This month marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most destructive books of the last century, The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich.
The 1968 doomsday bestseller generated hysteria over the future of the world and the earth’s waning ability to sustain human life, as Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich offered a series of alarming predictions that turned out to be spectacularly wrong, creating the enduring myth of unsustainable population growth.
Ehrlich prophesied that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s (and that 65 million of them would be Americans), that already-overpopulated India was doomed, and that most probably “England will not exist in the year 2000.”
In conclusion, Ehrlich warned that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come,” meaning “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”
If these musings had been received for what they actually were—the wacky theories of a crackpot academic—all would have been well. But The Population Bomb sold some 3 million copies and influenced an entire generation.
Ideas have practical consequences, and Dr. Ehrlich did not leave his followers guessing as to what they ought to be.
In the course of his illustrious career, Ehrlich has defended mass sterilization, sex-selective abortion, and infanticide. In his call for radical population control, Ehrlich has said he would prefer “voluntary methods” but if people were unwilling to cooperate, he was ready to endorse “various forms of coercion.”
To allow women to have as many children as they want, Ehrlich said, is like letting people “throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”
Those who had the coercive power to put Ehrlich’s theories into practice bear witness to just how horrifying they were.
To reduce its population, China instituting a draconian one-child policy, which has now left the country (through sex-selective abortions) with a horrific gender imbalance, with yearly births of some 120 boys born for every 100 girls. As a result, “30 million more men than women will reach adulthood and enter China’s mating market by 2020.”
Many nations—including the United States—began attaching population control measures to aid packages to third-world countries, meaning that the amount of aid received became conditioned by the state’s ability to coercively reduce its own population.
The tragic fact is that as a credentialed scientist—a biologist lecturing at Stanford University—Ehrlich’s proclamation of the end times as well as the means to confront them struck many as the plausible theory of an “expert.”
As Bill McGurn argues in the Wall Street Journal Monday, in his day, Dr. Ehrlich’s “assertion about the limited ‘carrying capacity’ of the Earth was settled science. Never mind that it is rooted in an absurdity: that when a calf is born a country’s wealth rises, but when a baby is born it goes down.”
A few brave souls resisted the urge to jump on the population explosion bandwagon, urging calm and rationality. One was economist Julian L. Simon, who later noted that “whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.”
In 1981, Simon published The Ultimate Resource, underscoring man’s ability to adapt to new circumstances and overcome obstacles through ingenuity and creativity. It is the human mind, rather than coal, trees, or iron, that is the ultimate resource—one that suffers no risk of depletion.
Another population expert, Fred Pearce, has more recently noted that birthrates are now below long-term replacement levels nearly everywhere, a trend he examined in his 2010 book, The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet’s Surprising Future.
The baffling mystery is how Ehrlich—despite his utterly failed forecasts—can continue to be hailed today as a serious scientist with something important to say to the world.
In early 2017, the Vatican invited Dr. Ehrlich to speak at an academic conference titled ‘Biological Extinction,” sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
The conference addressed issues of biodiversity, “great extinctions” of history, population and demographics, and Ehrlich was invited to speak on “Causes and Pathways of Biodiversity Losses: Consumption Preferences, Population Numbers, Technology, Ecosystem Productivity.”
The enduring power of alarmist theories such as Ehrlich’s, which somehow survive being exposed as utterly false, should give people pause before embracing similar theories and their practical corollaries, even when based on “settled science.”
In a 2015 article, The New York Times observed that “worrying about an overcrowded planet has fallen off the international agenda” and has now been replaced “by climate change and related concerns.”
While perhaps failing to observe the irony of its own reporting, the Times juxtaposed the thoroughly discredited population explosion theories of the 1970s with the (equally alarmist) global warming predictions of our day.
As scientists themselves are beginning to recognize, doomsday theories—including those surrounding global warming—must learn to factor in the astounding resilience of human intelligence and the ability of human beings to react to changing scenarios in remarkably ingenious ways.
Read more at www.breitbart.com
The Nazi Origins of Renewable Energy (and Global Warming)
Why study history, and such an ugly subject as the Nazi rise in the Weimar Republic? Because, quoting George Santayana, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. It seems we have forgotten a lot, because, as a civilization, we are repeating the mad Nazi schemes of renewable energy on a massive scale.
A good source document is this book:
Cover of Technology and Economy in Third Reich: A Program for Work by Franz Lawaszeck, published in 1933
Dr. Franz Lawaszeck was an inventor and manufacturer of hydropower turbines in Bavaria. As an early member of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party or Nazi Party), he soon became a prominent spokesman about the economic policy of the party, especially energy policy. He was clearly in the left-wing anti-capitalist part of the party and had a close relation to other leftist National Socialists such as Feder, Streicher, Himmler, Backe, Goebbels, etc. His book starts by decrying the capitalist state and calling for the life-essential equilibrium that can exist only in a corporatist state.
Dr Lawaszeck begins discussing energy on page 10. Big industries in a capitalist society have an advantage in that they can produce their own power on site for 1.5-2.0 pfennig/kWh, whereas small businesses pay 10-25 pfennig/kWh.
Then, on to page 12 and the hydrogen economy:
It seems that the transformation of society to a hydrogen society is an important step to a new industrial revolution. We shall use this “vorsprung durch technik” [advantage by technology]. Hydrogen engines are more powerful than engines driven by diesel or benzene. With the inexpensive oxygen, it will be cheaper to manufacture and weld steel. So we could successfully compete on the world market and export more. We can then pay back our national debt, even when we have reduced the interest to zero.
On page 47, he gets into the intended Nazi transformation of the power industry:
In short, industry’s needs can be filled by hydro-wind power and coal. Coal is wasted because it is so cheap, so long-term economic effects are not taken into consideration. Coal would be much better utilized for making valuable chemicals and other products. Hydro and wind power can provide up to 80% of energy. The renewable energy is flowing and free. Why aren’t they used more? Interest on money is the greatest obstacle for making hydro and wind profitable. As long we have interest on money, it will restrict the use of hydropower.
Then on to the hydrogen economy on page 60:
Our mission is to build the new hydro and wind power plants independent of the electrical grid, so they produce valuable storable energy in the form of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen can easily be stored and transported in pipelines. Hydrogen will be produced by pressure electrolysis, so the gas will be compressed without extra energy consumption.
And then more on wind power:
Wind power, using the cost-free wind, can be built on a large scale. Improved technology will in the future make it no more expensive than thermal power. This is technically and economically possible and opens up a quite new life-important type of power generation. The future of wind is no longer small windmills, but very large real power plants. The wind towers must be at least 100 m [330 ft] high, the higher the better, ideally with rotors 100 m [330 ft] in diameter. This kind of high cage mast is already built in the shape of high radio masts.
Design for a 1,300-foot-high wind tower producing 20 MW
Also from the Nazi national newspaper Volkischer Beobachter (the People’s Observer) of February 24, 1932:
In a sensational speech by the constructor of the biggest steel towers in Germany, the well known engineer Hermann Honnef from the Rhineland, at the Institute of Physics of the Technical University [Hochschule] in Berlin, mentioned that in the height between 70 to 90 meters [230 to 300 ft], a high wind zone is starting that can deliver wind energy. Honnef had in yearlong research constructed a high-zone wind power project, which he declared in details. The influence of variable wind is eliminated totally. The most interesting result of his experiments is that it is possible to use the different strengths of wind in different areas to a degree, that only 3 to 5% in the yearly peak demand is left. This is a huge improvement compared with the much bigger variability of hydro power. He will combine hydro power with his wind power constructions, which are delivering the base electricity, and in this way improve the utility of hydro power considerably.
The surplus electricity from the windmills, situated along the sea coast, will be used for the production of very inexpensive hydrogen. This will make many products less expensive. Fertilizers will fall in price. The hydration of coal to liquids will be cost-effective. The cost can be reduced from 17 pfennig per litre [64 pfennig per gallon] to 7-8 pfennig per litre [26-30 pfennig per gallon]. In this way about one billion Reichsmark can be saved, which today goes abroad (for importing oil). The 300,000 workers in the coal mining industry can keep their jobs, 200,000 in the mines and 100,000 for the liquefaction of coal. The cost savings will make it possible that an additional 400,000 workers can be paid in the transforming process of the industry
Big and small farms shall get the possibility to purchase electricity in surplus times at very reasonable prices, from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and 12 noon to 1 p.m. At least 1 million new small farms shall be established. The cheap electricity makes it possible to heat the land, and then get a third harvest. Again, billions can be saved, which we normally pay to foreign countries for vegetables, salad, fruits, etc. During the night, electricity of about 1 kWh for 1 square meter [11 square feet] of land will be sufficient.
One of the 1,300-foot-high wind towers would have taken 27,500 tons of steel to make, approaching the amount used in the Scharnhorst. So wiser heads prevailed, and the Nazi renewables push petered out by 1936. But another pernicious Nazi influence was rising. Hermann Flohn, born in 1912, received his doctorate in 1934 and began work for the German Meteorological Service. In 1941, he published the first German-language article on global warming, the title of which translates as The Activity of Man as a Climate Factor. Also in that year, he became the chief meteorologist for the Luftwaffe High Command, providing advice for Operation Barbarossa. Herr Flohn survived the war and was still pubishing alarmist papers on global warming 40 years later – for example, the title of this paper in the journal Umschau in 1980:
Translates as C02-Induced Warmth More Dangerous than Nuclear Energy. These sentences tell you all you need to know from it:
Up to a value of 450 ppm, there are apparently only risks that can be countered by an adaptation strategy[.]
A really catastrophic climate can only be expected at about 750 ppm: the freezing of the Arctic ice ocean shifts the climate and precipitation belts around 600 to 800 km [375 to 500 mi] to the North Pole (less to the South Pole).
So if you have ever wondered about the intellectual origins of renewable energy and global warming, they had their beginnings during an ugly period of history – through misanthropic schemes created by people with a repulsive Weltanschauung.
David Archibald’s fight against totalitarian ideologies has been recognized by Anti Fascist Action Sydney.