Thursday, April 25, 2019

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

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

“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.


This Earth Day, thank America: The world leader in clean air

Did you know the United States leads the world in clean air?

As I walk the halls of the Capitol, meeting with members of Congress and their staff about the energy policies that help and hurt our country’s future, I’m shocked how many people don’t know and can’t believe this fact.

Over the last 50 years, harmful air pollution known as particulate matter has plummeted. Toxic pollutants like lead, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide are now nearly nonexistent in our air. Ozone is down dramatically. We’re the only highly populated nation in the world to meet the World Health Organization’s standards for particulate matter and by a long shot. In fact, our standards are among the strictest in the world.

These radical air quality gains occurred at the same time our population, energy consumption, vehicle miles traveled, and gross domestic product also grew dramatically.

Our ongoing and increasingly fraught national conversation about the environment too often misses the fact that reliable, affordable energy is the critical enabler of innovation.

Countries like Germany have tried to force their way to environmental leadership by mandating a switch to wind and solar energy before the markets and technology were ready. This led to 46% higher electricity costs, massive subsidies to keep coal plants running for backup power, and dependence on imported wood from the U.S. for cooking and heating fuel — with little or no effect on the environment.

Meanwhile, free from the burden of stringent and stifling regulations, Americans have done what we have always done best: rolled up our sleeves and gotten to work.

Take the catalytic converter, which turns toxic exhaust into harmless gases, like water vapor, by catalyzing a chemical reaction. It was perfected for use in gasoline engines in the 1950s by Eugene Houdry, a French scientist who became a U.S. citizen in 1942, and was popularized in the 1970s as an efficient way to meet the Clean Air Act standards.

According to the EPA, which calls the catalytic converter “one of the greatest environmental inventions of all time,” modern cars, SUVs, trucks, and buses are 98-99% cleaner now than they were 50 years ago. Tailpipe pollutants have nearly been eliminated, meaning our cities are no longer stifled by smog. We’re free to take advantage of the independence, mobility, and economic opportunity personal vehicles offer without sacrificing environmental quality.

That’s good old American ingenuity at work. It continues to work today in technologies like baghouse dust collectors that eliminate pollution from commercial plants and renewable natural gas generation from methane captured from landfills or wastewater treatment plants. The limitless potential of the free market and innovation, not government mandates and taxes, have driven both our economy and environment to dramatic success.

All this is made possible by access to abundant, reliable, and affordable energy. Our energy resources have the power to improve our quality of life, power our economies, and lift people out of poverty both at home and abroad, all while improving the environment. Nothing is more powerful to drive human flourishing than energy.

Today, much of America’s air pollution is not of our own making. It’s blown into the West Coast from Asia. More stringent air quality regulations will do far more to export jobs out of the U.S. than they will to make our air safer to breathe.

On the other hand, the more our energy and manufacturing sectors are allowed to flourish, the more we can export to our friends and allies worldwide — which means the more we can export our environmental quality.

This Earth Day, we should celebrate our country’s radical achievements by embracing our abundant energy resources and empowering the free market to drive more environmental and economic progress for generations to come.

Jason Isaac is a senior manager and distinguished fellow of Life:Powered, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He previously served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.


If You Love Forests, Let Them Burn

Today marks 49 years since Earth Day was first established by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). Since then, the United States has made great strides towards improving the nation’s collective impact on the environment. Air pollution has fallen drastically. Efforts to clean up Superfund sites have removed toxic contaminants from hundreds of lands and rivers.

One place where we are failing, however, is healthy management of our forests. Nearly a century of anti-wildfire sentiments has damaged forest ecosystems and driven up the cost of preventing and controlling wildfires. It’s time to embrace fire as a natural part of the American landscape and a crucial means of preventing devastating blazes.

Following the Great Fire of 1910, which devastated large swathes of timberland in Northern Idaho and Western Montana, fire management policy began to focus largely on fire prevention and suppression. The US Forest Service (USFS), the main public agency charged with managing wildfires, established a policy to put out all fires before they consumed 10 acres.

About a decade later, USFS updated that policy to have all fires out by 10 am the morning following the discovery of a new blaze. That policy endured for decades before its repeal in 1978, when fire managers began to realize that not all forest fires needed to be doused immediately. That recognition was progress in the right direction, but a suppression-heavy focus on fire management has continued to drive policy even today.

Fire suppression, however, is an expensive answer to stopping wildfires and it has taken a major toll on the budgets of US fire management agencies like the USFS. Twenty years ago, in 1998, US spending on wildfire suppression totaled a little more than $400 million. By 2008, those costs had risen to nearly $1.6 billion. Just last year, fire managers spent a combined $3.1 billion on suppression efforts. That spending also failed to stop states like California from suffering the most destructive wildfire season in recent history.

Suppression efforts not only increase the cost of fighting fires, but they deprive ecosystems that have adapted to the considerable benefits of wildfires. Fire confers a number of important positive ecological advantages on forests, like clearing out dead brush, preventing overgrowth, and eliminating disease and invasive pests.

Fast forward to today and it is easy to see the negative effects of the fire-suppression mindset. Side-by-side comparisons of forests from a century ago and today show that forests have become much denser since we began to aggressively suppress fires. In some parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, more than 90 percent of the trees are dead. The lack of fire as a cleansing mechanism has turned many western forests into veritable tinderboxes ready to go up in flames at the first spark.

So how do we fix a century of bad forest management? We get back to what worked. We let forests burn.

That isn’t to say we need to start letting fires burn out of control. Tens of millions of Americans currently live in at-risk fire areas, and ways must be found to protect those communities. But one of our best options for doing so—from an ecological and economic standpoint—lies in preventative, controlled burning.

Controlled burning is a method of preventative management by which managers actually set up, start, and actively monitor fires to reduce dead brush buildup and overgrowth in forests. This method of prevention provides two key benefits over suppression—it reintroduces fire to fire-adapted landscapes, and it reduces wildfire risk at a fraction of the cost of suppression. Controlled burning, after all, is how Native Americans managed western lands for centuries

Public perceptions of wildfire danger and environmental regulation, however, have created barriers to implementing controlled burns in western landscapes. The Clean Air Act, for example, regulates emissions from controlled burns but does nothing to regulate emissions from wildfires, even though wildfire smoke contains three times as much particulate matter as smoke from controlled burns.

Policymakers need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of controlled burning for managing future forest fires. Removing barriers to managed burns in western forests not only will reduce the cost and scope of wildfire disasters, but will restore an ecologically important practice to western landscapes.


House Speaker Pelosi: ‘For Democrats, Combating the Climate Crisis…Is a Moral Imperative’

When Leftists talk morality it is time to switch off. They have the ethics of a flea

Passing climate change legislation is “a moral imperative” for the Democrat Party, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared Monday.

In a statement in recognition of Earth Day, Pelosi declared Democrats’ climate agenda a matter of morality:

“For Democrats, combatting the climate crisis is not an issue – it is a moral imperative that compels us to act. That is why, on day one, we created the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to put an end to the inaction and denial of science that threaten the Earth and our future.

“House Democrats also took a bold first step to protect our planet by introducing H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, to keep us in the Paris Agreement, demand a real plan from the Trump Administration and lay the foundation for further decisive action from the Congress. On Earth Day, and every day, Democrats are fighting For The People, and are working to create a clean energy economy and a safe, sustainable future for our children and grandchildren to grow and thrive.”

“The climate crisis is already exacting a devastating toll,” so Democrats must act now, Pelosi said:

“In communities across the globe, the climate crisis is already exacting a devastating toll as rising seas, savage droughts, devastating wildfires and increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather patterns threaten the people and places we love. In America, the growing crisis is raising serious risk to our public health, our economy, our national security and our moral obligation to protect the environment.”


The Ridd affair is a debacle for JCU -- and its council should look into it

Physicist Prof. Ridd blew the whistle on scientific fraud at JCU and the Warmist fraudsters hate him for it. He showed that their statements about the "endangered" Great Barrier Reef depended on very selective evidence.  They had no defence against his accusations so they played the man, not the ball.  The Federal court has just overturned their attempt to fire him.  

They were relying on the taxpayers' deep pockets to ensure that Ridd could not afford to challenge them in court.  But Ridd's treatment was so palpably wrong that many people rallied to his defence by contributing to his fighting fund

The unrepentant academics at JCU have said they will appeal the finding.  They may be encouraged by the fact that judge Vasta has been overturned a few times lately.  They should not get their hopes up. He has been overturned on appeal at least 15 times but he has heard more than 1000 cases.  That's not good odds for them

Thank God for the National Tertiary Education Union. Sacked professor Peter Ridd won his Federal Court action against James Cook University this month ­entirely because the university’s enterprise bargaining agreement, negotiated by the union, included a lengthy and carefully worded protection for intellectual freedom.

And that is the simple fact. Ridd’s win (he was found to have been wrongly dismissed) was a big victory for intellectual freedom in academia, and its legal foundation is in the commitment of the tertiary union to free speech.

Why is last week’s decision, from judge Salvatore Vasta, so important? It helps to look back at the history of this dispute.

First of all, Ridd is a respected scientist. He was head of physics at JCU from 2009 to 2016, and he managed the university’s marine geophysical laboratory for 15 years. He has expertise in studies of the Great Barrier Reef.

But he held concerns about the methodology used by some colleagues who said that coral bleaching on the reef was a recent phenomenon and linked to global warming.

Ridd also questioned the methodology behind findings that sediment in run-off was damaging the reef.

Ridd spoke to journalists and made public statements about these concerns. He questioned the judgments of colleagues and called on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to “check their facts before they spin their story”.

But the point about this is that Ridd was arguing about scientific judgments. His views may be right or wrong. But they are testable in the way all scientific assertions should be tested — by observation and experiment. Scientific controversies are a staple of the history of science and, eventually, truth outs.

But the university, offended by Ridd’s contrarian views and possibly fearing the impact it would have on its relations with other bodies such as the GBRMPA and the ARC Centre of Excellence, went after Ridd personally, saying that he had breached the university’s code of conduct by not upholding “the integrity and good reputation of the university”.

The university also trawled through Ridd’s work emails and came up with things that reflected on the organisation and some of Ridd’s colleagues.

There was this statement by Ridd: “ … our whole university system pretends to value free debate, but in fact it crushes it whenever the ‘wrong’ ideas are spoken. They are truly an Orwellian in nature.” And this, referring to some colleagues: “Needless to say I have certainly offended some sensitive but powerful and ruthless egos.”

Such statements, in the view of the university, were again not upholding the university’s good integrity and good reputation.

Sensibly, [judge] Vasta took the view that Ridd was just exercising his right, contained in the enterprise agreement, to “express opinions about the operations of JCU” and “express disagreement with university decisions and with the processes used to make those decisions”.

Naturally the university doesn’t agree. In a statement last week, issued after the decision, it stood by its view that Ridd “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees and breaching confidentiality directions regarding the disciplinary processes”.

“We are a university,” JCU also proclaimed in the statement. “Within our very DNA is the importance of promoting academic views and collegiate debate.”

With respect, it is exactly the lack of commitment to academic and collegiate debate that is the problem.

If the university had taken Ridd’s scientific objections to findings about damage to the Barrier Reef seriously, it’s very unlikely that this debacle — which is highly damaging to the university — would have occurred.

There is another point that needs to be made. The science at issue here is not about whether or not global warming is occurring, or whether or not such warming is caused by humans. What Ridd questioned is whether recent bleaching (which nobody disputes occurred) is itself evidence of warming. Ridd presented evidence — which should have been ­investigated, not summarily dismissed — that bleaching is a recurring phenomenon not specifically linked to warming.

In the court decision, Vasta offered his own defence of intellectual freedom and an implicit rebuke of JCU.

“It (intellectual freedom) allows a Charles Darwin to break free of the constraints of creationism. It allows an Albert Einstein to break free of the constraints of Newtonian physics. It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about. To suggest otherwise is to ignore why universities were created and why critically focused academics remain central to all that university teaching claims to offer,” the judge said.

The Ridd affair should be of major concern to the JCU council — the university’s governing body — and its chancellor, former diplomat Bill Tweddell. If the council doesn’t look into why the university sacked a professor whose honestly held scientific views happened to be unpopular, then it’s failing in its duty.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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