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Earth Day: Getting It Wrong Since 1970

A dose of healthy skepticism is called for, especially on Earth Day. 

It’s Earth Day, which means we can be on the lookout for a deluge of stories about climate change and how humans are destroying the planet. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, we’ve seen a constant drumbeat of scare tactics to tell us that our everyday activities are causing harm to the climate and to our future as a planet.

A quick read of the top stories today shows the scare measures in full force: Earth Day look back: Global climate change overshadows success in cleaning up Los Angeles’ smogFighting Despair to Fight Climate ChangeHumanity’s Frightening Uncertainty About the Economic Consequences of Climate ChangeClimate change increasing massive wildfires in West; the list goes on.

In fact, at the first Earth Day in 1970, the same rhetoric we hear today was being utilized to great effect to predict the coming of a new ice age and global cooling. A special edition of Newsweek from January 26, 1970, entitled “The Ravaged Environment,” said “[t]his theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.”

Beyond the threats of a new ice age and global cooling, spectators heard:

  • Harvard biologist George Wald saying “[ci]vilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
  • Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich saying “[p]opulation 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.”
    • Ehrlich also went on to say, “[m]ost of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [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.”
    • Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day said “[i]t is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”

Thankfully for mankind, the doomsday scenarios did not come to fruition after the first Earth Day, and contrary to the popular attacks today, a dose of healthy skepticism directed at the apostles of climate change isn’t a bad thing either.

2nd Vote is working to continue to highlight the corporate activities with groups who are pushing an aggressive anti-growth climate agenda. Please make sure to look at our database to make sure you’re not spending money supporting organizations pushing a radical agenda in the name of science.