", mere trust-agreements people people, we KNOW the debt problem will be solved by some sort of reset process sooner or later, defaults or hyperinflation or both.

But if we find ourselves in 2050 with 9 billion people, still dependent upon fossil fuels to keep everything going, then we're going to find out the more serious ways climate change can harm us, like perhaps 100s of millions of refugees per year, rather than 10s of millions now, and then maybe we'll become the wall builders to keep out the undesirables.

And unlike money there is no "reset" to climate change. Rather there's a 500 year warming curve merely for no longer doing what our ancestors did. And methane from the melting permafrost can make warming happen much faster than CO2, although it also "burns" off in decades rather than centuries.

So delayed, sure, and necessity will safe us, sure, and its not like we should worry about how our descendants will live when we can still believe 7.5 billion people have the right to try to live like Americans.

Happy Earth day!

Dennis said...