Biologist Paul Ehrlich has issued so many warnings about the pending doom of mankind that he could make the boy who cried wolf blush a crimson red.
The 90-year old Ehrlich is the Bing Professor Emeritus of Population Studies of the Department of Biology of Stanford University and President of Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology, per his school profile, but is perhaps best known for ceaseless doom mongering predicting the end of humanity as we know it.
Given that, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that CBS decided to kick off 2023 by prominently featuring Ehrlich. After all, who doesn’t want to start a new year by being reminded of their impending doom?
CBS kicked off 2023 with an unpleasant bang when its “60 Minutes” program explored the impact of overpopulation on the environment.
Naturally, they had to bring in Ehrlich to discuss the ominous future:
Humans have taken over 70 percent of the planet’s land and freshwater. Biologist Paul Ehrlich told 60 Minutes our growing population and way of life are threatening biodiversity. https://t.co/r1X75U7LyX pic.twitter.com/LwZ7KbCJFg
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) January 2, 2023
“The next few decades will be the end of the kind of civilization we’re used to.”
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) January 2, 2023
“Too many people, too much consumption and growth-mania,” Ehrlich said in response to the question of why the abundance of global wildlife had collapsed 69 percent of in the past 50 years.
One of the more chilling aspects of that clip came when Ehrlich is posited with the idea that “humanity is not sustainable.”
“Oh, humanity is not sustainable,” Ehrlich said. “To maintain our lifestyle, yours and mine, basically, for the entire planet, you’d need five more Earths. Not clear where they’re going to come from.”
“Just in terms of the resources that would be required?” host Scott Pelley asked in follow-up.
“Resources that would be required, the systems that support our lives, which, of course, are the bio-diversity that we’re wiping out,” Ehrlich said. “Humanity is very busily sitting on a limb that we’re sawing off.”
Whew. That’s some intense rhetoric to accompany your new year’s resolutions. That last half-inch on your waistline doesn’t seem like such a big deal when mankind is too busy sawing off (metaphorical tree) limbs, does it?
And yet, despite CBS and Ehrlich wanting to start the year off with destabilizing fear, there’s ample room for hesitation when it comes to anything he espouses.
Because not unlike the wackos who adhered to the Mayan doomsday calendar (thankfully, we’ve all made it past 2012), Ehrlich seems rather intent on simply moving the goalposts when his initial doomsday predictions don’t come to fruition.
Case in point, Ehrlich’s first real stab at shaming his fellow humans can be traced back to his infamous book, “The Population Bomb.” That book, it should be noted, came out in 1968, and Ehrlich co-authored it with his wife, Anna Howland Ehrlich.
In earlier editions of the soon to be 60-year-old book, the Ehrlich’s argued that, “in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”
Hundreds of millions of people did not die in 1970, nor was there a catastrophic spike in death rate. In fact, The World Bank noted that the crude death rate (per 1,000 people) has actually steadily decreased since 1970.
AEI noted that Ehrlich also predicted in 1970 that by the time the 1980’s concluded, 4 billion people (including 65 million Americans) would die.
That never happened either.
And as Fox News pointed out, Ehrlich took another stab at his doomsday prediction in 1971 when he infamously predicted England’s demise.
“By the year 2000, the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people,” Ehrlich said during a 1971 speech. “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
Alas, it is the year 2023 and England is still around. Though, to be fair to Ehrlich, given the state of the economy, calling the U.K. “a small group of impoverished islands” is not entirely inaccurate.
Look, there’s an almost admirable quality to Ehrlich’s grift. Despite being proven wrong time and time again, with ghoulish prediction after ghoulish prediction not coming to fruition, Ehrlich is still banging on this doomsday drum for as long as anyone will listen.
Clearly CBS is still listening to Ehrlich.
Whether or not anyone should still be listening to Ehrlich appears to be a settled matter, at least based on all of the (incorrect) predictions that Ehrlich enjoys bandying about.