Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Latest in a Long Line of Chicken Littles

The world is going to end in 12 years unless the government takes action on “climate change,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said at a Martin Luther King forum in New York City.

After her statement was reported, she responded with the following:

For some reason GOP seems to think this is a gaffe, but it’s actually a generational difference. Young people understand that climate change is an existential threat: 3,000 Americans died in Hurricane María. The UN says we’ve got 12 years left to fix it.”

Yes, there is a generational difference. These types of predictions go back a long way. The United Nations has a vested interest in doomsday scenarios: other people’s money and power.

In the mid-seventies, with the release of his books The Population Bomb and The End of Affluence, Paul Ehrlich outlined a Hollywood-style disaster scenario where he foresaw the President dissolving Congress “during the food riots of the 1980s,” followed by the United States suffering a nuclear attack for its mass use of insecticides.

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Like Malthus before him, in the late 1960s, Ehrlich did not see much of a future for England. “I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

In 1976, he went beyond predicting food scarcity and took it upon himself to make unfounded pronouncements about natural resources. “Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity . . . in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.” Economist Julian Simon won a bet with Ehrlich on whether the price of five strategic metals which Ehrlich chose (copper, chrome, nickel, tin, tungsten) would rise or fall in a ten-year period from 1980 to 1990. All five metals went down in price.

The year 2001 saw “the worst decline in commodity prices in at least 31 years. Copper fell to a 14-year low, coffee was the cheapest since 1971 and cotton dropped to its lowest price in more than two decades.”

Ehrlich was not alone in adopting a Chicken-Little worldview. In the January 21, 1976, issue of Parade Magazine, an ad appeared that asserted the following: “It’s fact. The latest U.S. Government figures indicate our proven [oil] reserves will only last [12 years] . . . These frightening numbers reveal our energy problem.”

It wasn’t “fact.” Sheikh Yamani, a former Saudi oil minister predicted a crash in the price of oil and that “within a few decades, vast reserves of oil will lie unwanted and the ‘oil age’ will come to an end…. Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil­­—and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground.” Any shortage of oil today is the result of purposeful limiting of supplies by government-controlled cartels, governmental restrictions on new drilling ventures because of environmental concerns, and technological shortcomings.

Despite being wrong on nearly every environmental prediction, Ehrlich and others who have adopted his worldview, continue to insist that overpopulation is an out-of-control problem. And yet Ehrlich has never explained how “overpopulated” Japan, Belgium, and Holland, with more than 500 people per square mile, have a higher standard of living than Columbia, Kenya, and Ethiopia with less than 100 people per square mile. Why is it that “very densely populated places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore report no famines”? Hong Kong has 20 times the number of people per square mile as India, and yet, the standard of living in India is one-hundredth of what it is in Hong Kong.

Consider Singapore. This tiny nation “has more than 10,000 people per square mile, and its income per capita is more than 200 times higher than that of Ethiopia.”

Ehrlich’s claim that natural resources are the deciding factor in determining whether a nation will be prosperous enough to feed its population cannot be substantiated by a rehearsal of the facts. “Japan has no petroleum and imports most of the natural resources needed to produce its large industrial output.
Yet it has a much higher per capita income than Mexico, which has abundant minerals, fertile soil, large petroleum deposits, and rivers capable of producing much hydroelectric power.” In reality, civil war, socialist and Marxist economic policies, nature worship, and bureaucratic obstacles contribute more to famine and poor living conditions than overpopulation.

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Here’s a list of some of the predictions made going back more than 50 years:

  • In 1976, Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, went beyond predicting food scarcity and took it upon himself to make unfounded pronouncements about natural resources. “Before 1985,” he claimed, “mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity … in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.”
  • In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., stated, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
  • In 1966, before the Internet even existed, TIME magazine published an essay called “The Futurists,” which imagined what the world would be like in the year 2000. Besides guessing the social, physical and technological changes in the world, TIME pontificated that remote shopping, while possible, would never become popular because “women like to get out of the house, like to handle the merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.”
  • “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle magazine that “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
  • “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.
  • James Hansen predicted in 1988 that the world would warm at a catastrophic rate — which also has not happened. In fact, satellite temperature records show no warming trend since the late 1990s, and surface temperature data have also shown much less warming than was originally predicted.
  • Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “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, the Near East, and 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.”
  • In January 1970, now defunct Life magazine 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 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.’”
  • In 1970, Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “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.”

She and her millennial supporters need to do a bit of investigative journalism. What was nearly impossible to do just 30 years ago, can be accomplished in about 20 minuted today.

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