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Jesse Kline: Ehrlich Bombs Again

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Jesse Kline, Financial Post

In the more than four decades since The Population Bomb was published, the number of people inhabiting the Earth has more than doubled, but the death and poverty rates have dropped, and life expectancy has increased. Not only are we feeding more people than ever before, we’re doing it with less land.

The inconvenient truth for global warming alarmists is that temperatures have remained flat for the past 15 years, despite a large increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The inconvenient truth for global warming alarmists is that temperatures have remained flat for the past 16 years, despite a large increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Fears of overpopulation and its effect on the Earth’s ability to sustain human life peaked in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when the scientific “consensus” was that overpopulation would result in large-scale famines. Paul Ehrlich, in his book The Population Bomb — which predicted that “hundreds of millions of people will starve to death” in the ‘70s — articulated many of these concerns.

Ehrlich’s predictions proved false. In the more than four decades since The Population Bomb was published, the number of people inhabiting the Earth has more than doubled, but the death and poverty rates have dropped, and life expectancy has increased. Not only are we feeding more people than ever before, we’re doing it with less land. What Ehrlich and other scientists missed was man’s propensity to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances.

But Ehrlich did not learn his lesson: He is one of the scientists behind a statement titled, “Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century,” which was recently released by the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB) — a working group of natural and social scientists at Stanford University.

The report argues that “the evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life-support systems is overwhelming” and that “human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current course.” It lists five areas the scientists are “sounding [the] alarm” over: “Climate disruption”; “Extinctions”; the “Wholesale loss of diverse ecosystems”; “Pollution”; and “Human population growth and consumption patterns.” Let us look at some of the contradictory evidence for each of these areas, in turn.

Climate disruption

The scientists who signed the MAHB statement warn of “more, faster climate change.” But recent evidence contradicts this assertion. The inconvenient truth for global warming alarmists is that temperatures have remained flat for the past 15 years, despite a large increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

According to the 2007 predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the “best estimate” of the planet’s “climate sensitivity” — the average rise in global temperatures to be expected every time the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere doubles — is approximately 3C. But a new study published in Nature Geoscience uses historical observations, rather than computer modeling, to get a number closer to 2C.

Other climate scientists have also come up with much lower climate sensitivity numbers than the IPCC. A team from the University of Oslo estimates that a doubling of CO2 will mean a 1.9C temperature change, while independent climate change researcher Nic Lewis pegs it at 1.6C and a researcher at the Japanese Research Institute for Global Change puts it at 2.3C.

It would appear that the world is not warming nearly as fast as scientists first thought, meaning that policymakers have time to come up with a level-headed response, instead of the big-government solutions the authors of the MAHB report propose — solutions that would be disastrous for the global economy.

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