Political Climate
May 16, 2019
The Weird Reality of World Climate Policy

May 12, 2019
18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970

Carpe Diem

Monday, April 22 was Earth Day 2019 and time for my annual Earth Day post on spectacularly wrong predictions around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970…

In the May 2000 issue of Reason Magazine, award-winning science correspondent Ronald Bailey wrote an excellent article titled “Earth Day, Then and Now: The planet’s future has never looked better. Here’s why” to provide some historical perspective on the 30th anniversary of Earth Day. In that article, Bailey noted that around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, and in the years following, there was a “torrent of apocalyptic predictions” and many of those predictions were featured in his Reason article. Well, it’s now the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, and a good time to ask the question again that Bailey asked 19 years ago: How accurate were the predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970? The answer: “The prophets of doom were not simply wrong, but spectacularly wrong,” according to Bailey. Here are 18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:

1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “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. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “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.”

6. 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.”

7. “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.

8. 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.”

9. 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...”

10. 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.”

11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution..is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

13. 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.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946...now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

14. 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.’”

15. 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.

16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “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.”

17. In 1975, Paul 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.”

18. 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.”

Mark Perry: Let’s keep those spectacularly wrong predictions from the first Earth Day 1970 in mind when we’re bombarded in the next few days with media hype, and claims like this from the Earth Day website:

Global sea levels are rising at an alarmingly fast rate - 6.7 inches in the last century alone and going higher. Surface temperatures are setting new heat records about each year. The ice sheets continue to decline, glaciers are in retreat globally, and our oceans are more acidic than ever. We could go on...which is a whole other problem.

The majority of scientists are in agreement that human contributions to the greenhouse effect are the root cause. Essentially, gases in the atmosphere - such as methane and CO2 -’trap heat and block it from escaping our planet.

So what happens next? More droughts and heat waves, which can have devastating effects on the poorest countries and communities. Hurricanes will intensify and occur more frequently. Sea levels could rise up to four feet by 2100 ‘ and that’s a conservative estimate among experts.

Climate preacher/scientist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez predicted recently that “We’re like...the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” You can add that to the spectacularly wrong predictions made this year around the time of Earth Day 2019.

Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day 2030: “There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future and the present never looked so bleak.” In other words, the hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the virtue signalling “environmental grievance hustlers” like AOC.

May 05, 2019
Sweden’s Lack of Electricity Capacity Is Threatening Growth


A shift toward renewables is overwhelming the nation’s grid, leaving a potential Olympic Games in 2026 relying on.

Global trade wars and weakening export markets are not the only potential dampers on Sweden’s growth. There’s also a homegrown problem: a lack of power capacity.

The dire situation stems from the closing of the nation’s oldest reactors and a shift to wind at a time when the grid is already struggling to keep up with demand in major cities. The shortage, which impacts the nation’s main urban areas, is threatening everything from the rollout of a 5G network in the capital to investments in giant data halls and new subway lines. It could even derail Stockholm’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

It’s a stark change from the decades of cheap, surplus electricity that propelled the Nordic region’s biggest economy into one of the richest and most industrialized nations in the world. Now, electricity supplies in urban areas can’t keep up and that could exacerbate a slowdown already impacted by global uncertainty and Brexit.

“Citizens and companies are worried, irritated and even angry,” said Jonas Kamleh, a strategist for the City of Malmo, the nation’s third biggest. “How could this situation arise in the engineering nation of Sweden?”

The answer is a very ambitious green agenda. Sweden is halfway through a plan to replace the output from four reactors in the industrial south with thousands of wind turbines in the north. But grid connections, some dating back to the 1950s, aren’t up to scratch so the power isn’t shipped to where it’s really needed. And to make matters worse, city demand is surging at a faster-than-expected pace because of the electrification of everything from transport to heating.

The capacity issues could hit an economy already heading south after years of strong growth buoyed by household spending and exports. The Swedish National Institute of Economic Research said last month the economy is slowing and forecast GDP growth of just 1.5 percent this year compared with 2.3 percent in 2018.

The abundance of carbon-free power from hydro, nuclear and wind has attracted billions of dollars in the past decade from some of the world’s biggest companies from Amazon.com Inc. to Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. With the major urban areas out of bounds, it will be harder to attract the same level of investment in the future.

“A lot of businesses are rather energy-intensive and if we do not have enough capacity there is a potential chance it will impact long-term growth,” said Ake Gustafsson, senior economist at Swedbank AB. ‘Computer giants such as Amazon are global companies that can place their data centers anywhere.”

Source: Forecasts from Swedish National Institute of Economic Research Slowing Economy - Sweden’s economic growth has peaked, according to country’s NIER institute

Stockholm shouldn’t expect any new cables that can handle an increased load for at least another decade, according to local grid operator Ellevio AB. That means the company will have to start rejecting new big users as early as this autumn.

The lack of power threatens everything from expanding the subway network to new highways and residential areas. The Olympic bid submitted in January included new stadiums and housing for the athletes north of the city.

The Stockholm Are 2026 campaign said it had taken the shortage into account and planned for reserve generators at stadiums in its budget.

Neither the Olympics nor a new mobile network are included in the latest grid forecasts. The vast amount of data generated by 5G use from self-driving vehicles to domestic appliances to sensors for roads and railways will need to be supported by data centers that would further increase demand in the city of about two million people.

“We have reached a point where we no longer can connect all the changes the society is facing,” said Henrik Bergstrom, Ellevio’s head of public affairs. “It is not up to us to decide who will be denied access to the grid, but without local power generation and grid investments we will have problems.”

Vasteras, a city about an hour’s drive west of Stockholm, lost out on a $4.5 billion battery factory that Northvolt AB is planning. It may instead be built in Skelleftea close to the Arctic circle where there’s plenty of power.

“We want to continue to develop the industry in our region and we need the power capacity to do so,” said Anders Teljeback, the Vasteras mayor. “We were expected to have to wait for ten years for more capacity.”

Magnus Hall, chief executive officer of Vattenfall AB, says regulation has to change and red tape removed to make speedy investments and upgrades possible.

“We have a very negative view as it impacts the possibility for expansion of both cities and electrification, which we need to continue to invest in,” Hall said in an interview.

Green Energy Shift - Actual and expected annual output in Sweden. Source: Sweden Energy Agency

The challenge of moving from nuclear to wind is too big to handle for Svenska Kraftnat, the company which runs the high-voltage grid connecting areas and cities.  It says it will need help from both politicians and the industry.

The nuclear shutdowns and energy policy in general has risen to the top of the political agenda in the past few months. Two of the main opposition parties want to reverse the decision to close two of Vattenfall’s reactors at Ringhals, even though the Swedes voted to phase out nuclear in a 1980 referendum. The utility says the decision to close them is now irreversible.

While the government recognizes that a lack of power will hit the main cities hard, it has so far not budged on its stance on nuclear power or environmental taxes on power production.

“It’s a little bit exaggerated because many companies ask for more power in many different places,” Energy Minister Anders Ygeman said. “But of course we need to improve the transmission capacity between north and south, and we need to bring about more power production closer to the consumers.”

For the angry folk of Malmo, Ygeman’s comments offer little hope. The city was already on the brink of blackouts last winter. And there will be even less power in the future if EON SE goes ahead and shuts a local gas plant if higher environmental taxes are introduced as planned in August.

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