Defusing the mythical fear of climate change

cartoon-pope-obamaPope Francis, during his recent tour of the United States and throughout his encyclical document Laudato Si, has proclaimed the continued use of fossil fuels to be no different than committing a deliberate mortal sin. But how has humanity managed to hang on this past century without accommodating every apocalyptic thesis put forth by progressive scientists and politicians?

The reality is that the current wave of climate change hysteria, blamed on human activity, is no different than prior floods of generalized pandemonium based on little more than predictive speculation. First let’s travel back in time briefly, to another era and another fear that never came to pass – namely, the “population bomb” of the 1970s.

In 1968, a well-credentialed scientist with a background in butterflies published a bestselling book laying out the disastrous future of the planet. As some may remember, this era was a “boom time” for post-apocalyptic visions, within both the scientific community and the world of imaginative artists, writers, and filmmakers. Not unlike today, the “dystopian” genre of fiction soared in popularity.

Movies like Soylent Green encouraged a broad distrust of the government and of one’s fellow man. Indeed, this biologist – a man named Paul R. Ehrlich – was instrumental in effectively pushing the concept of population control upon the highest levels of American culture. His book, called The Population Bomb, was enough to swindle intellectuals and politicians alike.

Of course, it is much more difficult to convince people they’ve been fooled then it is to actually fool them. For a time, Erlich sold everyone on the idea that the world stood on the brink of end times, because there was simply no way to feed the rapidly growing global population. The first line in his book—”The battle to feed all of humanity is over”—was a grim prediction, but it didn’t come true.

Quite the opposite. Per capita food production has been increasing steadily for more than 50 years, and America now stands in the midst of an obesity crisis. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet managed to distribute this wealth equally across the globe, but improvement through human engineering and ingenuity can confront these challenges head on.

Ehrlich and Pope Francis share a remarkable affinity for spreading scientific misinformation. Francis’ hyperbolic forecasts, comparable to the Obama administration’s declarations stating that global warming is now a threat to national security, endanger future endeavors both at home and abroad. According to Direct Energy, increases in life expectancy, literacy, education, and prosperity the world over are all directly correlated with energy use. The energy provided by the burning of fossil fuels has enabled us to live longer and more comfortably while continuing to grow the global population.

When Pope Francis warned that the use of these resources was turning the planet to “filth”, FrontPageMag countered by saying, “If it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160% since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8% since the 1920s. It’s an odd kind of ‘mistreatment’ of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009.”

When the Pope released his encyclical document at the beginning of the summer, Erlich argued that his overall “green” message was undermined by a failure to recognize the need for contraception and family planning. Choosing to ignore the “global demographic dilemma” was, in his eyes, the same as ignoring the situation altogether. Erlich himself continues to cling to his apocalyptic, end-times stance regarding the future of the world.

In a NYTimes report essentially debunking his initial theories, he remained as delusional as ever. “The idea that every woman should have as many babies as she wants is, to me, exactly the same kind of idea as everybody ought to be permitted to throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s back yard as they want.” This type of inflammatory language does little to encourage cooperation.

Dr. Erlich’s forecasts once predicted “utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity” and included the idea that England would be gone by the year 2000, its citizens succumbing to starvation on a mass scale. India, already overcrowded, would meet a certain doom. Millions of Americans would also be dead before the end of the 1970s. Attempting to avert these apocalyptic prognostications would prove impossible, despite the implementation of any “crash programs.” In short, the situation was hopeless.

Followers of Erlich’s early warnings held fast to the belief that his predictions would come true. Among them were President Richard Nixon, who, upon coming to office in 1969, approved U.S. support for the establishment of the U.N. Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). This organization allowed a vast sum of American taxpayer dollars to fund the global population control effort, a movement which would eventually come to wreak havoc on an unforeseeable scale. Today, the myth of overpopulation is as dangerous as ever, but it has been replaced by another, equally harmful and falsified phobia – the mythical fear of “climate change.”  

Science is quite useful for documenting existing natural phenomena, but it cannot and should not be utilized as a tool for predicting the future. Erlich’s population predictions fell flat, but not in time to prevent the damage for which they are now responsible. Today, the words of the Pope and the mainstream media should remind us to wake up – lest history repeat itself.