Summary: The Republic stands on the verge of destruction, again, as a new age of Leftist doomsterism begins. Before again credulously believing and panicking, let’s look at the Left’s past warnings. That should guide our response.
The Left screams warnings, louder and shriller every day, about the dire fate awaiting us. They tell us that Trump plans to overthrow the US government. They tells that he is an authoritarian, a fascist, a Nazi, and another Hitler. Before we panic — mailing large checks to Leftist advocacy groups, joining street mobs, and looking for Nazis to punch — let’s look at the Left’s record of prognostication. Are they reliable?
We have 5 decades of alarms, for most of which the due date has passed. How often have their warnings proven correct? Let’s not react like the people on South Park, with wild panic to every rumor of doom.
The Population Bomb.
The 1968 preface of Ehrlich’s book clearly summarizes his analysis (also see Wikipedia).
“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. 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.”
Never embarrassed by the failure of his predictions, in 2009 he wrote “The Population Bomb Revisited“. It said, quite delusionally, that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”. Even weirder, he took credit for the innovations of the green revolution: “it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.”
Ehrlich is considered an authority by the Left, despite his long series of failures. He gave one of his trademark doomster predictions in when speaking in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. It is quite unlike the serious analysis in Limits to Growth. The New Scientist of 16 September 1971 quotes Ehrlich.
“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
Bernard Dixon’s “In Praise of Prophets” says Ehrlich also predicted worldwide plague, thermonuclear war, death of all sea-food, “rocketing” death rates, and ecological catastrophe. “The audience loved it and gasped for more”.
“The underdeveloped nations have exploding populations and static agricultures. The ‘Time of Famines’ will be seriously in evidence by 1975, when food crises will have been reached in several of these nations. The ‘stricken peoples will not be able to pay for all their needed food imports. Therefore the hunger in these regions can be alleviated only through the charity of other nations.’
“The only important food in famine relief will be wheat, and only the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina grow significant amounts of wheat. The United States, the only one of these four countries that has historically given wheat to hungry nations, is the ‘sole hope of the hungry nations’ in the future. ‘Yet the US, even if it fully cultivates all its land, even if it opens every spigot of charity, will not have enough wheat and other foodstuffs to keep alive all the starving. Therefore, the US must decide to which countries it will send food, to which countries it will not.'”
Los Angeles, A.D. 2017.
Hollywood, whose leaders’ lean to the Left, produces a steady stream of disaster films portraying the approved disaster of the moment, such as “L.A. 2017”. Directed by the 24-year old Steven Spielberg (his third pro job), it aired on 15 January 1971 as an episode of The Name of the Game. The audience saw the horrific world of 2017 (46 years in the future), after pollution had destroyed the Earth’s ecology and forced the remnants of humanity to live underground. Los Angeles has one cow; its milk is a delicacy for the rich. For more about the plot see this, or the Wikipedia entry.
It was written by Philip Wylie, a science fiction writer with a successful specialty in leftist doomster tracts about nuclear war and ecological doom. He novelized it as Los Angeles: A.D. 2017. See a review here.
Five decades of warnings.
The Left bombarded us with countless more warnings of doom during the next five decades. With an impressive record of total failure. My favorite was the years of warnings that peak oil was upon us, with causing the end of civilization. More entertaining were the lurid (but largely bogus) reports of the imminent bee-pocalypse.
Since James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to the US Senate about global warming, the Left has focused on announcements of the imminent climate catastrophe (going beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports): the end of snow, the parade of superstorms predicted to following Katrina, and other grim tidings that have not arrived. It’s an almost endless list of failed predictions.
Plus we have saturation bombing by their predictions of future doom, climate nightmares often based on misrepresentations of the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario. But after 30 years with only tiny changes in US public policy about climate, the Left has changed their tune. Now Trump has become the great danger. Dictator Trump. Fascist Trump. Nazi Trump. Hitler Trump.
Perhaps this time their warnings will prove to be prophetic. But, as with their previous warnings, the analytical basis for their forecasts about Trump are weak — often delusional. He is a clownish conservative, with a cabinet of bog standard far right Republicans. There is near-zero evidence that he, his officials, or senior elements of the US military and law enforcement agencies, want to or can overthrow the government.
- The Left calls Trump an ‘authoritarian’, a false & futile attempt to suppress populism.
- Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler.
- The Left calls Trump a “fascist”, ignoring the many experts who disagree.
Since WWII both Left and Right have relied on fear to influence Americans. Generations have passed since FDR said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Perhaps we have grown up, matured beyond the ability of nightmares influence us. The next few years will reveal much about Trump, the Left, and America.
For More Information
For a list of Left’s false predictions about doom see “Earth Day, Then and Now” by Ronald Bailey from Reason, May 2000.
- Journalists suffer from the crisis crisis, warping America’s vision.
- Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
- Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
- Good news about the fear epidemic: we’re learning!
- Today’s conservative doomster warning (ludicrous but fun) — Paul Craig Roberts sees the End, published in the Leftist “Counterpunch”.
- Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.
Two books about the United States of Fear