Ehrlich 1968 : 65 Million Americans To Starve During The 1980s

Ehrlich was Holdren’s closest associate. Holdren’s is Obama’s science adviser. Obama is president of the US.

Ehrlich forecasted that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989, and by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million. Ehrlich’s predictions about England were gloomier: “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

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68 Responses to Ehrlich 1968 : 65 Million Americans To Starve During The 1980s

  1. Mike Davis says:

    England does not exist! The people who claim to live there are imaginary! 😉

  2. Andy Weiss says:

    For virtual Enghish children, virtual snow is a thing from the virtual past.

  3. Dave N says:

    I can’t imagine Ehrlich ever winning a bet, even if he took even money for a multitude of his predictions. I suspect he doesn’t gamble, or is in a huge amount of debt.

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Got a citation? I’ll wager Ehrlich had several qualifiers on that “prediction,” if that’s in fact what it was.

    Without a citation, it’s just gossip. With a citation to Walter Williams, it’s worse than gossip — it’s a probable smear.

    You’ve never read Ehrlich, I take it.

    • Al Gored says:

      Why is the price of corn so high?

    • suyts says:

      Lol, now Ed, you know you’re cherry-picking a specific point in time. The prices aren’t rising because there’s any shortage of either oil or corn.

      • Al Gored says:

        Ed does cherry pick. Learned that in the discussion of Lake Powell.

        Makes we wonder about the price of cherries…

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Yeah, the 20th century is a specific point in time.

        Yeah, Julian Simon was wrong about corn, too.

        Yeah, whenever Gored loses out and knows it, he tries to change the subject. (Nota Bene: Just as before, you’re provided with the links, and I expect you to read them. I hope you’ll read them all, and not cherry pick snippets to snipe about — triumph of hope over experience.) If you have a citation to back the point, could you produce it? The Lake Powell discussion is another thread.

    • hyperzombie says:

      Corn is within 5% of the inflation adjusted price compared to 1970. April 1970 corn 137.75/100 bu, (736.94 inflation adjusted). Corn closed on friday for 756.50/100bu. Wheat is a bit lower in inflation adj. dollars, beef is over 50% lower and pork is over 60% lower. Wow, no wonder my brother the cattle rancher is so poor.

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    How is it a cherry pick to ask you for a citation which, it turns out, you cannot produce?

    How is it a cherry pick to point out that, contrary to the insinuation of the Lake Powell post, the lake is still way, way below drought level?

    Noting the facts is not “cherry picking,” at least, not in honest discussion, not outside the Bizarro World.

    Where are you guys posting from, anyway?

    • Al Gored says:

      Well Ed, I’m posting from a place where picking one of seven readings of river flow, which just happens to be by far the lowest, and using that ONE example to support your argument is called cherry picking.

      What do you call it?

    • Don’t picnic along the Colorado River this June.

    • suyts says:

      WTF Ed? How do you go from prices of oil to Lake Powell? Try to stay relevant.

      The prices of corn and oil are close to all time highs right now. I am sure you know it is caused by 1, the unrest in the mid-east,(and much speculation) and 2, the reliance on corn for our ethanol. If you disagree with these assertions please state as much and then show me how you believe this isn’t the case. I’m prepared to engage in either. As to your Lake Powell, stay on that thread, you have your handful there. (Yes, it’s getting better, but it still sucks and its all your SUVs fault……sigh)

  6. Paul H says:

    Oh dear Ed. You really are struggling today.

    If you really think the nutter Ehrlich had qualifiers, go and buy the book and prove it.

    I really am amazed sometimes how desperate some people are to defend the indefensible at any cost. It really does make you look ridiculous.

    While you are at it, try to defend this comment from Ehrlich as well :-

    The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.

    —Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)

    or this

    In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.

    —Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)

    or this

    Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.

    —Paul Ehrlich in (1976)

    • Ed Darrell says:

      Yeah, I didn’t think you guys had any citations. Now we know for sure you don’t.

      Steve made the original claim, can’t back it. Now Paul H. joins in, with a half dozen more he can’t back.

      Why not stick to the facts? Don’t you ever worry that someone will, indeed, have a copy of the book some day? What will you do then?

      • omnologos says:

        Not sure if Paul H can or cannot back his citations, but The Population Bomb has Look Inside in Amazon and for example the first quote (“the battle is over”) is 99.9% straight out of the Prologue of that book.

        Also from page 53 (Scenario I, in the form of a short story. The year in the story is 1983): “Even with rationing, a lot of Americans are going to starve to death unless this climate change reverses […] Almost a billion human beings starved to death in the last decade”

        Note his use of “climate change” in Schneideresque terms, as Ehrlich didn’t know if it was going to get cooler or warmer and so just hedged his words.

      • omnologos says:

        The wikipedia entry for Ehrlich is full of quotes by The Man. Anybody not called Ed, just go there and enjoy the reading.

  7. It’d be far easier if Ed would provide meaningful quotes on stuff about which Ehrlich has been shown correct by the test of time

    • Ed Darrell says:

      You can’t provide a single citation to verify that any quote you’ve given is real. Bluffs are expected at poker, but poor form in science.

      You can’t verify your claims, can you.

      • I’ve published those links many times. Do you know how to use the search bar?

      • Ed Darrell says:

        I know how to use the search bar — you refuse to give a citation to the book that works. Population Bomb is 199 pages, with several different scenarios laid out that I think you are misconstruing as “predictions,” despite Ehrlich’s clear warning in 1968 that they are not predictions.

        I suppose I can find the quotes — but I gotta tell you, nothing you’ve quoted shows up yet. According to my copy of the book, you’ve made the quotes up whole cloth.

        Now, I asked for citations. We got more “quotes” with vague references.

        Do you know high school English citation rules? Do you at least have a chapter number, if you don’t have a page?

        Without citations, I can confirm that nothing you’ve claimed is quoted in the book, so far. I don’t have time for fools’ errands, and I resent your disregard of propriety and manners in simply failing to provide a simple citation.

  8. From the horse’s mouth, a chilling example of what it means to live a life of pure Academia, where reputation among colleagues is far more important than having a clue about what one’s talking about:

    Q: Many of the predictions you made in “The Population Bomb” about overpopulation resulting in mass starvation did not come to pass, which led to a lot of criticism of your work. How will this criticism affect the agenda you’ve set for MAHB?

    A. Well I’m hoping the MAHB isn’t just about Paul Ehrlich, and it isn’t. We have some very fine social scientists getting involved already, like Bob Brulle from Drexel University and Gene Rosa from Washington State University.

    And yes, I expect to have more critics. But my critics don’t tend to be in the scientific community. Scientists live on their reputation with other scientists, and there, my colleagues are all extremely supportive of the positions I take. When Anne and I write books, we always have them reviewed by the best people in the world, like Ken Arrow, who’s a Nobel laureate in economics, and on climate change, people like John Holdren.

    That doesn’t mean that Anne and I don’t make mistakes. You cannot avoid making mistakes if you deal with huge issues, where you don’t personally know every element of them. But we do the best we can to avoid them.

    This is not “science”. This is a hellish version of Emile Zola’s bourgeoisie, absolutely inward-looking and where everybody is a prisoner of everybody else. Now I understand why they’re impervious to novel theories.

  9. Sadly, Ed is too busy to follow this thread, but am sure we can all agree from Wikiquote that Ehrlich did say something profoundly silly, at least once 😎

  10. Ed Darrell says:

    I don’t know — Wikiquote has Ehrlich carefully qualifying what he said.

    He didn’t say there are “too many people.” He said, instead, “there are too many rich people,” noting how rich people use and abuse resources much more than poor people.

    Which statement there do you claim is “profoundly silly,” Maurizio?

    And, are you at least nervous that your quotes above do not appear in that list of “sourced” quotes?

  11. omnologos says:

    There is enough evidence by now to state with absolute certainty that Ed Darrell has never, ever, read Paul R Ehrlich, either before this thread or as a result of the numerous links, quotes, and linked quotes provided.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      There is not a single citation here from Maurizio, nor Steve, nor anyone else, to suggest that they are not fictionalizing their entire claims against Ehrlich — none of them have read Ehrlich well enough to even point to the right book, let alone the right page. None have any knowledge about Ehrlich’s qualifications on any of the claimed quotations — and their grasp of what Ehrlich actually said is so weak that they use Wikiquote as a source — and it denies their claims.

      There is enough evidence by now to state with absolute certainty that these claims against Ehrlich are almost wholly imaginary — Maurizio and Steve have failed to provide citations for any of their claimed quotes. We can’t check ’em, and it’s clear they haven’t read ’em.

      • omnologos says:

        Ed – can’t you read the wikiquote page? Can’t you read the New York Times? Can’t you read the wikipedia page?

        You asked for quotes, I have provided quotes, and all you can reply is “you haven’t read Ehrlich well enough”. So you didn’t want quotes, did you?

        For Paul’s sake, the guy himself admits he got some stuff wrong. Why can’t you?

    • Ed Darrell says:

      I asked for a citation, Maurizio. You didn’t give any. You gave more claims, without citations. I asked for more citations.

      I’m trying to confirm what you said. So far, no luck. From my copy, it appears you’ve made up the quotes, or you’ve been victimized by someone else who did.

      Don’t yell at me for your lack of scholarship, please. Steve’s doing a good enough job of flailing on that score.

      Y’all have made some serious claims against Paul Ehrlich. And now we discover that you didn’t give him the courtesy of reading what he wrote, nor even the courtesy of confirming that he wrote what you claim?

  12. omnologos says:

    Here’s Ehrlich mentioned alongside his 22.6-million prediction, with the relevant citation of “The Progressive”, sadly not easy to find on the ‘net.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      Your source — YOUR source, Maurizio:

      “In 1970, as the first Earth Day approached, Paul Ehrlich wrote an article in The Progressive as a fictitius report to the U.S. President looking back from the year 2000.”

      Fictitious? You’re giving us fiction, pretending it was prediction?

      You’ve never read Ehrlich before this moment.

      • omnologos says:

        Yeah, he liked to make up fictional stories to communicate a message: namely, tens of millions of dead in the near future.

        I have no intention to squabble about 22.6 or 21.5. You’re more Ehrlichian than Ehrlich.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      No, let’s not squabble about numbers — let’s focus on the “fictitious.” These are not predictions as Steve presented and you insisted.

      Let’s focus on that.

  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Remember, these are just possibilities, not predictions. We can be sure that none of them will come true exactly as stated, but they describe the kinds of events that might occur in the next few decades.

    Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (revised), Sierra Club/Ballentine Books, 1968 and 1971, page 49

    • omnologos says:

      Is this the same Paul R Ehrlich in Grist?

      As you know, many of the predictions you made in The Population Bomb didn’t come true. Have you suffered any criticism or embarrassment because of this? — Charles Sommers, Madison, Wis.

      Some things I predicted have not come to pass. For instance, starvation has been less extensive than I (or rather the agriculturalists I consulted) expected. But it’s still horrific, with some 600 million people very hungry and billions under- or malnourished. What I predicted about disease and climate change was essentially right on. And of course the movement the “bomb” helped to fuel softened some of the impacts. Many people said not to worry — that marvelous technological fixes would make it possible to take wonderful care of even 5 billion people. We now have 6.3 — you judge how well technology is doing. Bottom line: substantial criticism, little embarrassment.

      Note from the following paragraph how Ehrlich makes a distinction regarding population figures, about which he does claim he has never made any “prediction”.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Same one — same guy who qualified what he wrote 8 ways from hell.

        You guys went straight to hell, didn’t bother to read the qualifications.

        When you’re lost, it pays to stop and ask directions, or look for a map. Clearly you’re lost in Ehrlichiana. I can’t pull you out, if we can’t figure out where you are.

        I didn’t put you in this fix — you guys are the ones who started making fantastic claims about how evil Ehrlich is based on quotes you didn’t verify, from sources you didn’t read and apparently don’t possess.

        You think there’s no starvation in the world? You think Ehrlich grossly overstated the problems? How can you say that, when you don’t know what he said?

  14. omnologos says:

    And there’s more!!

    The biggest tactical error in The Bomb was the use of scenarios, stories designed to help one think about the future. Although we clearly stated that they were not predictions and that “we can be sure that none of them will come true as stated,’ (p. 72) – their failure to occur is often cited as a failure of prediction. In honesty, the scenarios were way off, especially in their timing (we underestimated the resilience of the world system). But they did deal with future issues that people in 1968 should have been thinking about

    The Population Bomb certainly had its flaws, which is to be expected. Science never produces certainty. None- theless we are all, scientists or not, always attempting to predict the future (will the stock go up or down? Will he be a good husband? Will it rain later?). And when we plan, we do the best we can.

    Actually, the more I research this topic the more I respect Ehrlich, for having shown intellectually honesty.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      Actually, the more I research this topic the more I respect Ehrlich, for having shown intellectually honesty.

      Exactly the point.

      • omnologos says:

        the point is that Ehrlich was and is in the prediction business and his intellectual honesty lies in the fact that he admits it. You haven’t yet.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Ehrlich wasn’t in the prediction business. He’s a population biologist — entomology, generally. He observed that population dynamics tend to work on all species (no one’s indicated any differently in more than 30 years).

        Ehrlich warned of population crashes, with millions, or billions of people dying because of stupid stuff we did.

        There are a lot of brownies yelling that Rachel Carson is a mass murderer because of millions of malaria deaths. Of course, she did nothing but work to decrease those deaths — but that doesn’t stop the complaints.

        Which is it: Are there millions of unnecessary deaths, or not?

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Whatever the details, it’s very clear that the charge against Ehrlich in the post is dead wrong. In four days you can’t find anything even close to a quote like that.

        Just admit error and move on. I’d say stick with what you know, but that would be fruitless.

  15. omnologos says:

    congratulations Ed. We have a direct quote (Grist’s) with PRE stating “some things I have predicted did not come to pass”. Despite that, you are unmoved on your “just scenarios” hairsplitting, even if the Ehrlichs didn’t shy from admitting those were “way off’ too. This demonstrates that nothing will ever make you change your mind, therefore invalidating any further attempts at making you agree with Ehrlich himself.

    btw I doubt the original point was about “evil” Ehrlich. Foolish, perhaps, and obdurate, but not evil.

    • Ed Darrell says:

      Congratulations, Maurizio. You’ve managed to take a direct quote, which is usually considered valid evidence, and turn it instead into a whole cloth misrepresentation.

      “Some things I predicted did not come to pass” is a far cry from “I predicted 65 million deaths and was wrong.”

      Despite your — it’s not “hairsplitting” to turn an accurate statement into a whole cloth — meat cleavering of your own case, this demonstrates that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Steve tried to smear Ehrlich — what in God’s name for? — and you joined in.

      But neither of you has the goods to back up your smear. And the more we dig, the more it becomes clear that the original post was a whole cloth misrepresentation of what Ehrlich really wrote, at best.

      At worst it’s complete fiction.

      Ehrlich didn’t say what was claimed, and it’s unfair, unkind, and grotesquely inaccurate, to claim he did.

      I imagine, though, you’ll never agree with anything in Ehrlich’s books. In the forward to the 1971 edition, David Brower wrote:

      Mankind’s inalienable rights:
      The right to eat
      The right to drink pure water
      The right to breathe clean air
      The right to decent, uncrowded shelter
      The right to enjoy natural beauty
      The right to avoid pesticide poisoning
      The right to freedom from thermonuclear war
      The right to limit families
      The right to have grandchildren

      You guys don’t agree with any of that, do you.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Oops. That wasn’t Brower’s forward. That was Ehrlich himself, edited slightly — Population Bomb, page 171.

      • I’m curious. Do you believe in the Holocaust? You seem to find historical records unconvincing.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Gee, Steve, you’re the one who claims holocausts like those claimed here can’t happen. You seem to find it unreasonable to provide a source for your smear against Ehrlich.

        Retract the post. Williams made the claim, but Ehrlich didn’t say it. You should be more accurate than that.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Where did McKibben say anything on the topic?

      • hyperzombie says:

        Most of this way too vague, and borderline crazy.

        Mankind’s inalienable rights:
        The right to eat (eat what? what if you wanted to eat poison?)
        The right to drink pure water (pure water? 100% H2O is very expensive and corrosive to plumbing)
        The right to breathe clean air (how clean? my definition of clean or yours)
        The right to decent, uncrowded shelter (this is crazy, should everyone live on an acreage?)
        The right to enjoy natural beauty (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how do you quantify this?)
        The right to avoid pesticide poisoning (OK, unless you want to eat it, see above)
        The right to freedom from thermonuclear war ( everyone has this option now, move to Greenland or Antarctica)
        The right to limit families (Limit families? your own family or can I limit other families? The neighbour kids make lots of noise can I limit them?)
        The right to have grandchildren (how the heck can you do this? force your kids to have babies? send them to the government impregnation centre?)

  16. Ed Darrell says:

    The only source I can find for this claim is Walter Williams. It appears the only copy of any work in which Ehrlich may have said what is claimed is in Williams’ personal gluteal library.

    You should retract the claim, Mr. Goddard.

  17. Pingback: 24 Hours of Climate Reality: Gore-a-thon – Hour 10 | Watts Up With That?

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