Doomsday Prophecy For Environmentalists

In Environmentalism: A New Religion? David G. Danielson writes,

Today, the doomsday prophets are environmental scaremongers who rake in millions of dollars frightening the gullible with contemporary fables of ozone depletion, acid rain, and oceans ruined forever by tanker accidents. They may think their racket is new, but it's simply the same old game the evangelists have played for centuries, dressed up in a jargon more effective for audiences born in a scientific age...

Rabbi Daniel Friedman, of Deerfield, Illinois, considers environmentalism to be a lay rehash of end-times mythology. "It is striking," he notes, "the extent to which Environmentalism resembles classic religious [prophecies about the end of time]. Man is still the rebellious sinner. The source of evil isn't Satan but the industrial revolution, technology, productivity, and capitalism. Redemption is to return to that Eden-like state of nature before man's corruption of the Earth."

Regardless of whether the Bible's Eden is a myth, the pre-industrial Eden imagined by environmentalists certainly is: Prior to the industrial revolution, most children didn't live past age five, and existence for the average adult was a plague-ridden, hungry affair, pretty much like "life" today in those societies that have never discovered free enterprise.

In the religion of environmentalism, it is the power of the state - not the supernatural power of God or church - that is designed to bring about salvation. Instead of Adam and Eve, the Burning Bush, and the Splitting of the Red Sea, environmentalism has alar, acid rain, asbestos, dioxin, global warming, and ozone depletion...

The Population Bomb (1968) is a book written by Paul R. Ehrlich. A best-selling work, it predicted disaster for humanity due to overpopulation and the "population explosion". The book predicted that "in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death", that nothing can be done to avoid mass famine greater than any in the history, and radical action is needed to limit the overpopulation.

History proved Ehrlich wrong, as the mass starvations predicted for the 1970s and 1980s never occurred. (Note a big follower of this nonsense is billionaire Ted Turner of the UN Foundation. See Beware of Environmental Hysteria and Exposing the UN Climate Change Panel and Its Politics.)

Critics have compared Ehrlich to Thomas Malthus for his multiple predictions of famine and economic catastrophe. The leading critic of Ehrlich was Julian Lincoln Simon, a libertarian theorist and the author of the book The Ultimate Resource, a book which argues a larger population is a benefit, not a cost. To test their two contrasting views on resources, in 1980, Ehrlich and Simon entered into a wager over how the price of metals would move during the 1980s.

Ehrlich predicted that the price would increase as metals became more scarce in the Earth's crust, while Simon insisted the price of metals had fallen throughout human history and would continue to do so. Ehrlich lost the bet. Indeed such was the decline in the price of the five metals Ehrlich selected, Simon would have won even without taking inflation into account.

In Ehrlich's books, many predictions are made, for example, The Population Bomb begins "[t]he battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death," while in "The End of Affluence", Ehrlich stated, "One general prediction can be made with confidence: the cost of feeding yourself and your family will continue to increase.

There may be minor fluctuations in food prices, but the overall trend will be up". According to Ehrlich, the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 years by 1980 because of pesticide usage, and the nation's population would drop to 22.6 million by 1999. (Note the population is 300 million in 2008 and life expectancy continues to go up.)

Criticizing Ehrlich on similar grounds as Simon was Ronald Bailey, a leader in the wise use movement, who wrote a book in 1993 entitled Eco-Scam where he blasted the views of Ehrlich, Lester Brown, Carl Sagan and other environmental theorists. While of the repeated theorizing Simon complained "As soon as one predicted disaster doesn't occur, the doomsayers skip to another... why don't the [they] see that, in the aggregate, things are getting better? Why do they always think we're at a turning point -- or at the end of the road?"

In his book Betrayal of Science and Reason, Ehrlich discussed these earlier predictions of his and re-affirmed his stances on population and resource issues. There has been much criticism of the book from demographers today (chiefly Phillip Longman in his 2004 The Empty Cradle) who argues that the "baby boom" of the 1950s was an aberration unlikely to be repeated and that population decline in an urbanized society is by nature hard to prevent because of the economic liability children become.

The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg disputes many of the claims in the book. Various Indices of Economic Freedom claim that lack of property rights, not high population density, is the real cause of famine. Thus, countries such as China, India, South Korea, and Botswana were able to eliminate their famines by adopting property rights.

Likewise, countries such as Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and North Korea created famines when they abolished property rights. Ehrlich's book does not explain why South Korea is so much better off than North Korea, but an analysis of property rights explains this difference very well.

Additional note: Lester Russell Brown (born 1934) is an environmental analyst who has written over twenty books on global environmental issues. His works have been translated into more than forty languages. He is the founder of the Worldwatch Institute and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute which is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. (Research as in public policy, not science.)

One of his best known works is Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. The recipient of forty honorary degrees and a MacArthur Fellowship, among numerous other awards, Brown has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers." In 1991, the American Humanist Association named Brown the Humanist of the Year. He has no science credentials, he is more a humanist' philosopher.