False prophets of doom

We all have heard various environmental doom predictions over the years.  From the day of Malthus predicting the world would end because of overpopulation

This article points out that this has happened over and over again, especially in the last 30-40 years.  Every new year someone predicts the world will end for one reason or another.

And I absolutely mean no disrespect to environmental groups when I say this, but perhaps this peak oil thing isn’t quite as dire as people make it seem.  At least not yet.  In fact, just take a look at some of this from the article itself: “In 1972, a report was written for the Club of Rome warning the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987 and petroleum, copper, lead and natural gas by 1992. Gordon Taylor, in his 1970 work “The Doomsday Book,” said Americans were using 50 percent of the world’s resources and “by 2000 they [Americans] will, if permitted, be using all of them.” In 1975, the Environmental Fund took out full-page ads warning, “The World as we know it will likely be ruined by the year 2000.”Harvard University biologist George Wald in 1970 warned, “… civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” That was the same year that Sen. Gaylord Nelson warned, in Look Magazine, that by 1995 “… somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

Back in 1972 they were predicting the end of oil by 1987.  While we’re still predicting an unsustainable consumption pattern (which is of course true since the resource is finite, perhaps we’re not at the end of the rope just yet.

All that being said, I entirely, wholeheartedly think we need to back away from pollution.  Even if we’re not able to foretell the end of the planet with certainty, we’re most definitely hastening our departure through our insane pace of pollution.

The author of this article is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University named Walter Williams.  I think much of what he’s trying to get at is that despite the failed predictions, it’s not enough to dismiss these things out of hand.   Check out the article here.

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