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Pess
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Reged: 09/12/07

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Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new
      #5815494 - 04/22/13 02:58 PM

Here are a few predictions from Earth Day 1970'. Most extrapolated population against a static food supply and came to dire conclusions that weren't borne out. However, I really like #9. Nitrogen filtering out light? That's one I never heard before! I think if Nitrogen build up was a problem, the bad part would be the corresponding decrease in O2 percentage...

"Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." — Harvard biologist George Wald
"We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation." — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
"Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction." — New York Times editorial
"Population 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." — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
"Most 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." — Paul Ehrlich
"It is already too late to avoid mass starvation," — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
"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." — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter
"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." — Life magazine
"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." — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
"Air pollution...is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone." — Paul Ehrlich
"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.'" — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
"[One] 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." — Newsweek magazine
"The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. 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." — Kenneth Watt

Pesse (Everyone predicts the end because, in the end, they need to justify their funding) Mist


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herrointment
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Reged: 03/12/11

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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Pess]
      #5815547 - 04/22/13 03:41 PM

Wow. Boy those eggheads just don't get it do they. I like the new idea that science is only about money. It makes it so much easier to attack it.

Edited by herrointment (04/22/13 04:14 PM)


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Pess
(Title)
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Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: herrointment]
      #5815705 - 04/22/13 04:59 PM

Try and get a grant today that proposes to show there is no global warming....

Science has a bandwagon and if you want the grants you got to be the 'flavor of the month' as far as what you expect to demonstrate with your grant money.

The Population bomb, acid rain, ozone hole, nuclear winter, global warming all are 'flavors'. I'm not saying that some represent serious concerns, but I am saying grant money favors the flavors...

I propose a grant: I want to cultivate a field of giant 'Audreys' As plants they'll fixate the acid in the soil decreasing acid rain. They'll soak up CO2 as they grow and alleviate global warming, there is a safe bet they'll consume radioactive waste as well. And as far as the population bomb is concerned? An army of Audrey's will neatly nip that problem in the bud!

Pesse (Tell them to send my grant money to my little shop.) Mist


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buddyjesus
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Reged: 07/07/10

Loc: Davison, Michigan
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Pess]
      #5815922 - 04/22/13 06:02 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/world/asia/air-pollution-linked-to-1-2-mill...

from wiki: According to the World Health Organization, hunger is the single gravest threat to the world's public health.[2] The WHO also states that malnutrition is by far the biggest contributor to child mortality, present in half of all cases.[2] Undernutrition is a contributory factor in the death of 2.6 million children every year.[3] Figures on actual starvation are difficult to come by, but according to the FAO, the less severe condition of undernourishment currently affects about 925 million people, or about 13.5% of the world population

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17E387F72E33F866 Video on world overpopulation that is a bit more current.


I think living in the western world has insulated us from real problems that are affecting other peoples. These are real problems that do need a bit of foresight(even if predictions of timelines are off) if we are to do something about them.


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Pess
(Title)
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Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5815970 - 04/22/13 06:12 PM

Quote:

I think living in the western world has insulated us from real problems that are affecting other peoples. These are real problems that do need a bit of foresight(even if predictions of timelines are off) if we are to do something about them.




There are problems and then there are 'End of civilization as we know it' problems.

Anyway you slice it, these guys were so far off the mark to make it laughable.

Let me give an extreme example of the types of arguements they use:

Bacteria reproduce at a prodigious rate. If we don't do something, within a few years the Earth will be covered by a mat of bacteria ten feet deep! End of Civilization as we know it!

Doesn't take into account common sense variables like limiting factors that keep bacteria in check.

I use that weird wild example ebcause if I delve into those specific claims from before I fear it would be too politically orientated.

Pesse (Besides, I may apply for a grant someday) Mist


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buddyjesus
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Reged: 07/07/10

Loc: Davison, Michigan
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Pess]
      #5816091 - 04/22/13 06:46 PM

I agree that many were off and probably shouldn't have been taken seriously even then. like this one. "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." — Ecologist Kenneth Watt

I just think the way things are managed politically is to things that keep the end of the world scenarios 30-50 years off! This would explain their inaction.


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Jarad
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Reged: 04/28/03

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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Pess]
      #5816406 - 04/22/13 09:30 PM

Quote:

Try and get a grant today that proposes to show there is no global warming....




Having both submitted and reviewed grants, I would neither submit nor approve a grant proposing to show that there is no global warming, nor one to show that there is global warming.

The proposal should be to measure global temperatures either currently or in the past. Funding should depend on whether the methods proposed are feasible and innovative and different than existing methods. The answer as to whether the climate is warming or not will come naturally out of making accurate measurements. The answer to the question should never be built into the proposal either way.

Quote:

The Population bomb, acid rain, ozone hole, nuclear winter, global warming all are 'flavors'.




Well, quite a few of these have turned out to be quite real. Acid rain was a serious issue that has done real visible damage. We have made successful changes to pollution to mitigate it so that it is much less of a problem now than it was 20 years ago. Same for the ozone hole - we have reduced CFC's to address the problem. The predictions of the consequences of inaction actually prompted action, which reduced the consequences. Nuclear winter is still considered a potential consequence of an all-out nuclear war, but hopefully we will never test that hypothesis. If concern about the possibility helps deter us from testing it, I would call that grant money well-spent.

As for the population bomb, it is easy to dismiss from here. Not so easy from various countries in Africa where people are starving, or from the overcrowded areas of India or Asia. And a number of countries have taken actions to reduce their population growth over the last few decades (and global population growth has slowed significantly over the last few decades, although it is still growing).

Is every prediction on target? Of course not. But I wouldn't so easily dismiss every prediction ever made on the basis of the ones that were wrong. And you can't call a prediction wrong if it contains an "if" that didn't occur (like "If we keep emitting sulfur, then acid rain will eventually kill us" when we passed pollution controls to reduce sulfur emissions precisely to prevent acid rain).

Jarad


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rockethead26
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Reged: 10/21/09

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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Jarad]
      #5817197 - 04/23/13 11:01 AM

Well answered, Jarad.

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Pess
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Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: rockethead26]
      #5817609 - 04/23/13 02:11 PM

Seriously?

Did acid rain go away just because we passed a few emission control laws?

Not likely since Industrial China puts out far more sulfer emissions today than we curbed.

My point wasn't that these are interesting real problems, my point was about how these problems become exaggerated 'flavors' driving grant awards.

And don't throw starving kids in Africa up as proof of anything. We have starving kids right here in America -- and we throw away enough food in our trash to feed them a hundred times over.

The problem isn't the world can't support the population with food production. The proble is the population just don't want to.

Pesse (stop handing out free fish and give the man a fishing pole) Mist


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Jarad
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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Pess]
      #5817794 - 04/23/13 03:29 PM

Quote:

Not likely since Industrial China puts out far more sulfer emissions today than we curbed.




Yes, and they are still having serious problems because of it.
http://www.aseanenvironment.info/Abstract/41013756.pdf
http://www.bjreview.com.cn/nation/txt/2013-01/21/content_513618_2.htm

Luckily for us, the rain removes most of the sulfur relativly locally, so their emission doesn't hurt us that much.

Jarad


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Jay_Bird
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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Jarad]
      #5818657 - 04/23/13 09:18 PM

What’s changed since 1970? For one thing there is a renewed focus on multidisciplinary approaches to natural science (is this a circling back to role models for earth and life sciences like Steno, Wallace and Darwin?). This trend helps us step back a little from intensely researched single issues or trends, to see the bigger picture and add a reality check based on broader concepts. This adds more complex and complete models for some issues and tempers single-topic alarms that might be spread without broader review.

The “ice age is coming” prediction was based on aerosols and soot, including discussion of little ice age, urban killer smogs, and the Tamboura eruption; at the same time the “greenhouse effect” prediction of possible warming was based on Arrhenius and CO2. In high school and college, before long term climate records were analyzed, I heard both discussed with the caution that soot and sulfide cooling might overpower CO2 warming, or vice versa.

Some of the environmental effects have scales in time or space that matter, like acid rain being regional more than global because of short residence time. The real damage to European and US forests from acid rain was mitigated by emission controls on the nearby 1st world factories. Scale matters in other ways too, taller smokestacks can change intense local air pollution into more dilute but more pervasive regional pollution.

The population bomb alarms overlooked the simultaneous ‘green revolution’ that enhanced agricultural output. Is there a permanent trend of increasing food output or just a higher plateau? Success in one trend can lead to new concerns too. Fertilizer use and soil erosion ‘non-point source pollution’ are hitting estuaries as a new stress on oceanic productivity -- fishing poles only work when fish can reproduce.

The "nitrogen" alarm was about NOX, oxides of nitrogen (or, nitric acid in the air) produced by high compression engines, now removed from tailpipe emmissions by catalytic converters.

There are success stories: lead out of gasoline and our kids, CFC replacement and ozone recovery, air pollution controls on cars and industry, diseases eradicated, DDT removal from food chain, increased food production, cleaner rivers, reduced waste tying recycling with manufacturing…


There are also new trends to watch: antibiotic resistance, pervasive endocrine disruptors, increased monoculture farming and vulnerability, ongoing extinction rate including bee and bat pollinator decline, and plenty more that deserve discussion, not dismissal. Not “sky is falling”, but not “head in sand” either.

Much more and I'll veer into politics or societal values and leave the TOS.

Edited by Jay_Bird (04/24/13 11:51 AM)


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5818727 - 04/23/13 09:59 PM

Good answers, Jarad and Jay. The ecological concerns of the 1970's were real, and they were serious. Had this nation, along with most of the other civilized nations of the world, not adopted a more environmentally aware approach, those problems would be far worse today than they are.

One other trend that's helped since then is the declining birth rate that Jarad mentioned. We're still a long way from zpg, but even the developing world has started to cut back, a little. I don't want to get political, but nothing lowers birth rates like equal rights for women, universal education, and economic prosperity.

And we're a long way from being out of the woods yet. I don't think the situation is any less critical than it was in 1970. We've dealt with some concerns, neglected others, and had new ones blindside us.


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Unknownastron
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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5829383 - 04/29/13 12:04 AM

As Jared and Jay correctly point out some of these dire predictions were far from the target because something was DONE about reducing the risk. Most places in the USA and Western Europe have cleaner air and water than they did in 1970. Smog and ozone alerts in many big cities were far more common than today. As for predictions of running out of oil, that has not happened but there have been periodic shortages. Remember "gas lines" from the 1070s? If nothing had been done the most dire predictions probably still would not have happened, but things would be worse than they are today.
Clear skies and clean glass,
Mike


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' [Re: Unknownastron]
      #5830568 - 04/29/13 03:48 PM

Quote:

As for predictions of running out of oil, that has not happened but there have been periodic shortages. Remember "gas lines" from the 1070s?




We did indeed find a lot of new oil reservoirs, and developed technology to extend the life of those we had, but anyone who remembers those days also knows that what we did find is far more expensive to recover than what we had at the time. We also increased our fuel efficiency significantly to reduce the increase in our usage.

Only a few of the fears of that era were actually unfounded. The rest have been mitigated because we actually did take action, either preventative or corrective. I find it a strange psychological phenomenon that we can sit on the success of those mitigations and then point back and say "Those that influenced us to change our suicidal behaviours were WRONG! See? We're still alive!"

And of course, many of those actions we took, while helpful, only have served to delay the day of reckoning, not to eliminate it. Some have introduced new problems of their own. This is not something that we can forget about.


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Kon Dealer
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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Pess]
      #5852392 - 05/10/13 05:45 PM

Sounds remarkably like the c*** we are being fed today by the MSM and politicians keen to part us with our mooney..

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Joad
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5852427 - 05/10/13 06:04 PM

A timely article.

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Doug D.
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Re: Earth Day Predictions circa 1970' new [Re: Joad]
      #5852639 - 05/10/13 07:52 PM

And the number for today is......: 400 ppm

Expect to hear a lot of noise about this in the days to come...


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