Earth Day 2017: A look back at the fun prediction failures


I remember the first earth day well. I was in elementary school, and we went outside to plant a tree. 

I lived in southern Florida, surrounded by trees, and we were planting a tree, and the teachers were making a big deal out of it. 

Here’s a look back at some grand prediction failures from 1970. 

Mark Perry of American Enterprise Institute featured these gems from 1970:

  • Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”  (We are still going strong 47 years later, though the appearance of man buns is now a cause for concern.)
  • Paul Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 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.” (Current human population = 7.5 Billion<).
  • 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 and the Near East, 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.” (Currently, the only regions at risk for famine are the Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.…for reasons that have us much to do with civil unrest as much as climate.)

And these 7 from The Daily Caller. They sound like a progressive’s utopia. 

1: “Civilization Will End Within 15 Or 30 Years”

2: “100-200 Million People Per Year Will Be Starving To Death During The Next Ten Years”

3: “Population Will Inevitably And Completely Outstrip Whatever Small Increases In Food Supplies We Make”

4: “Demographers Agree Almost Unanimously … Thirty Years From Now, The Entire World … Will Be In Famine”

5: “In A Decade, Urban Dwellers Will Have To Wear Gas Masks To Survive Air Pollution”

6: “Childbearing [Will Be] A Punishable Crime Against Society, Unless The Parents Hold A Government License”

7: “By The Year 2000 … There Won’t Be Any More Crude Oil”