People who reached adulthood in the 1960s were greeted with the growing notion that a “population explosion” would wreak havoc upon civilization. In his 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” Paul R. Erlich predicted that:
In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.
CBS television produced a special program based on his writing to scare the pants off an unsuspecting generation. The media jumped on this new, “enlightened,” progressive revelation by this Stanford University butterfly expert, and for years, nations set out to prevent this certain disaster.
It didn’t happen, of course. In fact, throughout the world, population is either declining or stable. Only in the poorest parts of the world is population increasing.
When people refused to fall dead of starvation in the streets of New York, as Erlich had predicted, another catastrophe was created: a new “ice age.” This same Paul R. Erlich predicted that the man-made increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide would “… keep the energy of the sun from warming the Earth in the first place.”
Newsweek picked up the story. The article claimed that scientists were “almost universal” in their agreement that global cooling would result in devastating crop losses. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Murray Mitchell reported a half-degree decline in ground temperature between 1945 and 1968. Other media joined the parade and convinced a generation that human activity would result in a new period of glaciation.
It didn’t happen, of course. Paul Erlich, and many of the same scientists who predicted a coming “ice age” have now joined the bandwagon that is predicting another imagined catastrophe: global warming. Another Stanford professor, Stephen Schneider, who was first an advocate for global cooling, flip-flopped and now is a proponent of global warming. His statements about global warming to Discover magazine (pp. 45-48, Oct. 1989) are quite revealing:
… [W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.
Schneider admits what many people have long suspected: there’s more to the motive of these doomsayers than meets the eye – or the scientific evidence.
The population explosion myth and the global cooling myth came and went. But the global warming myth lingers and lingers. Why?
The major difference between the current, lingering global warming hysteria and the other predictions of catastrophe is the United Nations. The U.N. didn’t fully recognize the value of the environment as a funding source until the 1972 Conference on the Environment held in Stockholm, headed by Maurice Strong. By the time global cooling shifted to global warming, the U.N. had created the United Nations Environment Program, and international treaties on wetlands and on endangered species. Global warming was an idea that promised unlimited funds.
The 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change and the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change became the global institutions for the collection and redistribution of money. With this money came power, the power to propagandize. Using the IPCC as the perceived “last word” in science, the political arm of the U.N.’s global warming push has churned out tons of global warming propaganda, labeled as “official” scientific findings. In truth, the IPCC’s Executive Reports use just enough science to flavor their projections and, following Stephen Schneider’s advice, “ignore any doubts” that participating scientists may have.
Younger people, who did not live through the rise and fall of previous predictions of catastrophe, can be forgiven for not seeing through the current rash of global warming hype. Gray-headed folks have no excuse and should provide leadership to the less experienced.
Politicians and scientists, even those who know better, see the current global warming scenario as a funding source and are not about to bite the hand that feeds them.
One most interesting observation is this: The university professors, the scientists and the politicians who have historically advanced these mythical catastrophic scenarios are folks who have never lived in the real world. They refuse to acknowledge that real people who deal every day with real problems create ways to master them. It seems way beyond their comprehension to realize that a free market is far more responsive to changing conditions than are government policies.
Everyone beyond the ninth grade knows that the climate is changing – as it has done throughout the history of the world. Chances are quite good that the climate will continue to change, regardless of the policies of the U.N., Washington, or of any state.
The real catastrophe is not global warming, but the fact that governments continue to waste billions of dollars brainwashing and frightening yet another generation. These people will, one day, look back and laugh, much the way we laugh at Paul Erlich’s prediction that population growth would cause people to die of starvation in the streets of American cities by the 1980s, and the 1970s hysteria about the coming “ice age.”
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