Earth Day predictions of 1970. The reason you shouldn’t believe Earth Day predictions of 2009.

by editor on April 22, 2009

Luckily, we haven't run out of oil, but have exhausted our supply of 70s fashion.

Luckily, we haven't run out of oil, but we have exhausted our supply of 70s fashion.

For the next 24 hours, the media will assault us with tales of imminent disaster that always accompany the annual Earth Day Doom & Gloom Extravaganza.

Ignore them. They’ll be wrong. We’re confident in saying that because they’ve always been wrong. And always will be.

Need proof? Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

“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.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“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, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“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.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.

Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.

“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.”
• Martin Litton, Sierra Club director

“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.’”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
• Sen. Gaylord Nelson

“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, Ecologist

Keep these predictions in mind when you hear the same predictions made today. They’ve been making the same predictions for 39 years. And they’re going to continue making them until…well…forever.

Here we are, 39 years later and the economy sucks, but the ecology’s fine. In fact this planet is doing a lot better than the planet on which those green lunatics live.

You’ll also enjoy (or hate) our article, 25 Global Warming Debunking Videos Al Gore Doesn’t Want You To See.

Update: Earth Day 2010 version.


{ 180 comments… read them below or add one }

wes in MT May 25, 2010 at 6:56 am

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Did either of you guys bother to read the Heartland Institute link?????
There are many scientists who have a problem with the AGW research and all that has surrounded it. You two seem to be in pursuit of truth, but you mischaracterize me by dismissing me as be closed minded and only concerned with the political aspect. And yes, I do believe that there is a conspiracy of sorts. If the government entities wanting a desired result don’t get it, then the funding will dry up. As for the vaunted “peer review” process, that too has been shown to have been used to silence dissent. Despots the world over have in the past corrupted real scientific research to cover their power grabs in some sort of legitimacy, why is it not plausible now?????
As far as not liking the solutions or the computer modelling, well, remember, garbage in, garbage out. Sometimes, the best solution is to acknowledge that you can’t change it so the best course is to adapt. And another thing, nearly every one of these environmentalists cited or poked fun of in the original article, when pressed, come out with the fact that humans are the problem and that there should be less humans. The real difference here is not one of “science and the unscientific” but of world views and who should be deciding our fate: individuals or the collective, ruled by the educated elite. And yes, I say that mockingly because some of the dumbest, most obtuse, lacking in practical, common sense people that I have met (never mind arrogant) have been those that think that they know better than anyone else about anything because “they” have the right education. Hope that’s not you two.
My “main problem” with the proposed solutions is this: They are not going to solve anything. They will in fact increase human misery. For example, What real benefit did the banning of DDT accomplish, other than the millions of deaths of black africans from malaria??? And that is just one example of the unintended consequence of some of the enviro-lefts actions – or are they intentional??

Matt May 26, 2010 at 7:30 am

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wes in MT May 26, 2010 at 9:36 am

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Thanks for responding and for reading the Heartland article. You are exactly right, I am skeptical of most of what I read. I think that as people we tend to give more credence to what supports our biases, myself included. What I have a hard time with is claims that contradict what I know to be true, that’s why the skepticism about the CO2 level claims. For example, I remember being taught when studying the arctic ecosystem as a student in Canada that the polar bear can swim something like 300 miles in open water. So when they tell us that the polar bear is endangered even though the numbers are up in every region but one, I find the claims of endangerment hard to believe, especially when linked to what might happen. has alot of interesting stuff. I find it hard to trust temperature data when it comes to light the a vast majority of the sites are out of spec. And the russians say that their data was cherry picked to reflect a warming trend, with the more rural stations being ignored because those results didn’t fit the template. I agree with you, we need to be skeptical,
of both sides. And we need to be thinking.
I guess the biggest problem I have is when the solution proposed is higher taxes and more regulation. I do not see how that will help anything. Also, this fear of a “tipping point”, you mentioned in an earlier post that the hardest thing to account for in the modelling are some of the feedbacks such as solar, water vapor (in it’s various forms) and others that do not follow set rules ( I hope I haven’t mischaracterized your position – maybe i mentioned these variables)
What about warmer oceans releasing CO2? or as they cool, they absorb more CO2? We do know that levels were much much higher in the past, with no run away effect, in fact we do know that there have been periods with much cooler temperatures than today or the 1970′s when the fear was a coming ice age, do you remember that time? That is why I’m skeptical of today’s AGW movement.
Nevermind the cast of characters who are pushing it. Given the likes of Al Gore, M. Gorebachev, wouldn’t you be a little skeptical of the veracity of the claims and the fear mongering? I rather like Christopher Monkton’s view on alot of this. BTW, we are not talking about surgeons and specialties, but a very young field of science that has recently been exposed to have done exactly what you would call a conspiracy, neatly revealed in the emails from CRU.
Sometimes when your gut tells you something just isn’t right, something isn’t right and needs to be pursued. Are you aware that the exposure of Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph was revealed not by a climate scientist, but by a mathematicion who just couldn’t see it adding up so he looked at the data?
Gee, they lost the raw data. . . . how could that be ? A little bit of transparency would go a long way.

SCDiver May 26, 2010 at 10:06 am

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That’s some crazy weather they’re having in Utah. Set a record for the latest snowfall….

I’m glad the tomatoes are safe, though :)

Matt May 26, 2010 at 6:20 pm

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Hey Wes,

Being skeptical means being careful about your sources. As I’ve said, many of the sources that you site are very sloppy and provide misleading or incorrect information. Being skeptical also means being suspicious of “what you know to be true”. We all have gut feelings about things. In many contexts this gut is extremely useful and important. But, as a scientist one learns that there are all kinds of fallacies and mistakes that gut thinking can make when applied to complex problems.

We are talking about surgeons here. And, you overstate the youth of the field in general Most of the essential tools and principles involved in climate science are as old as most of *modern* medicine. The statistical techniques, mathematical tools, analysis methodology are over a century old. The thermodynamics is closer to two centuries old, as is the chemistry. What is new are the advanced tools for measuring global climate systems and reconstructing paleo-climate, and some of the non-linear dynamics (which are about 20-30 years old), and the advanced computational power (~15 years old). The fact is, all science is young because with the exponential rate of progress, most of the game changing advances happened in this century.

More relevant to my point about “brain surgeons” is that climate science is a difficult and technical subject, and requires a great deal of learning and science literacy to begin to understand. It is not something that anyone can just make bold proclamations about based on superficial knowledge and thinking. I am not saying it is inaccessible, or that you have to just “trust” some scientific elite. I’m just saying you need to really read about the basics and build an understanding of the fundamentals before you can start making armchair proclamations.

I recommend that rather than listen to ambiguously sponsored and staffed blogs like and special interest groups, you should go directly to the experts. I am including even the skeptical scientists who spoke at the Heartland event who are actual PhD experts (like Lindzen, for example). I am not including Lord Monckton, who has no scientific education (only a bachelors in classics), regularly gets the science wrong, and who’s presence at events like the Heartland one as an “expert”, baffles my mind.

Listen to actual scientists and listen to *both* sides. That’s at least a start.

The narratives you are repeating about the Mann’s hockeystick, about the reliability of temperature measurements, and the “climate gate” emails is straight out of the conservative rumor mill and easily falsifiable. The 70′s “ice age” rumor is based on a few popular media articles from the 70′s, while a majority of the scientific literature of the 70′s endorsed global warming.

The irony about the handful of cherry-picked climate-gate emails is that, if you just read a little further, you see a very different picture. Michael Mann’s “Nature trick” was published in Nature. It’s a pretty bad conspiracy if you’re publishing your insidious tricks in one of the most widely circulated scientific periodicals. Another email with the famous “we just don’t know” quote, included a link to an article where the author published his skepticism publicly. And the deleted data you are referring to is not the *raw* data. That data was and is still publicly available. The deleted data was the local copy used in the analysis. What fascinated me about the whole email thing, was the unprecedented level of transparency being demanded. In the early 90′s, when the whole freedom of information thing came to the fore, these guys did a sloppy job. Nowadays, not only are things all the more transparent, but they are also easily accessible.

You will hardly find another discipline as transparent as the hard sciences generally are.

avdefender June 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

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I came from the day of these predictions. I saw and, halfway believed, Soylent Green. I thought “The Omega Man” (the ’70′s version of “I Am Legend”) was prophetic in my teenage ignorance. I was convinced that we’d be eating sea plankton by the 1990′s.
Then, I grew up. Something that the environmentalist nazis have failed to do.

What really convinced me of the fallacy of the doom and gloom was when the Iraqi army set the oil fields of Kuwait on fire during Desert Storm and we were warned in apocalyptic terms of how the smoke from the fires would pollute the earth much in the same way that a nuclear winter would. It looked like the world would surely end in a new ice age! We were done for.
Then I saw the pictures taken from the space shuttle of these massive smoke plumes that were going to block the suns rays for a thousand years. The plumes were little strips of mist in comparison to the mass of the earth! Common sense showed that there was no way that these little plumes would hurt anything more than the locals in the desert. You know, the camels and lizards that roamed that small strip of desert. One thing even the casual observer would conclude is that this smoke and oil wasn’t going to cause a new ice age. The environmentalist cry babies were wrong! As I looked into it more, they were wrong the better part of 99% of the time.

So, they can live in an under cooled house and walk instead of drive, and use light bulbs with the poisonous metal mercury, and all the other funny things they do to “save” the environment.
Me, I’ll trust the God Who created this wonderful world and also trust Him to be the caretaker of His creation. I’m very convinced that there is nothing that man can do to harm the ecology of the earth that he didn’t create. The earth has its own renewal mechanism built by God that would take only supernatural forces beyond the reach of mankind to alter her.

The environmentalist wackos give themselves too much credit. In the great scheme of things, man who can barely squeak out 80 or 90 years of life thinks that he can harm a planet that has been built for the eons.
“…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” The Apostle Paul, in a letter to the Romans, A.D. 60.

Richard Wicks June 29, 2010 at 5:04 pm

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editor June 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm

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You might try to find an IMAX documentary called “Fires of Kuwait.” It’s the story of how Red Adair and an international tea put out all the fires in a matter of months after we were told they would burn for years and that it would be the worst environmental disaster in history. Here’s a link on IMDB:

thatguy June 29, 2010 at 9:24 pm

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Red Adair, now THAT was a man!
I bet he could have fixed the gusher in the Gulf in 2 days if being dead had not get in the way. We might have had to set it on fire first, but at this point it would be worth it.

Morior Invictus June 13, 2011 at 7:51 am

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You are wrong. When the fields were set afire, the media was painting gloom and doom on the nightly programs. Claims of global disasters, unprecidented damage to the environment, years before the Earth can survive. on and on and on. In reality, nothing happened and the Earth still spins.

Bill Wilbanks October 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

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It’s true it was the networks that was spouting the doom and gloom about the burning oilfields, but they were quoting so called experts in those reports.

RockingHorseGuy June 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

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“I was in college at the time of the first Iraq war.”

“There were no predictions of an environmental catastrophe as a result of the burning of the oil fields in the liberal media.”

You must have had access to some really good weed in college, Richard. Because you weren’t even on this planet if you never heard predictions of environmental catastrophe from the oilfield fires.

dclark April 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm
Matt July 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm

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Last time I checked, Omega Man and Soylent Green are not reputable scientific journals. I again agree that no one should base important policy decisions on media sensationalization. But, I do think we should be taking a sober look at the science. Please do. Movies, cable, and news are not sources of reliable info on climate science. When they get things embarrassingly wrong, that doesn’t mean you can ignore the science. The science is wrong sometimes too, but it’s the best tool we have. It’s certainly better than speculation and shooting-from-the-hip of the kind you are demonstrating.

As far as your claim that you trust in God to be the “caretaker of His creation”, you represent a divergent theology than my own. Last I checked, humans were given free will. In the Bible, “the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15), “The heavens are the Lords, but the earth belongs to the children of man” (Psalms 115:16). We have a God given responsibility to take care of the world we were given. The bible usually imbues us with responsibility, not absolve us from it.

Kip Hooker June 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm

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I was in seventh grade at the time of the first Iraq War. This was in the infancy of the slap bracelet phase. I cannot attest to the quality of NPR from that time period.

There were many predictions of an environment catastrophe as a result of the burning oil fields. They also told us that the rigs would be on fire for years and years and years. My teachers were in complete agreement. They added that by the time I was 25 all the rain forests would be gone, all the fish would be dead in the ocean and that global warming would have killed most of us. I think they might have been wrong on one or two of those points.

I also used to watch Saved by the Bell and Inside Edition just as religiously and you’re just making crap up. Also Bill O’Reilly was as big a douche back then as he is now.

Kathy June 30, 2010 at 12:21 am

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I am not a scientist (never even played one on t.v.), but I have many problems with the way this science is being handled. I think most people do. The second science became political, it ceased to be science. My biggest problem is the attempt to silence any debate. Any scientist knows that debate and pier review are essencial to the scientific method.

We know from the climate-gate scandal that some fudging of numbers were going on. We also know that they made a conserted effort to quiet any disenting voices. We know that the “scientist” refused to share their raw data for pier review, and that the got rid of data that did not agree with their conclusions. We also know that other scientists used the data they published to get their results, sometimes without looking at raw data. NASA I know has admitted that their temp. data is worthless. Combine this with over 1/3 of the temp stations checked have been shown to be located in such places and ways that the sata from them is unreliable at best, and that temps in some remote locations near the poles were “estimated”. Now we throw in the ice caps that are returning to normal size, and islands that are either staying the same or growing..not sinking from the rising waters. And how about those computer models which may not have taken into account such variables as El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, etc. They are basicly saying that that the temps are rising and since we cannot find another must be man. Even I know that this is flawed reasoning.

Lets get the politics out of science, lets get some honest open debate going and stop berating those who disagree. Lets get all raw data out in the open and see what happens. Untill then…I for one, am not willing to lose my way of life in order to “share the wealth” and spread a political agenda.

Matt July 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

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Kathy,Please, please, please fact check what you are saying.

As a rule of thumb, anything that you can say that starts with “even I know…”, then probably the PhD physicists who have spent decades studying the stuff have thought of it as well. I have certainly found this to be the case. Ironically, in your list of “El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation…”, you named phenomena that were observed and named by the very people who you suggest are neglecting these variables. I’ve said it before on this thread and I’ll say it again. The models *are* taking this stuff into account ( You are listening to false claims being made by ignoramuses, who love to suggest that climate scientists are missing obvious things. In short you are being fed lies, and you’re buying it.

Your claim about temperature data is likewise misinformed. Even the strongest skeptics in the field acknowledge that there has been a statistically significant temperature increase. The reliability of weather station data is a stupid argument made by people trying to confound the issue. First of all, the credibility of the weather stations has been dealt with thoroughly over the last 40 years. Many tests were conducted, where countless weather stations were included or excluded from the reconstructions on the basis of their reliability…with little change in the resulting trend ( You are also ignoring sea based measurements, ocean temperature, and countless satellite measurements. All of these data tell the same story. NASA has made no claims that their data are junk Please, try to find a source for that. It would be pretty huge if it were true.

Your understanding of the “climate-gate” emails is way off base. Please read any one of the many independent reviews that happened in the wake of “climate-gate” (for example There was no “fudging” of numbers, as you claim. The infamous “Nature Trick” was called a “Nature Trick” because is was published in Nature, one of the most circulated science periodicals. Not only is the raw data not hidden or ignored, it is all readily available in its entirety on the web. The emailers spoke about not wanting to included a paper in the IPCC, not because they didnn’t like the conclusions, but because they thought the science is bad. And the kicker is, the paper (Soon, Balliunis, et al) *was* included. The conclusion gleaned by most of the reviews was that the scientists were transparent in the peer literature but not open enough with the public. That was true a few years ago, but not now. All of the temp data is accessible now.

This claim about scientists stifling debate is garbage from people who can’t otherwise argue the science with good science. People don’t “debate” science like some sort of political forum. They present data and theory in peer reviewed journals. If you look at the history of peer reviewed literature over the last 30 years, there *has* been an intense debate among scientists. Any claim that there hasn’t been a debate is rubbish. Name any legit PhD climate scientists who is skeptical of AGW (like Lindsen or Chrisity), and I can show you countless of publications that are thoroughly discussed by the community. Particularly in the last 10 years, a lot of contentious points have been settled and there is a lot more agreement now than there was in the 90′s. There are still unanswered questions and doubts, but not on the level you are claiming.

Now to your legitimate concern: Climate science has BIG political and economic implications. The science is not perfect, nor are the scientists. The clouding of science by politics is something we need to be diligent about, all the more so these days. However, this diligence needs to be well informed and science literate, not based on the kinds of heresay and half truths that you seem keen to repeat. The science of climate change is not perfect, but it’s not junk. It’s compelling enough to convince a lot of scientists who care more about the science than the politics, and that’s saying something.

referencement internet October 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

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Bob E January 4, 2011 at 12:42 am

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Ok, another year later and…
Jan 6, 2010
Associated Press
North Carolina Fish Kill Grows Deadlier as State Ponders Action
Thousands of Speckled Trout and Other Fish Killed by Freezing Waters

August 12, 2010
NBC Philadelphia reports that tens of thousands of dead menhaden fish washed ashore Wednesday on a New Jersey beach along Delaware Bay.

The incident is strikingly similar to an occurrence from Monday, when thousands of dead menhaden also washed ashore over 200 miles away in Fairhaven, MA (see video HERE).

N.J. Department of Environmental Protection officials say initial tests show no signs of toxic phytoplankton, like red tide, in the water, and they are still examining oxygen levels. Fisheries in Massachusetts alleged low oxygen from warm waters was the cause of the mass kill in Fairhaven, according to CNN.

January 2, 2011
First Birds Fall, Now 100,000 Fish Dead in Arkansas

Thousands of dead fish have turned up in an Arkansas river just days after 3,000 birds mysteriously dropped dead from the sky, but authorities say the deaths are not related.

An estimated 100,000 dead drum fish are floating along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River and washing up on the river’s banks near the town of Ozark in the northwestern part of the state.

Strangest of all, seagulls aren’t going near what would normally appear to be a free lunch for the area’s birds

Next – ??? Watch for the skys turning crimson

Kyle Donohoo May 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

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If these predictions are incorrect then I will make them correct. I swear on the… Bibal. I hate the Earth and I will pollute as much as I can. I swear again and again on the BIBAL TO DESTROY EARTH.

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