Thursday, November 09, 2006

Doom, gloom and fume

A while back I was challenged to post anything showing that there were man-hating environmentalists about in the mainstream of environmental thought. So I did. [See this post: 'QUOTE: "The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable, but a good thing..."']

Today I figured readers might like to see some, just some, of the fatuous environmental predictions made by worry-worts and misanthropic headline-hunting doomsayers.

  • Britain's industrial growth will come to a halt because its coal reserves are running out “… it is useless to think of substituting any other kind of fuel for coal... some day our coal seams [may] be found emptied to the bottom, and swept clean like a coal-cellar. Our fires and furnaces ... suddenly extinguished, and cold and darkness ... left to reign over a depopulated country."
    --Economist William Stanley Jevons, writing in 1865
  • 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, a professor at
    North Texas State University. Spring 1970 issue of ‘The Living Wilderness.’
  • …some scientists estimate that the world's known supplies of oil, tin, copper, and aluminium will be used up within your lifetime.
    --1990s school textbook The United States and Its People, quoted by Ronald Bailey in testimony to US House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources,
    Feb 4, 2004
  • The period of global food security is over. As the demand for food continues to press against supply, inevitably real food prices will rise. The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise, but how much.
    --Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, 1981
  • The world's farmers can no longer be counted on to feed the projected additions to the world's population.
    -- Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, State of the World Report, 1994
  • The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population.
    —Reid Bryson, “Global Ecology;
    Readings towards a rational strategy for Man”, (1971)
  • The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.
    —Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb
    (Ballantine Books 1968)
  • I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.
    —Paul Ehrlich in (1969)
  • In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.
    —Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)
  • Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.
    —Paul Ehrlich in (1976)
  • There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production—with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon… The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologist are hard-pressed to keep up with it… This [cooling] trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.
    --Science writer Peter Gwynne writing in ‘The Cooling World,’ ‘Newsweek’ magazine,
    April 28, 1975
  • This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.
    —Lowell Ponte in his book The Cooling, 1976 (which was endorsed by US Senator Claiborne Pell and current Bush adviser on global warming Stephen Schneider)
  • If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. … This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.
    —Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, speaking on Earth Day 1970. Watt is
    Editor in Chief, Encyclopedia of Human Ecology Advisory Board Member, Center for the Study of CO2 and Climate Change
  • Indeed, when we wake up 20 years from now and find that the Atlantic Ocean is just outside Washington, D.C., because the polar icecaps are melting, we may look back at this pivotal election.
    --New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, writing in NY Times,
    Dec 8, 2000.
  • Frostban -- a harmless bacteria genetically engineered to protect plants from freezing temperatures -- "could irreversibly affect worldwide climate and precipitation patterns over a long, long period of time.
    -- Founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeremy Rifkin, 1986
  • The economic impact of BIV (Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus) on the beef and dairy industries is likely to be devastating in the years to come.
    --Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef 1992
  • Biotech crops will "run amok"; they will create "super bugs"; they will lead to farmers using "greater quantities of herbicides."
    --Jeremy Rifkin, 1999
    Boston Globe
  • The use of biotechnology might "risk a fatal interruption of millions of years of evolutionary development? Might not the artificial creation of life spell the end of the natural world? ... cause irreversible damage to the biosphere, making genetic pollution an even greater threat to the planet than nuclear or petrochemical pollution?”
    -- Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century 1999
  • Current estimates that a flu pandemic could infect 20% of the world's population and cause 7.5 million deaths are "among the more optimistic predictions of how the next pandemic might unfold.”
    --
    Osterhaus et al. Nature May 2005
  • The next flu pandemic could kill as many as 150 million people.
    --
    Dr. David Nabarro. WHO spokesman Sept 2005.
  • As many as 142 million people around the world could die if bird flu turns into a "worst case" influenza pandemic and global economic losses could run to $4.4 trillion - the equivalent of wiping out the entire Japanese economy for a year.
    --
    Report entitled Global Macroeconomic Consequences of Pandemic Influenza, from the Lowy Institute in Australia. Feb 2006.
UPDATE: If you've read this and asked yourself, "Where's the misanthropy?" as some commenters have, you might like to now read (or re-read) the post linked above, which is a differently focussed list of related quotes: <'QUOTE: "The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable, but a good thing..."'
RELATED: <Environment, Conservation, Ethics, Quotes

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28 Comments:

Anonymous Hamish said...

"...misanthropic headline-hunting doomsayers"

That's a bit rich after your NCEA post today.

11/09/2006 01:04:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Perhaps you misunderstand the point of this post, Hamish.

I've posted here doomsaying that was both WRONG and MISANTHROPIC.

My post on the NCEA by contrast is posted as another signpost on the road to showing how disastrous the NCE really is, and how destructive to young minds. In other words, following several years of argument on this score, I was posting to who that those predictions were right, and that any misanthropy is on the part of NCEA advocates.

11/09/2006 01:17:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Awfully clever PC. We can all cherry-pick statements throughout history that, added up, give the general effect we seek to project. The original challenge was to provide evidence that the environmental mainstream was motivated by the precepts of 'deep ecology'.

Not to show that people say extreme things that sound silly, and have a laugh.

DenMT

11/09/2006 01:48:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Compared to all that, the Dems in control might not be so bad. Thanks for cheering me up!

11/09/2006 02:27:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

denmt, what is more environmental mainstream than quoting text books and books sold by the millions?

It's not that pc quoted from frog blog here.

11/09/2006 02:28:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

The quote from a text book was 'some scientists say estimate that the world's known supplies of oil, tin, copper and aluminium will be used up within your lifetime' which sounds alarmist, certainly, but without context is harmless. The majority of these quotes are pretty damn old, and very few of them allude to the deep ecology mindset that PC is so worried by.

I had almost forgotten about this, but fair enough: if you have time and inclination PC, how about finding something to back up your theory that modern-day environmentalism is simply a veneered 'deep ecology'? As a self-proclaimed environmentalist, with plenty of other self-proclaimed environmentalist peers, I am perplexed...

Environmental advocacy is one thing - 'deep ecology' is a convenient moniker used with clear pejorative intent, and meant to discredit people that value the natural environment - who don't necessarily value the ecosphere over humanity, but simply recognise that is HAS value.

I know that you will never recognise intrinsic value in nature PC, and we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one. But to tar all environmentalists with such a broad and clumsy stroke is uncalled for.

DenMT

11/09/2006 03:02:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"We can all cherry-pick statements throughout history that, added up, give the general effect we seek to project."

Den, you're beginning to look like a Creationist refusing to countenance the fossil evidence for evolution. "Ah," they say as the fossil evidence keeps piling up, "but you haven't yet got enough evidence to shake my faith..."

11/09/2006 03:05:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Den, I thought you'd conceded the point long ago, way back when those other quotes were first posted, but if you're happy to concede that you and your fellow environmentalists at least don't wish to place human beings below slugs, rocks and mud puddles in the value scale, then I'm happy to admit that not all environmentalism is anti-human.

As I have. Often.

The perfect summation for me of the correct relationship between man and nature is Frank Lloyd Wright's identification of architecture as "that great inclusive agency by which mankind makes human life more natural and nature more humane."

Can we agree on that much?

11/09/2006 03:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Den, these proclamations were doubtless taken seriously by people in the past. You can imagine the suitably concerned expressions on the faces of those former news anchors. The end of the world is nigh! Shit! Better regulate!

Presently, Kate Hawkesby, John Campbell & co do exactly the same night after night. Language like 'could', 'perhaps' and 'might' in relation to doomsday is in plentifully sensationalist supply.

And you guys buy it all.

11/09/2006 04:20:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

I suspect the truth lies (obviously) not in the supposed "misanthropic ... doomsayers" claims nor PC's seemingly equally vitriolic misanthropic response (no matter how wrong such claims might have turned out, I doubt very much that misanthropy was the motivating factor), but somewhere in the middle.

The reductio of the theory of endless substitution which by inference is the typical position of those in disagreement of the "misanthropists" is that eventually "technology (or some other equally mystical force) will provide" infinite resources for free. (man I can't wait for that day)

It's tempting to assume, given the advances of science and technology over the previous century or so, that technology will (and can) solve all our problems.

This ignores the point that there indeed exists a set of unsolvable problems. The most important and obvious of course being that on a finite planet - exponential population growth is ultimately unsustainable.

11/09/2006 05:08:00 pm  
Anonymous michael fasher said...

Finite planet sure but the consevation of matter and energy principle comes into play,mass energy is never made nor destroyed,just changes into different arrangement of atoms.All the metal ever mined still exists.
Sea water alone contains over fifty different elements,including almost all the metals,in the future you may extract copper for example out of sea water.Another term that comes to mind is finite but unbounded ,a good example of something finite but unbounded is the earths spherical shape you can go round and round forever and never fall of the edge of the earth well thats kinda like the situation with resourse extraction,but enviromentalist flat earthers think that we will all collectively fall off the edge and run out of gas,iron, copper or whatever.
Recources dont actualy exist as recources at all without the minds capability to conceave of a use and method of extraction for an inanimate object.

11/09/2006 07:22:00 pm  
Anonymous michael fasher said...

Finite planet sure but the consevation of matter and energy principle comes into play,mass energy is never made nor destroyed,just changes into different arrangement of atoms.All the metal ever mined still exists.
Sea water alone contains over fifty different elements,including almost all the metals,in the future you may extract copper for example out of sea water.Another term that comes to mind is finite but unbounded ,a good example of something finite but unbounded is the earths spherical shape you can go round and round forever and never fall of the edge of the earth well thats kinda like the situation with resourse extraction,but enviromentalist flat earthers think that we will all collectively fall off the edge and run out of gas,iron, copper or whatever.
Recources dont actualy exist as recources at all without the minds capability to conceave of a use and method of extraction for an inanimate object.

11/09/2006 07:22:00 pm  
Blogger sushil yadav said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/09/2006 08:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

sushil yadav said...
[... blah, blah, blah, blah, ...]

PC, I thought that any poster here have to authenticate him/herself by typing the warped image text to avoid the 'SpamBots' posting spam messages, by auto-authentication. It looks like you have been hit by a spambot.

11/09/2006 09:29:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

fossil evidence, yeah right. Shall I pile up the quotes from evolutionists having serious doubt about that fossil evidence pc?

11/09/2006 09:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

sushil yadav said...
[Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.]

Why the f*ck you're using the internet (something pertains ONLY to industrialised society) to make post here. I bet you enjoy that things that is developed & invented by industrialised society.

Here is a simple question. Does the internet (which enable you to make post here), destroy your mind?

Why don't you go to Afganistan and live in a cave with Osama Bin Laden and completely extract yourself from making contact with civilization. No TV, no car, no phone, etc, etc, and of course NO fuckin INTERNET to post to.

11/09/2006 09:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Sean said...

Now Class, this is what we call the the Fallacy of the Golden Mean.

Sean.


Steve said...
I suspect the truth lies (obviously) not in the supposed "misanthropic ... doomsayers" claims nor PC's seemingly equally vitriolic misanthropic response (no matter how wrong such claims might have turned out, I doubt very much that misanthropy was the motivating factor), but somewhere in the middle.

11/10/2006 07:18:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

fossil evidence, yeah right. Shall I pile up the quotes from evolutionists having serious doubt about that fossil evidence pc?"

Go for it Berend....and while you are at it please explain those pesky Dinosaur skeletons that keep being dug up all over the show....when in the last "6'000 years " did God sneak those in without us knowing...?

11/10/2006 09:06:00 am  
Blogger Steve said...

Michael Fasher - in some senses you are correct however there is this little problem called entropy.

So far we haven't found much of a useful purpose for the CO2 and heat (for example) that is "conserved matter and energy" that results from burning fossil fuels.

You are right - mined metals etc, don't really disappear. I suspect in years to come we will be mining land fill to reclaim alot of the stuff we wasted over the last 100 years.

I think we are living in the best times ever. I suspect things won't get a lot better - sure iPod will come out with a new model, and we might be able to continue to get more obsese and drive around in big fuck off SUVs for another 10, 20 years if we are lucky.

Enjoy the party while the beer is still flowing.

11/10/2006 10:02:00 am  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

James, need a confirmation from PC that he will my post on the site :-)

As on dinosaurs, I'm not sure what you mean. What's the sneaking? I've always wondered why people in the Middle Ages had pictures of creatures we now clearly identify as dinosaurs.

Obviously if we find a human foot print and a dinosaur foot print together, there is been contamination, because that can't be true.

And isn't it a bit annoying that dinosaur bones smell so strongly after those millions of years of decay? That stretchy tissue has been found in their bones, leading the main researcher to claim she found blood cells. Why not, just been dead for tens of millions of years.

11/10/2006 12:05:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Berend, go right ahead. If they're all as good as your comment here, it should be a laugh-riot:

BEREND: "I've always wondered why people in the Middle Ages had pictures of creatures we now clearly identify as dinosaurs."

:-)

11/10/2006 12:13:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Thanks for the encouragement pc. What's your email or where do I find it so I can email the fossil record quotes post?

11/10/2006 01:17:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

ORGANON at IHUG dot CO dot NZ.

But wait until Monday.

11/10/2006 01:46:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Yes, will take some time to assemble all the quotes and check the references.

11/10/2006 02:48:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

Sean said...
"Now Class, this is what we call the the Fallacy of the Golden Mean."


Sean, to those with more than a lumpen, folk, and/or cursory knowledge of Logic (with a capital L) there is a clear difference between fatuous fuckwittery informed via the juvenille marshalling of informal fallacies against conversational opinion and chat on blog sites and the answering of 1st year philosophy argument and analysis essays. Within which it is clear given your obvious excellence in such subjects, you must have done exceedingly well and we are all very impressed! (hopefully this sufficiently boosts your self-esteem, which if I was a psychologist (which I am not) I would have suspected was the motive behind your comment)

However more to the point, my suggestion was informed by the obvious flaw inherent in either two of the extremes. A subtley which it seems you didn't pick up.

1. The world is going to end sometime next week.

2. The world offers an infinite supply of resources and there are no limits (at all to population growth).

The probabilistic spread of "truthful" possibilities I would have to assume Sean (neither am I a mathematician) must lie somewhere between the two (perhaps not although I guess that would be quite improbable)

However, "class" if you subscribe to either of these two claims (as opposed to some other alternative) you truely are deluded. Hence, "I suspect the truth lies somewhere between the two"

No need to slap me on the wrist with a wet bus ticket for saying "middle" a sop has already done that.

peace and love
steve

PS: Sean, you are welcome to deduct marks for punctuation and grammar - I haven't proof checked my work.

11/11/2006 09:43:00 am  
Anonymous Sean said...

PS: Sean, you are welcome to deduct marks for punctuation and grammar - I haven't proof checked my work.

LOL! Exactly what I was thinking! Your first sentence alone is so overly complex and unwieldy to leave the question of intellectual errors moot.

Without grammar, logic is not possible in the English language.

Personally, I assume spelling errors are typos. I made a shocker myself in another thread.

11/11/2006 09:15:00 pm  
Blogger Eric Olthwaite said...

Oh excellent. As an acquintance of mine used to say, "I have never met a person who both understood evolution and managed to refute it"

Looks like Berend will be another case of this.

11/13/2006 08:36:00 pm  
Blogger Eric Olthwaite said...

Oh and James. You'd like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qmglGWMsdk

11/14/2006 10:43:00 am  

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