Friday, April 25, 2008

Environmental Horror Stories: Before Global Warming, There was The Population Bomb

"The Population Bomb" was the "Global Warming" of 1968.

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s 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..."
--Paul Ehrlick, The Population Bomb (1968)

Try this one on for an environmental doomsday scenario: a disaster of epic proportions is threatening Earth. It is man made in nature. In ten years--ten years!--life as we know it will be radically changed for the worst. And if mankind doesn't do something right now, it will be too late later.

Oh, and how do we know that the disaster is big, bad and scary?

A scientific consensus has developed which supports it. Scientists are scared, so everyone else better be prepared to hunker down for doom, too.

Global warming? Nope.

Try "the population explosion". The year was 1968 and the World Wide Web was still over 20 years away in the future. That's when Paul Ehrlich released his best-seller, "The Population Bomb", and seemingly overnight, population control was all the rage.

Americans were peppered with stories of global doom, in a world stripped of food and resources by an exploding, out-of-control population.

The prescription? Be responsible! Quit having children! Better yet: put the government be in charge of how many children a woman can have.
The Population Bomb (1968) is a book written by Paul R. Ehrlich. A best-selling work, it predicted disaster for humanity due to overpopulation and the "population explosion". The book predicted that "in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death", that nothing can be done to avoid mass famine greater than any in the history, and radical action is needed to limit the overpopulation.

Ehrlich wanted government action and he wanted it now--before the earth reached the point of no-return. As with all environmentalists, the instrument of Mother Earth's destruction would be humans living their lives.

To radical environmentalists, or socialists masquerading as environmentalists, it's always the same equation: Humans are the root of all evil.
The Population Bomb became one of the best-selling environmental books of all time. Its main message was that continued population growth would place tremendous stress on natural resources and the environment. He predicted that, as a result, society would face war, famine, pestilence, and general calamity. Ehrlich asserted that only drastic governmental measures could curtail the impending disaster. He suggested a national Department of Population and Environment to police population growth and, in some instances, order mandatory sterilization. He expressed strong opposition to the antiabortion doctrines of the Catholic Church and the profit motive and aggressive consumption of the free enterprise economic system.

National Department of Population? A population czar? Mandatory, government measures? Radical government takeover of what had previously been private decisions?

Beginning to sound familiar?

It should--if the reader has been following the suggestions of the global warming crowd.

Ehrlich and his supporters insist that his predictions came true, but that the effects of his predictions go largely unnoticed because world food production exploded faster than the population.

That spin is partially true: Norman Borlaug's "Green Revolution" in the 1960s dud push food per capita to the highest levels in the history of mankind. But what Ehrlich and the rest of his scientific consensus don't say is that birth rates in much of the world have fallen off dramatically.

Birth rates have fallen so far so fast that parts of the world, particularly Europe and Japan are experiencing "baby busts" that no country has ever recovered from previously.

Today about half the world lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility. That is, births are not equaling deaths and migration, so the country will lose population in the future.

Instead of the famines and scarcity predicted by Ehrlich, we have most European countries offering incentives--cash and otherwise--for women to have babies.

124 countries (of 223) are below replacement rate fertility (commonly 2.1 per woman). Two are at 2.1: the United States and Domenica. In developing countries, the replacement rate may be as high as 4+/woman, due to high infant mortality and other factors. It's now predicted that the human population will actually decline within the next 40 years if present fertility trends continue.

In fact, it is a world totally unforeseen by Paul Ehrlich and the fifty-eight academies of science who agreed that the "population explosion" was on a collision course with planet Earth.

As recently as 1994, the worry was still the population explosion, long after serious study would have thrown doubt on the scare-mongers.
In Ehrlich's books, many predictions are made, for example, The Population Bomb begins "[t]he battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death," while in "The End of Affluence", Ehrlich stated, "One general prediction can be made with confidence: the cost of feeding yourself and your family will continue to increase. There may be minor fluctuations in food prices, but the overall trend will be up". According to Ehrlich, the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 years by 1980 because of pesticide usage, and the nation's population would drop to 22.6 million by 1999.

On similarity between the "population explosion" and the "global warming" prophets stand out: neither Al Gore nor Paul Ehrlich were specialists in their field of prognostication. Before Ehrlich began his population predictions, he was best known as a renowned entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies).

Before Al Gore began his global warming predictions, he too was best known in another, completely different field. At least Ehrlich's field was in science.

Gore, et. al. will have a good guide how to spin "global warming" if the earth doesn't explode into 20-foot water wave of burning disaster: Ehrlich's been spinning his wildly-wrong predictions for the last several decades and shows no signs of recanting.
When I wrote The Population Bomb in 1968, there were 3.5 billion people. Since then we've added another 2.8 billion — many more than the total population (2 billion) when I was born in 1932. If that's not a population explosion, what is? My basic claims (and those of the many scientific colleagues who reviewed my work) were that population growth was a major problem. Fifty-eight academies of science said that same thing in 1994, as did the world scientists' warning to humanity in the same year.

How many scientific academies have lined up behind Global Warming?

Who was behind the Population Bomb? Try the well-known environmental group, Sierra Club.
The Population Bomb was written at the suggestion of David Brower, at the time the executive director of the environmentalist Sierra Club, following an article Ehrlich wrote for the New Scientist magazine in December, 1967. In that article, Ehrlich predicted that the world would experience famines sometime between 1970 and 1985 due to population growth outstripping resources. Amongst other remarks, Ehrlich also stated that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980," and "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks that India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971." These predictions did not come to pass. In the book's 1971 edition, the latter prediction had been removed.

Ehrlich, unlike Gore, took on his leading detractors, putting his money where his mouth was--and it cost him.
The leading critic of Ehrlich was Julian Lincoln Simon, a libertarian theorist and the author of the book The Ultimate Resource, a book which argues a larger population is a benefit, not a cost. To test their two contrasting views on resources, in 1980, Ehrlich and Simon entered into a wager over how the price of metals would move during the 1980s. Ehrlich predicted that the price would increase as metals became more scarce in the Earth's crust, while Simon insisted the price of metals had fallen throughout human history and would continue to do so. Ehrlich lost the bet. Indeed such was the decline in the price of the five metals Ehrlich selected, Simon would have won even without taking inflation into account

The U.S., thankfully is alone among the industrialized nations when it comes to population. America is the only country not facing population implosion. In Europe, this fertility collapse has led to a mad rush for bodies--any and all workers, regardless of background, country of origin or support for their host country's ideology--to support aging, native populations.

While almost all of the developed world, and many other nations, have seen plummeting fertility rates over the last twenty years, the United States' rates have remained stable and even slightly increased. This is partly due to the high fertility rate among communities such as Hispanics, but it is also because the fertility rate among non-Hispanic whites in the US, after falling to about 1.6 in the 1970s and early 1980s, had increased and is now around 1.9, or slightly below replacement level, rather than collapsing to the 1.3-1.5 level common in Europe.

The one part of the United States that is most European in birth rates is also the most European in political outlook: the reliably blue New England states.
New England has a rate similar to most Western European countries, while the South, Midwest, and border states have fertility rates considerably higher than replacement.

The country with the highest fertility rate in the developed world?

Israel, with a rate of 2.84 children per woman.

An environmental scare which is:
1- caused by humans;
2- going to cause mass destruction of life as we know it;
3- going to occur in the very near future;
4- requires massive intervention by the government into personal choices and lives; and,
5- based on just enough science that it sounds plausible to the press, government officials and the portion of the population that believes government is a solution to such mega-problems.
6- fronted by a man who rode to fame on the publicity the problem generated--and who profited from its growing acceptance.

The Population Bomb was just a trial run for Global Warming.

And if enough people wake up, Global Warming will just be a trial run for the "Next Big Environmental Doomsday Story".

by Mondoreb
* Hoover Institute
* telegraph
* The Population Bomb
* Sub-Replacement Fertility
* Paul Ehrlich

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