NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 8, 2008

The doom-mongering wing of the environmental movement is burdened by a long history of false prophecies, says David Deming, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

For example:

  • In the mid- to late-1960s, the leading environmental concern was overpopulation; a sober review of the book in the scholarly journal Science characterized the prediction of mass starvation as self-evident, argued that technological solutions were unrealistic, and concluded that catastrophe was unavoidable.
  • By 1980, Paul Ehrlich, also a population alarmist, predicted environmental degradation would wipe out all important animal life in the world's oceans, people would choke to death from air pollution by the hundreds of thousands, and life expectancy in the United States would fall to 42 years.
  • In 1975, the news media informed us that a new Ice Age was imminent.

Better science and more reasonable voices preceded writers like Ehrlich, but were ignored by a media fascinated with frenetic alarmism.  None of the predicted environmental catastrophes actually occurred, says Demming:

  • From 1970 through 2000, the world's population grew from 3.7 billion to 6.1 billion, but the food supply grew faster; it is now also apparent that world population will stabilize at 9 billion to 10 billion around the middle of this century.
  • Since 1970, the six principal air pollutants tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency have fallen significantly, even while U.S. population and energy use have grown.
  • Within 10 years, the imminent calamity of global cooling was replaced by global warming.

Source: David Deming, "Environmental Hysterics," Washington Times, April 6, 2008.


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