Thursday, 6 December 2018

David Attenborough: 'The sky is falling'

David Attenborough has been widely lauded in headlines worldwide for his dramatic claim that is"civilisation" is to be saved then "we" have just thirty years in which to "take action" -- that action being in the main, as per his speech, government action to ban private actions. “The world’s people have spoken," claimed Attenborough. "Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now." A strange claim indeed to make in a week in which many of France's people set fire to Paris to protest the decision-makers' new French carbon tax.

Stranger still to hear the great man sound so shrill. In the words of Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore,
It's a real shame, but Sir David has allowed himself to be used as a prophet of doom. Who knows what caused his mind to be sucked into this deviance from his once celebratory view of living creation? The demonisation of CO2 is an evil act against the most important food for life.
Even if the doom-mongers were correct about the science, of course, that would say nothing at all about the action to be taken. Bjorn Lomborg for example warns that "strong global climate action would cause far more hunger and food insecurity than climate change itself.” And civilisation itself demands in any case that we take the doom-mongering cautiously.
Before any implication for action can be present, additional information is required.
    One essential piece of information is the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilisation versus avoiding global warming. If one values the benefits provided by industrial civilisation above the avoidance of the losses alleged to result from global warming, it follows that nothing should be done to stop global warming that destroys or undermines industrial civilisation. That is, it follows that global warming should simply be accepted as a byproduct of economic progress and that life should go on as normal in the face of it.
    Modern, industrial civilisation and its further development are values that we dare not sacrifice if we value our material well-being, our health, and our very lives. It is what has enabled billions more people to survive and to live longer and better. Here in the United States it has enabled the average person to live at a level far surpassing that of kings and emperors of a few generations ago.
    The foundation of this civilisation has been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, the use of fossil fuels.
Nevertheless, there is a reason most people sleep far more easily than they should given all the doom-mongering going around -- and there is a very good reason for that: which is the many, many years of  fatuous, fat-headed environmental predictions made by a litany of worry-worts and misanthropic headline-hunting doomsayers.

Predictions like these:

  • 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 IndiaPakistanChina and the Near EastAfrica. 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.’
  • 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
  • Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.--George Wald, Harvard Biologist, Earth Day, 1970
  • It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.
    --Denis Hayes, chief organiser for Earth Day, 1970
  • …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)
  • 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, 1970
  • 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 Bush adviser on global warming Stephen Schneider)
  • 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... 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, Encyclopaedia of Human Ecology Advisory Board Member, Center for the Study of CO2 and Climate Change
  • 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, again
  • Indeed, when we wake up 20 years from now and find that the Atlantic Ocean is just outside WashingtonD.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.
  • The seven atmospheric scientists predict a global warming of ''almost unprecedented magnitude'' in the next century. It might even be sufficient to melt and dislodge the ice cover of West Antarctica, they say, eventually leading to a worldwide rise of 15 to 20 feet in the sea level.
    -- New York Times report, 1981
  • If the current pace of the buildup of these gases continues, the effect is likely to be a warming of 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit [between now and] the year 2025 to 2050…. The rise in global temperature is predicted to … caus[e] sea levels to rise by one to four feet by the middle of the next century.”
    — Philip Shabecoff, “Global Warming Has Begun.” New York Times, June 24, 1988.
  • We've got to ... try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong ... we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.
    --Senator Timothy Wirth, 1988
  • A “senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.”
    -- S
    enior environmental official, Noel Brown, in 1989
  • We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. ... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
    -- environmentalist and presidential adviser, Stephen Schneider, in an interview with Discover magazine, 1989
  • [Within] as little as 10 years, the world will be faced with a choice: arable farming either continues to feed the world’s animals or it continues to feed the world’s people. It cannot do both.
    --environmentalist George Monbiot, writing in The Guardian in 2002
  • On June 23, 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the House of Representatives that there was a strong "cause and effect relationship" between observed temperatures and human emissions into the atmosphere. At that time, Hansen also produced a model of the future behaviour of the globe’s temperature, which he had turned into a video movie that was heavily shopped in Congress. That model predicted that global temperature between 1988 and 1997 would rise by 0.45°C. Ground-based temperatures from the IPCC show a rise of 0.11°C, or more than four times less than Hansen predicted. The forecast made in 1988 was an astounding failure, and IPCC’s 1990 statement about the realistic nature of these projections was simply wrong.
    --Patrick Michaels testifying before Congress in 2000
  • In a 2007 case on auto emissions, [James Hansen] stated in his deposition that most of Greenland’s ice would soon melt, raising sea levels 23 feet over the course of 100 years. Subsequent research published in Nature magazine on the history of Greenland’s ice cap demonstrated this to be impossible. Much of Greenland’s surface melts every summer, meaning rapid melting might reasonably be expected to occur in a dramatically warming world. But not in the one we live in. The 'Nature' study found only modest ice loss after 6,000 years of much warmer temperatures than human activity could ever sustain. 
  • -- Patrick Michaels summarising another Hansen prediction 
  • We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.
    --James Hansen, scaremongering again in 2007 
  • According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event” … “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
    -- Independent (UK) report, March, 2000
  • Rising sea levels, desertification and shrinking freshwater supplies will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade...
    -- Janos Bogardi, director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn, 2005
  • The Scottish skiing industry has no more than 20 years left.
    Adam Watson, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, 2004
  • Unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return, Gore said. He sees the situation as "a true planetary emergency."
    --Al Gore in 2006, promoting his Oscar-winning film called, without irony, The Inconvenient Truth
  • Some of the most memorable images from Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, are the graphics that show how rising ocean levels will dramatically alter our planet’s coastlines. As Greenland’s ice sheets collapse, Gore predicts that our shores will be flooded and sea-bordering cities will sink beneath the water leaving millions of people homeless. His narration tells the audience that, due to global warming, melting ice could release enough water to cause at 20-foot rise in sea level “in the near future.”
    2008 review of Al Gore's 2006 movie
  • More efforts than ever before must be exerted to enable poor countries to prepare for impacts because it had been estimated that there would be between 50 million and 200 million environmental migrants by 2010.
     President of the UN General Assembly Srgjan Kerim, opening the General Assembly debate on global warming, 2008
  • In 2020, the UN has projected that we will have 50 million environmental refugees.
    -- University of California, Los Angeles professor Cristina Tirado said at the 2011 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • The Oceans will begin to boil...
    --James Hansen in 2010, on so-called "runaway" global warming
  • In 2007, 2008 and 2009, Gore publicly and very hysterically warned that the North Pole would be ‘ice-free’ by around 2013 because of alleged ‘man-made global warming.’ Citing ‘climate’ experts, the government-funded BBC hyped the mass hysteria, running a now-embarrassing article under the headline: ‘Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’.’ Other establishment media outlets did the same.”
  •  A team of international climate scientists and researchers at NASA claims the Arctic summer will be ice-free in 2013.
    -- report in German online national daily Die Welt

  • “We’re toast if we don’t get on a very different path,” [said James] Hansen and his fellow scientists [who] saw a tipping point occurring right before their eyes and that the Arctic was melting exactly the way they said it would.. 
    Hansen added that the Arctic would be ice-free in 5 to 10 years.
    -- report on James Hansen et al, from June 23, 2008
  • "[The Arctic is] melting at a brutal speed ... 
     Already last October I was predicting that the Arctic could be ice-free this summer” and “In August or September we will be seeing people cruising in sailboats up there.
    researcher Olav Orheim of the Norwegian Research Council, reported in
    Der Spiegel
    in 2008
  • Sydney's dams could be dry in as little as two years because global warming was drying up the rains, leaving the city "facing extreme difficulties with water."
    --Tim Flannery, 
    Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist; Australia's leading conservationist, explorer, and global warming activist, speaking to ABC in 2005
  • The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.
    --Tim Flannery, speaking to the ABC, 2008
  • Brisbane will never again have dam-filling rains, as global warming has caused "a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas" and made the soil too hot, "so even the rain that falls isn't actually going to fill our dams and river systems ... "
    --Flannery again, speaking to the ABC in 2007
  • We only have four years to save the world. If “there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late... What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment,” he said.
    --Rajendra Pachauri, the former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reported in 2007
  • We have hours to act to avert a slow-motion tsunami that could destroy civilization as we know it.. Earth has a long time. Humanity does not. We need to act urgently. We no longer have decades; we have hours. We mark that in Earth Hour on Saturday.
    Elizabeth May, leader of the Canadian Greens, writing in 2009
  • Brown warned there was only “50 days to save the world from global warming,” the BBC reported. According to Brown there was “no plan B.”
    -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 2009
  • Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned in a grandstand speech which set out his concerns for the future of the planet. The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James's Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world... Delivering the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture, Charles said that without "coherent financial incentives and disincentives" we have just 96 months to avert "irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it."
    -- Prince Charles in 2009, as reported by The Independent (UK)
  •  Obama’s second term is “the last window of opportunity” to impose policies to restrict fossil fuel use. Wirth said it’s “the last chance we have to get anything approaching 2 degrees Centigrade,” adding that if “we don’t do it now, we are committing the world to a drastically different place.”
    -- United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth speaking to 'Climatewire' in 2012
  • "Over the past 50 years, southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming ... In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months."
    --Flannery yet again, speaking in 2007, the year he was named Australian of the Year
  • "We have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.”
    -- French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius, meeting with John Kerry in 2014

Remember ...
Being a climate hysteric means
never having to say you’re sorry.

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