Everything you write is ridiculous. The world has already warmed up. We're already seeing rapid declines in both population growth and the acceleration of emissions. We've already had mass extinctions. There is already massive resource stress with COVID, and yet everything keeps chugging along just fine, albeit less efficiently than before. Whether you like it or not, the hard part is over. There aren't many places left like California that will see a 100 fold demand increase on limited water or any other resource availability in the next two centuries like we just saw from 1820 to 2020. You can pretend that California or Spain will have 4 billion people in 100 years if you really want to, but it's just not real likely. You sound like a dumber version of Paul Ehlrich, except even he doesn't buy into human extinction either, and he's the "England won't exist in 1971" guy / "millions of Americans will die from starvation" etc etc guy with that stupid Population Bomb book because he had no idea a single person like a Normal Borlaug could do so much alone with the Green Revolution. It's a failure of imagination.
Ehrlich was so stupid that even when it was unequivocally clear what Borlaug had accomplished in the 1970s, he kept with his asinine forecasts.
Mann certainly thinks it's an idiotic position that humans will go extinct from climate change. You can find at least 25 other scientists in the climate field saying some variation of this from a single Google search.
"There is no evidence of climate change scenarios that would render human beings extinct," Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and author of "The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet" (PublicAffairs, 2021), told Live Science in an email.
Here is a simple example of why humans won't be extinct: I personally own land that can produce food. I have at least 400 pounds of meat stored, that doesn't even include my stock of non-perishable food, and the water I have on my properties. I could easily live for at least three years just off my possession in the absence of any food produced anywhere in the world ever again. Now imagine that there is also abundant food in store houses, grocery stores, farms, ranches, military bases, and so on. Now scale it for billions of people, and remember that we produce enough food to feed 10 billion people a year., even if it isn't distributed super well. There are over 40 fruit producing trees within three blocks of my house, and I live in a ****ing desert. I also have generators, and a deep knowledge of electrical systems to maintain the power supply to build an irrigation system if I had to. My property also includes buildings that were built underground with lead lining, since New Mexico is a likely target in nuclear war, given our capabilities locally. I would easily survive for years even after a nuclear incident. Others surely would too, with airplanes, space travel, subs and so on. You don't have the imagination to understand resiliency, you're pretty dumb.
Prediction of Earth running out of resources and various other types of doom have been wrong for literally decades at this point. Whatever you think of global warming, it's ****ing dumb to predict the end of the world from a resource shortage triggered war, especially in an era of emerging space travel for civilians. Every war in history has been over resources, of course it will happen again. If cavemen could survive the ice age, you need to have a little faith in the current sophistication of our species.
Here are a couple examples of Ehrlich-isms: https://reason.com/2000/05/01/earth-day-then-and-now-2/
"By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." Ehrlich, 1971. https://tinyurl.com/9zf5hs55
"Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born," wrote Ehrlich in an essay titled "Eco-Catastrophe!," which ran in the special Earth Day issue of the radical magazine Ramparts. "By… 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." Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the "Great Die-Off."
Since 1970, the amount of food per person globally has increased by 26 percent, and as the International Food Policy Research Institute reported in October 1999, "World market prices for wheat, maize, and rice, adjusted for inflation, are the lowest they have been in the last century." According to the World Bank's World Development Report 2000, food production increased by 60 percent between 1980 and 1997. At the same time, the amount of land devoted to growing crops has barely increased over the past 30 years, meaning that millions of acres have been spared for nature--acres that would have been plowed down had agricultural productivity lagged the way Ehrlich and others believed it would.
In January 1970, Life reported, "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…." Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, "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." Barry Commoner cited a National Research Council report that had estimated "that by 1980 the oxygen demand due to municipal wastes will equal the oxygen content of the total flow of all the U.S. river systems in the summer months." Translation: Decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America's rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.
Of course, the irrepressible Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in his Mademoiselle interview that "air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone." In Ramparts, Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during "smog disasters" in New York and Los Angeles.
So has air pollution gotten worse? Quite the contrary. In the most recent National Air Quality Trends report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--itself created three decades ago partly as a response to Earth Day celebrations--had this to say: "Since 1970, total U.S. population increased 29 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 121 percent, and the gross domestic product (GDP) increased 104 percent. During that same period, notable reductions in air quality concentrations and emissions took place." Since 1970, ambient levels of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide have fallen by 75 percent, while total suspended particulates like smoke, soot, and dust have been cut by 50 percent since the 1950s.
In 1988, the particulate standard was changed to account for smaller particles. Even under this tougher standard, particulates have declined an additional 15 percent. Ambient ozone and nitrogen dioxide, prime constituents of smog, are both down by 30 percent since the 1970s. According to the EPA, the total number of days with air pollution alerts dropped 56 percent in Southern California and 66 percent in the remaining major cities in the United States between 1988 and 1997.
Since at least the early 1990s, residents of infamously smogged-in Los Angeles have been able to see that their city is surrounded by mountains.
Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons "may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945." In his "Eco-Catastrophe!" scenario, Ehrlich put a finer point on these fears by envisioning a 1973 Department of Health, Education, and Welfare study which would find "that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out.
"Why has air quality improved so dramatically? Part of the answer lies in emissions targets set by federal, state, and local governments. But these need to be understood in the twin contexts of rising wealth and economic efficiency. As a Department of Interior analyst concluded after surveying emissions in 1999, "Cleaner air is a direct consequence of better technologies and the enormous and sustained investments that only a rich nation could have sunk into developing, installing, and operating these technologies." Today, American businesses, consumers, and government agencies spend about $40 billion annually on air pollution controls.
"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," warned Sierra Club director Martin Litton in Time's February 2, 1970, special "environmental report." Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, "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.'" Later that year, Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.
Of course this didn't happen. The prices of all metals and minerals have dropped by more than 50 percent since 1970, according to the World Resources Institute. As we all know, lower prices mean that things are becoming more abundant, not less. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that at present rates of mining, reserves of copper will last 54 years; zinc, 56 years; silver, 26 years; tin, 55 years; gold, 30 years; and lead, 47 years. What about oil? The survey estimates that global reserves could be as much as 2.1 trillion barrels of crude oil--enough to supply the world for the next 90 years. These reserve figures are constantly moving targets--as they get drawn down, miners and drillers find new sources of supply or develop more efficient technologies for exploiting the resources.
Worries about declining biodiversity have become popular lately. On the first Earth Day, participants were concerned about saving a few particularly charismatic species such as the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon. But even then some foresaw a coming holocaust. As Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look, "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." Writing just five years after the first Earth Day, Paul Ehrlich and his biologist wife, Anne Ehrlich, predicted that "since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it."
There's only one problem: Most species that were alive in 1970 are still around today. "Documented animal extinctions peaked in the 1930s, and the number of extinctions has been declining since then," according to Stephen Edwards, an ecologist with the World Conservation Union, a leading international conservation organization whose members are non-governmental organizations, international agencies, and national conservation agencies. Edwards notes that a 1994 World Conservation Union report found known extinctions since 1600 encompassed 258 animal species, 368 insect species, and 384 vascular plants. Most of these species, he explains, were "island endemics" like the Dodo. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to habitat disruption, hunting, and competition from invading species. Since 1973, only seven species have gone extinct in the United States.
What mostly accounts for relatively low rates of extinction? As with many other green indicators, wealth leads the way by both creating a market for environmental values and delivering resource-efficient technology. Consider, for example, that one of the main causes of extinction is deforestation and the ensuing loss of habitat. According to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, what drives most tropical deforestation is not commercial logging, but "poor farmers who have no other option for feeding their families than slashing and burning a patch of forest." By contrast, countries that practice high yield, chemically assisted agriculture have expanding forests. In 1920, U.S. forests covered 732 million acres. Today they cover 737 million acres, even though the number of Americans grew from 106 million in 1920 to 272 million now. Forests in Europe expanded even more dramatically, from 361 million acres to 482 million acres between 1950 and 1990. Despite continuing deforestation in tropical countries, Roger Sedjo, a senior fellow at the think tank Resources for the Future, notes that "76 percent of the tropical rain forest zone is still covered with forest." Which is quite a far cry from being nine-tenths gone. More good news: In its State of the World's Forests 1999, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization documents that while forests in developing countries were reduced by 9.1 percent between 1980 and 1995, the global rate of deforestation is now slowing.
How did the doomsters get so many predictions so wrong on the first Earth Day? Their mistake can be handily summed up in Paul Ehrlich and John Holdern's infamous I=PAT equation. Impact (always negative) equals Population x Affluence x Technology, they declared. More people were always worse, by definition. Affluence meant that rich people were consuming more of the earth's resources, a concept that was regularly illustrated by claiming that the birth of each additional baby in America was worse for the environment than 25, 50, or even 60 babies born on the Indian subcontinent. And technology was bad because it meant that humans were pouring more poisons into the biosphere, drawing down more nonrenewable resources and destroying more of the remaining wilderness.
We now know that Ehrlich and his fellow travelers got it backwards. If population were necessarily bad, then Brazil, with less than three-quarters the population density of the U.S., should be the wealthier society. As far as affluence goes, it is clearly the case that the richer the country, the cleaner the water, the clearer the air, and the more protected the forests. Additionally, richer countries also boast less hunger, longer lifespans, lower fertility rates, and more land set aside for nature. Relatively poor people can't afford to care overmuch for the state of the natural world.
With regards to technology, Ehrlich and other activists often claim that economists simply don't understand the simple facts of ecology. But it's the doomsters who need to update their economics--things have changed since the appearance of Thomas Malthus' 200-year-old An Essay on the Principle of Population, the basic text that continues to underwrite much apocalyptic rhetoric. Malthus hypothesized that while population increases geometrically, food and other resources increased arithmetically, leading to a world in which food was always in short supply. Nowadays, we understand that wealth is not created simply by combining land and labor. Rather, technological innovations greatly raise positive outputs in all sorts of ways while minimizing pollution and other negative outputs.
Indeed, if Ehrlich wants to improve his sorry record of predictions and his understanding of how to protect the natural world, he should walk across campus to talk with his Stanford University colleague, economist Paul Romer. "New Growth Theory," devised by Romer and others, shows that wealth springs from new ideas and new recipes. Romer sums it up this way: "Every generation has perceived the limits to growth that finite resources and undesirable side effects would pose if no new recipes or ideas were discovered. And every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas. We consistently fail to grasp how many ideas remain to be discovered. The difficulty is the same one we have with compounding. Possibilities do not add up. They multiply." In other words, new ideas and technological recipes grow exponentially at a rate much faster than population does.
"I'm scared," confessed Paul Ehrlich in the 1970 Earth Day issue of Look. "I have a 14 year old daughter whom I love very much. I know a lot of young people, and their world is being destroyed. My world is being destroyed. I'm 37 and I'd kind of like to live to be 67 in a reasonably pleasant world, and not die in some kind of holocaust in the next decade." Ehrlich didn't die in a holocaust, and the world is far more pleasant than he thought it would be. It is probably too much to hope that abashed humility will strike him and he'll desist in bedeviling the world with his dire and consistently wrong predictions. He's like a reverse Cassandra --Cassandra made true prophecies but no one would listen to her. Ehrlich makes false prophecies and everyone listens to him.