Eco-Alarmism And Scare Tactics Have Barely Changed Since The ’60s

1960s eco protests

1960s eco protests

The Biden administration’s overly ambitious climate-change agenda has gone next to nowhere in Congress, but the war on coal, oil, and natural gas production has continued by other means.

The White House has tried to fill top positions at the Federal Reserve Board with people who want the Fed to restrict capital flowing to fossil fuels—as if Chairman Jerome Powell and company don’t have their hands full fighting four-decade-high inflation rates. [bold, links added]

The Securities and Exchange Commission, meanwhile, wants to force companies to report detailed data on their carbon emissions, which Republican Sen. Pat Toomey correctly describes as “a thinly veiled effort to have unelected financial regulators set climate and energy policy for America.”

To understand the Biden administration’s stubbornness, it helps to appreciate how long environmental alarmism has been capturing the imagination of our intellectual elites.

Before global warming, overpopulation was the existential threat du jour. The modern green movement dates to the 1960s and apocalyptic predictions have long been the coin of this realm.

In 1967, brothers William and Paul Paddock wrote “Famine 1975!” In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” declared that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death despite any crash programs embarked upon now.”

In 1969, President Nixon called for a task force to examine the effects of population growth. And 50 years ago this month, the Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth and the American Future released its findings.

The document predicted a seemingly endless string of catastrophes that a more populous America would have to confront. More droughts, famines, and pollution were in store.

Energy shortages, mineral depletion, and deforestation were inevitable. Higher poverty rates and fewer job opportunities were unavoidable.

“In short, we find no convincing economic argument for continued national population growth,” it concluded. “Recognizing that our population cannot grow indefinitely . . . the Commission recommends that the nation welcome and plan for a stabilized population.

Five decades on, these predictions have not aged well. The U.S. population now numbers more than 330 million, up from around 200 million in 1970.

Yet Americans breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water than they did 50 years ago. Poverty rates are lower, obesity is a bigger problem than hunger, and the current unemployment rate if anything reflects a labor shortage.

Internationally, the trends have likewise been favorable, even as the world’s population has doubled over the past half-century.

The International Monetary Fund has tracked the quality of air, water, fisheries, and natural habitats in 180 countries for more than a decade, and 178 of them have shown improvement.

Between 1990 and 2014, the proportion of land set aside for wildlife reserves, national parks, and the like grew by 80%, and marine conservation areas more than doubled.

Today’s green activists tend to focus on climate change rather than population growth, but they employ the same scare tactics and their predictions are just as outlandish.

“What we’re playing for now is to see if we can limit climate change to the point where we don’t wipe out civilizations,” said climate activist Bill McKibben.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the Atlantic magazine in 2019 that “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

The New York Times reports that “climate change is already hurting the availability of food” and that “if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, so will food costs.”

In reality, since the 1960s the global production of food calories has risen dramatically and can easily satisfy the nutritional needs of everyone on the planet.

And since 1980, the worldwide number of annual deaths from famine has been 90% to 95% lower than the first half of the 20th century.

But ideological environmentalism isn’t about following the data and the science. It’s about frightening others into accepting your way of thinking.

It’s about curtailing the freedom of other people to make decisions for themselves and live their lives as they see fit. In the end, the White House and its green allies aren’t really trying to win over public sentiment through facts and reason.

For them, public sentiment and the legislative process are obstacles to overcome by whatever means necessary.

More disturbing is that the administration’s environmental priorities seem unaffected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting upheaval in global energy markets.

At a time when domestic fossil-fuel production could provide the U.S. with all manner of leverage in helping allies in the region rebuff Vladimir Putin’s aggression, Mr. Biden has been reluctant to change course.

Geopolitical considerations take a back seat to fighting global warming, even if it means thousands die, millions are displaced, and autocracies like Russia, China, and Iran gain the upper hand.

h/t Steve B.

Read more at WSJ

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