Thursday, December 30, 2010

Environmental Predictions That Didn't Quite Work Out

It is always entertaining to look at predictions from the past, and see how far off they were.  In the 1920s, the assumption was that by the 1950s, we would all be getting around in flying cars.  Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward describes how by the year 2001, capitalism would have completely disappeared (at the instigation of the capitalists, who would see the advantages of socialism), replaced with a democratic socialism where everyone ate in common mess halls, owned everything in common, and there was almost no violence anymore. 

Many of you have already seen this April 28, 1975 Newsweek article about the crisis that was about to destroy civilization from global cooling.  Here's the other lamestream media article on the subject, from June 24, 1974 Time, with the same crisis mongering:
As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html#ixzz19duFZHQb
Maxim Lott puts together this collection of environmental predictions from years past that haven't worked out so well.  I am actually a bit more sympathetic to those making predictions about social trends, because those are not based on science.  When scientists make apocalyptic predictions based on claims of science, I expect them to hit their marks, or have a darn good explanation for why not.

2 comments:

patrokov said...

>>Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward describes how by the year 2001, capitalism would have completely disappeared (at the instigation of the capitalists, who would see the advantages of socialism), replaced with a democratic socialism where everyone ate in common mess halls, owned everything in common, and there was almost no violence anymore.

Okay, so he was wrong about the social democracy, and his timing was off, but he was bang up right that capitalism would be replaced at the behest of the "capitalists." Witness Bush's, "I had to kill the free market to protect the free market." Look at the 2011 ban on incandescent light bulbs at the behest of GE. Look at the nationalization of the mortgage industry. Look at Obama's public-private parnerships. We are now almost fully corporatist (fascist).

Ed Darrell said...

But in 1974, with the rise in particulates and aerosols and the Clean Air Act not yet fully implemented, the trend WAS toward global cooling.

We cleaned up particulates and aerosols, especially light-scattering sulfates, and that left greenhouse gases as the last set of mostly uncontrolled pollutants.

This is a demonstration that we can clean the air, and prevent climate change. We've already taken such action before, successfully.