XR and the Deep Adaptation Agenda

extinction rebellin activists reaching out to normal peopleWhen Dr. Gail Bradbrook, one of the co-founders of Extinction Rebellion, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme earlier this month, she said something I found interesting:

“… I don’t want to wind people up, and I do apologise for the inconvenience caused, but you can hear the emotion in my voice – I’ve two boys, 10 and 13, and they won’t have enough food to eat in a few years’ time. Do you understand that?”

It wasn’t picked up on by anyone in the studio – host Richard Madeley was more focussed on the disruption to ordinary people’s lives in the capital – but it was a somewhat bizarre statement, even for a climate activist.

She was stating, as a matter of fact, that her children would not have enough to eat “in a few years’ time” and implying that it would be due to climate change.

Where has this idea come from? Not from orthodox climate science, although the notion that climate change (and overpopulation) will cause food shortages in the future is of course part of the orthodoxy. For example, the IPCC’s 2014 report (Fifth Assessment, WGII AR5) says: “Global temperature increases of ~4°C or more above late-20th-century levels, combined with increasing food demand, would pose large risks to food security globally and regionally”. But that isn’t “in a few years’ time”, by any stretch of the imagination.

An answer can be found in the writings of sociologist Jem Bendell, who is a Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria and whose 2018 paper “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” has been very influential in the Extinction Rebellion movement. He is a proponent of the “Deep Adaptation Agenda”, an associate of environmental groups such as the Dark Mountain Project and also, incidentally, has been a speech writer for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

This paper (which failed peer review, for what that’s worth) has been downloaded and read by at least 100,000 people, according to Vice magazine this year and has been apparently causing many susceptible readers to tumble into a downward spiral of depression and despair. One reader is quoted as having experienced a “mix of heartbreaking sadness and extreme anger” and says “I guess in some ways it felt like I was diagnosed with a terminal illness”.

The abstract of the Deep Adaptation paper starts as follows:

“The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide readers with an opportunity to reassess their work and life in the face of an inevitable near-term social collapse due to climate change.”

And on page 13 of the paper, it says:

“We do not know for certain how disruptive the impacts of climate change will be or where will be most affected, especially as economic and social systems will respond in complex ways. But the evidence is mounting that the impacts will be catastrophic to our livelihoods and the societies that we live within. Our norms of behaviour, that we call our “civilisation,” may also degrade. When we contemplate this possibility, it can seem abstract. The words I ended the previous paragraph with may seem, subconsciously at least, to be describing a situation to feel sorry about as we witness scenes on TV or online. But when I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life. With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbours for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.”

One can understand why vulnerable individuals might have felt somewhat low, after reading this.

So how will this “inevitable near-term social collapse” happen? The paper lists various worst-case scenarios and suggests that a runaway concatenation of these will bring about the end.

One cause will be an ice-free Arctic, predicted to happen “one summer in the next few years” by Peter Wadhams (according to the author, one “of the most eminent climate scientists in the world”) which will “likely increase by 50% the warming caused by the CO2 produced by human activity”. There might be the possibility of a “near-term massive release of methane from the Arctic Ocean”. And there’s also extreme weather events, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, biodiversity loss, etc., etc.

As for food shortages, the paper mentions climate models (under “mainstream projected climate change scenarios”) that “predict a decline of normal agriculture, including the compromising of mass production of grains in the northern hemisphere and intermittent disruption to rice production in the tropics”. However, these are longer-term projections for the 2050s, 2080s and the end of the century. Developed-world children going hungry in “a few years’ time” implies that there will be acute shortages in the 2020s, which is just around the corner!

And that’s the thing about the Deep Adaptation paper – it bundles together a few worst-case scenarios and alarming medium to long-term projections and somehow brings everything forward in time in an attempt to make the case for a practically imminent collapse of civilisation. As to whether this is inevitable, Bendell does state several times that “we do not know”, and that “people describe different degrees of certainty” but throughout the paper, he stresses the possibility of a breakdown of society again and again, as if it was indeed the most likely outcome. And on page 19 he voices his personal opinion.

“Currently, I have chosen to interpret the information as indicating inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe and possible extinction.”

Clearly, Jem Bendell has gone beyond the bounds of normal climate science in his paper, which has helped to whip up such a sense of urgency among the Extinction Rebellion people and their followers. Have any climatologists responded? Well, according to one science blogger, Michael Mann has seen the paper – and dismissed it with a single, uncomplimentary four-letter word.

So, if orthodox climate science has plenty in it to be sceptical about, “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” represents a whole new stratum of dubious claims below that, even. It’s something to bear in mind, perhaps, the next time we hear an XR activist proclaim that today’s well-fed Western schoolchildren will be facing starvation before they reach adulthood.


  1. What a sad case.
    I hope child protection services can intervene and get this woman the mental health treatment she desperately needs before she hurts her children and herself.


  2. The other culprit of this Hysteria is Dr Rupert Read of the Green Party both are tied up with the Stuart Scott UN Carbon Trading alarmism front as well.




    Join up all the dots and there you will find Al Gore and his Carbon Neutral FootPrints and fingerprints firmly all over the Till receipts.


  3. Elsewhere in CliScep this morning I’ve commented upon the meteoric rise of terms like “climate emergency” and “climate crisis” which appeared to me to have no rational explanation. Thank you Alex for providing at least a partial explanation in the form of Jem Bendell. This malignant influence is seemingly also responsible for contaminating Jaime’s “terrorist-supporting, neo marxist.


  4. I have long felt the entire Climate Crisis gang represent a religion. This crosses over into cult. This is now a cult. If the ‘distinguished and renowned’ Dr. Mann calls this crap you know it’s really really really crap.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The post makes excellent points. One question: though Jem Bendell claims to have “worked with” Corbyn and McDonnell during the election campaign, he might just be yet another academic name dropper. Do you have any evidence that either politician used or relied on substantive material provided by Bendall in speeches and the like either at that time or since? If so, it is, to put it politely, a cause for concern.




  6. Ryelands,
    Reading bendell, it is clear he is delusional about not only the issue if climate.
    He is equally delusional about the policies he supports.
    The climate consensus is increasingly anti-thetical to civil society, civil rights and the concept of democracy.


  7. Many thanks all for your comments. @ ryelands, I’m not entirely sure – John McDonnell in 2017 mentions “green investments” but this could have come from anywhere.

    However, this week, Jeremy Corbyn is set to make an announcement:

    “Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” before 2050.”

    It will be interesting to see if any material from the Deep Adaptation paper makes it into Wednesday’s speech.


  8. “John McDonnell in 2017 mentions “green investments”

    Thanks for that. Sad bastard that I am, I’ve been following and, in times past, writing on Labour Party energy policy for over 15 years. Corbyn’s current “policy”, like Milliband’s in his day, is essentially the same as that pursued by then energy minister Brian Wilson in 2002, the year the EU-driven Renewables Obligation scams came into force.

    The only difference I can see is that there was in those days a measure of rationality (OK, OK, only a small one) now absent. Though one and all waffled fatuously about “green investments”, Brian Wilson did at least (briefly) critcise the SNP’s green lunacy. As far as I can see, Corbyn’s group is no more aware of what the RO/ROS schemes are about than they are of how the EU works.

    I asked about Jem Bendell’s possible input because (a) he strikes me as being about as reactionary and as irrational as they come and (b) I’m curious as to what’s driving Corbyn and McDonnell to endorse the far-right mysticism of the likes of XR.

    Dave. .



    I’m curious as to what’s driving Corbyn and McDonnell to endorse the far-right mysticism of the likes of XR.

    Whatever it is, it’s also driving Bernie Sanders and Ocasio Cortez in the same direction in the US, and the leftwing “France Insoumise” party and its leader Melenchon in France, and the Five Star Movement in Italy. The entire radical left in the West has swallowed the Kool-Aid. Intelligent politicians who are supposedly wary of all “expert” pressure groups will swallow any nonsense about the climate if it’s preceded by “scientists say.” Radical journalists who pride themselves on researching the most abstruse details about Great Power politics or the war in Syria will spout “..and in the meantime, our planet is burning” like autistic schoolkids. I see no way out. They’ll have to get into power, try to deprive people of their cars and cheap plane flights and take the consequences. Then we’ll have to start socialism all over again.


  10. I’m going to have to stop reading this blog site – it’s all too depressing. If I had to take my chances in a world that resembles the catastrophic scenarios described by the likes of Jem Bendell, or just live in a world shaped by the likes of Jem Bendell, I think I would choose the former all day long.


  11. Presumably if I knew I was going to eventually die of starvation, that would alleviate the fear of being violently killed, or killed at all (can you be killed non-violently?)

    I was about to make a crude remark relating to an anagram of the good professor’s name, & then I realised that it is wrong to play the man, especially as I haven’t read his diatribe yet.


  12. XR are finally doing something useful, they are occupying an HS2 operation site in the Colne Valley, (London, that is). Another massive money black hole: http://stophs2.org


  13. “Where has this idea come from?”

    While indeed the deep adaptation paper, and many other exaggerations / misrepresentations as mentioned in posts here at cli-scep, all certainly play their part, any one of these would not, could not, alone result in the observed emotively driven behaviours. The phenomenon is more advantageously looked at in total, and is an emergent one that has been on its way up for decades. Incrementally it sucks in more adherents and cumulatively pushes the dial to higher levels of unreality and ardent belief. Such phenomena have occurred endlessly throughout history and our brain architecture is geared for them so to do; religions are a more familiar example, but the mechanisms involved are the same whether the resulting culture happens to be religious or secular. None of this invalidates the useful post above, and indeed it’s needful to trace the detail of such threads. But it does caution us that attention to any actual logic of whether the claims make sense or not, or indeed who does / doesn’t reject them on the basis of logic, is very much a secondary consideration.

    ‘Where has this idea come from’ is probably not the most valuable question in this context (because a now vast contributor set will at some point generate almost every possible idea). ‘Why has this idea prospered’ within the total set of ideas (and against logic / reason), is more valuable, because the answer is the same for most of the exaggerations / misrepresentations that have risen to the top over decades, and hence represents the generic reason why all this is happening. The answer being that once a certain cultural inertia is achieved regarding an overall narrative direction (in this case climate catastrophe), the sub-threads that will prosper most are those that invoke the strongest emotional cocktails (hence highest selection values for propagation), however much science (even mainstream, let alone sceptical) or reason invalidates them. As noted depression and sadness, not to mention hope, anxiety, fear and a string of other emotions, are invoked by these misinformational memes, which subvert reason; they are ‘words that think for us’. There are now thousands of such threads all culturally co-ordinated (which is to say largely sub-consciously) towards the same end, also with children now raised on them. So while identification of same, especially the newer stronger threads per the head post, is both interesting and of use, there’s a sense in which such detail (even where the assumptions of readership / connections are all correct), is increasingly incidental to understanding the core issue (and hence potentially addressing it).

    As Alex implies, even mainstream / IPCC science no way no how supports the deep adaptation or XR positions. But neither has it ever supported the main narrative of imminent global climate catastrophe, in all the various forms expressed, for decades, by presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, UN elite, religious leaders, businesses, NGOs, economists and influencers etc etc. The dial is a little higher, the outcomes more specific (and yet likewise for extreme weather, for instance) but same problem. So how can the mainstream science community ever be brought around to pushing back on that which they have never supported, in all such forms? If there is no way for this to happen because of the intense stigma / cultural pressure on the relevant mainstream scientists, how otherwise could these highly emotive (and so persuasive, beneath reason) narratives, so entrenched in authority and swathes of society, ever be challenged?


  14. https://jembendell.wordpress.com/

    “The confirmation from the IPCC that we are heading for imminent disaster for the human race, as well as the rest of life on Earth, really helped bring that home. Suddenly, the lives of our own families seem at risk. Then there is the deeper pain we may feel as we sense that our own choices were mistaken. We believed that we had time and techniques to reform this capitalist system towards something sustainable. It was a wonderful idea at the time, and even got its swansong with international agreement of sustainable development goals. I have experienced myself how difficult it is for that sense of personal efficacy to fall apart.”

    Etc, etc…..


  15. “Dr Jem Bendell is a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK).

    He focuses on leadership and communications for social change, as well as approaches that may help humanity face climate-induced disruption.

    A graduate of the University of Cambridge, he had twenty years of experience in sustainable business and finance, as a researcher, educator, facilitator, advisor, & entrepreneur, having lived & worked in six countries. Clients for his strategy development included international corporations, UN agencies and international NGOs. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recognised Professor Bendell as a Young Global Leader for his work on sustainable business alliances. With over 100 publications, including four books and five UN reports, he regularly appeared in international media on topics of sustainable business and finance, as well as currency innovation. His TEDx talk is the most watched online speech on complementary currencies. In 2012 Professor Bendell co-authored the WEF report on the Sharing Economy. Previously he helped create innovative alliances, including the Marine Stewardship Council, to endorse sustainable fisheries and The Finance Innovation Lab, to promote sustainable finance. In 2007 he wrote a report for WWF on the responsibility of luxury brands, which appeared in over 50 newspapers and magazines worldwide, and inspired a number of entrepreneurs to create businesses in the luxury sector.

    That bio is all past tense, as now Jem has moved into a new phase of work in light of the latest climate science.”

    I’m not sure what most of that first section means, but I’m pretty confident his cumulative CO2 footprint is a lot bigger than mine.


  16. For me, the idea that XR is somehow embracing “right wing mysticism” seems off base. Basically everyone supporting the XR nihilism is on the left.
    At best the argument could be made that as a group attains status and power, they end up taking on reactionary tropes.
    In “The Screwtape Letters”, Lewis has the demons speculate about a long term project to merge mysticism with materialistic wickedness.
    There certainly does seem some new versions of old evil dominating the public square these days.


  17. MARK HODGSON says: 29 Apr 19 at 5:55 am

    Indeed, which paragraph is actually in direct contradiction to the actual IPCC AR5 chapters 0:


  18. Re ‘far-right mysticism’. Far right and far left, indeed ‘far anything’ including many past ideological positions now forgotten, not to mention many ‘far religious’ positions, share more in their excessive behaviours (arising from the same mechanisms) than in their supposed surface goals / policies. This causes many people to correctly note similarities, but also on occasion to claim the behaviours are all ultimately right wing (arbitrarily, or if they favour the left) or all left wing (arbitrarily, or if they the favour the right). The point in this case is that it is ‘far climate’, yet like all strong cultural movements this will ally to other existing culture (and hence end up opposing the enemies of its allies). The alliances are generally ad-hoc according to local conditions; hence the strong polarization in the US with formal political for / against CC from Dems / Reps, the blander situation in the UK where all 4 main political parties (Con, Lab, LibDems, SNP) are formerly for CC albeit with varying enthusiasm, and the situation in Germany where for many years the main political party promoting CC policy is *right* of centre (with Merkel known as the ‘climate chancellor), while in later times due to the problems of the energiewende there is some resistance from both left and far right. In the US, because of the strong Dem alliance with climate culture, this pulled Reps into a sceptical position, but the polarized public on both sides don’t hold their position because of any significant knowledge or balanced view of the climate domain, but merely because of their cultural identity on the Rep / Con – Dem / Lib axis. After a long period of ‘shall we, shan’t we’ dance, Catholicism has come in on the CC side per papal pronouncements, but some other religious flavours are very opposed (e.g. see the Cornwall Alliance). As climate culture grows and indeed has become more international in nature (i.e. support link-ups not just international elite), this will likely re-align relationships, but for sure the more recent narratives of still greater urgency (and hence the perceived need to shut down all fossil fuel use very swiftly indeed), is a gift to anti-capitalists (so left-wing), and indeed likely prompted through existing alliances where they existed, e.g. the GND from Democrat aligned AOC is largely such an agenda albeit it doesn’t actually claim to be anti-capitalist afaik. Prior to that, and indeed still so for many, timescales were such that market forces are a serious proposal to solve or help solve the problem, meaning right wing support too. Anyhow, it’s probably still more useful to note that the behaviours are very definitely in the ‘far’ cultural category, than worry about how precisely this might be interpreted on a traditional linear left-right scale upon which it doesn’t really sit anyway. Catastrophic climate culture is a ‘far’ in it’s own right, wherever and whatever alliances it makes or draws upon.


  19. fix: ‘…share more in their excessive behaviours (arising from the same mechanisms) than differences in their supposed surface goals / policies…’


  20. Mark Hodgson, Bendell’s cumulative emissions must indeed be enormous. He’s a dedicated globetrotter, flying all over the place on a whim. He once flew to Auroville (a dodgy ‘intentional community’ in India) to write a report on corporate responsibility and climate change. His reason for going there? Auroville ‘provided a suitably cheap writing environment’. Wot? Cheaper than staying at home?

    On another occasion, he flew to Argentina to present a sustainability prize to someone who was making haute couture knitwear out of discarded tights.


  21. Andy,
    Thanks for the analysis. Your point on the Pope is sadly spot on.
    He is driving out traditional Catholics so he can literally drive in potential new ones. His anti-scientific stands are more than bad enough. His cruel and cynical move to openly (and profitably, it turns out) flood the US with illegal aliens is a perversion of Christian ethics and tradition is heart breaking.
    His cowardly silence in the face of leftist despots and his deliberate misrepresentation of market economies is pathetic and transparent. But his path to power is similar, and his stands are identical to the “progressives” world wide who are undermining our basic freedoms.
    Over at Tallblokes phil salmon posted this:
    “The opening quote in Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” spring to mind:
    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within” (W. Durant)”

    From media to academia to our political leaders, to the social movements that dominate the public square, it is worth asking if any of them serve to strengthen our society and culture, or do they on balance undermine it from within?


  22. Ideas don’t spring into being as spontaneous immaculate conceptions, they arise because some one or a group of someones conceive them, maybe as a response to a physical observation grounded in physical reality, guessed solutions to a problem like proper philosophers and scientists do, or maybe they’re ideas that arise as created problems or perceptions mann-u-factured to gain control over other human minds, as proper gurus, shamen, politicians do for raison d’etat.

    In the former scenario, ideas of yr Darwin on evolution by natural selection, or of yr James Hutton perception of geological processes, these ideas grow because others thinking, re Kahneman’s System 2, ;thinking slow,’ are able to critically endorse the concept. In the latter scenario, gurus, ‘thinking about thinking,’ get to understand how to gain control of the thinking of others, the system 1 lizard brain flight and fight system, easily activated in crowds, as Dr Goebells, Edward Bernays Saul Alinsky and yr UN Trilateral Commission operators like George Soros are well aware.

    Regarding the madness of crowds and global warming hysteria, take a look at the history of the Trilateral Commission instigated, 1983 United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development,
    the Gro Harlem Brundtland Commission, that first introduced the term ‘sustainable development’ and promoted the fear of climate armageddon from human caused global warming. It’s endorsing a new globalist world order, with UN controlled pervasive bureaucratic control of all natural resources, institutions and us. (Agenda 21). And of course that political organisation posing as a scientific body, the IPCC, is a UN love child also. https://www.desmogblog.com/donna-laframboise

    Interesting fact. In the US, from its first Trilateral Commission – promoted – president, Jimmy Carter, every administration since, except for Donald Trumps’, has had a Trilateral member as President, or Vice President, or both. Lots of reps in World Bank too. Just saying, what’s behind the green door. Ideas have whatsis and wheresis.


  23. How did it take hold? It was championed by the one group of people in “the West” that the people still generally have respect for: scientists. Most of them (like I used to be) blithely unaware of the incredibly shaky grounds most of the claims stood on, but ready to support fellow scientists under “attack” from “nefarious” groups.

    They have nurtured the catastrophe narrative in every way they can, some of them promoting extremes unashamedly, for political reasons and so it has grown into the monster it is today. Mann may have dismissed the paper when asked, but he will not be penning any lengthy political screeds to the MSM condemning and undermining the nonsense that drives cults like XR. They will not be holding any workshops to search for ways to counter this narrative. The societies will not be publishing any press releases pointing out that the IPCC does not agree. They may deny the claims when pushed, but there will be no active concerted effort to stop them like there is of anything contradictory to the narrative.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Beth and Dave, the implication of those observations is the present situation: a naked power struggle for global control of human behavior, justified by the scientific epistocracy. Openly asserted nowadays is that the cognoscenti should decide and democracy be damned. With the IPCC SR1.5 doomsday warning taken up by “woke” people like Cortezes and Gretas, along with Extinction fearmongers (still no names or bodies for any species departed due to AGW). Their advice is that everyone should PANIC, and at a minimum declare an emergency.
    See Julian Reiss Expertise, Agreement, and the Nature of Social Scientific Facts or: Against Epistocracy

    Liked by 2 people

  25. An article in the Indy about the “rainbow rhythms”, including some criticism of the XR people for using “hippy language” and being “cliquey” – comments are mixed:


    “Facts and figures need to be at the forefront of our argument otherwise I fear we lose most of the population in the fight,” one supporter wrote after making it clear she supported the group’s ambitions. ”Without this, we are categorised as a ‘bunch of hippies’ and people stop listening.”

    Wednesday should be interesting – XR and Momentum will be joining forces outside Parliament when Jeremy Corbyn attempts to push the government into making an “emergency” declaration.


  26. I have read his report, and can only say that I agree with him. The report is in. In 12 tears or less it will all be over. Therefore his challenge to fellow academics is justified- there is no point in further study or education in this field. Probably the best deep adaptation for them would be to move to an intentional community high in the hills away from the angry seas, where they could make compost of their own excrement and their environmental reports from the last forty years. In this they could grow Swedes, a very storable crop for a long dark winter, and cabbages for sauerkraut. Thus nourished, they would at least survive to form the nucleus of a better society when we have perished for our blindness. Or, if life goes on after 12 years, they could rejoin us, hopefully somewhat chastened.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Bother. “Tears” was meant as “years”, but I rather like tears. Also “hopefully somewhat chastened” would be better as “somewhat chastened, one may hope.” Or better “rejoin us hopefully! and somewhat chastened.”


  28. “I’ve two boys, 10 and 13, and they won’t have enough food to eat in a few years’ time.”

    This is Kate Marvel territory and I’m sure I saw her referenced on their web site as a scientist who must be believed.


    “We continue to burn fossil fuels and the gases they make continue to trap heat, warming the air, the land, the shallow seas. The heat is mixed deep into the ocean, a long slow slog to equilibrium. There is no way to stop it.

    What do I tell my son? A monster awaits in the deep, and someday it will come for you. We know this. We put it there.”


  29. I’m beginning to suspect that XR are not just a bunch of lunatic climate change activists, but that they have been deliberately set up by the establishment and green groups to give fringe environmentalists credibility and a shoe-in to dictate climate policy in the UK. Why else would Gove be meeting with these eco-loons in Whitehall and promising even more stringent emissions reduction measures? We have a ‘conservative’ government now fully in thrall to the Green Blob; witness the latest debacle re. the resignation of the fracking tsar.



  30. Look what was ‘predicted’ in 1970

    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.”


  31. Hans. The problem of dire warnings being hopelessly wrong in the past is that this does not preclude some of today’s warnings being correct. One might consider the increasing rate tropical forest habitat is being lost to agriculture and palm oil plantations as quite a successful prediction. The threat of increasing use of effective insecticides on pollinators also seems reasonable. Who knows about ozone depletion?


  32. Due to environmental measures In holland there are virtually no more cows in in the open air despite the huge acreage of grasland, so what happens is that the liquid dung is collected at the stables, and injected directly in the grassland. So no more food for flies, and no flies means no birds. And now environmentalists are wondering why the godwits are gone….


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