Paul Ehrlich's apocalyptic population bomb predictions from the 1970s had a huge influence on modern progressive policy. But The New York Times has gone back revisited them in a new documentary - and you won't believe what The Times has reported now. Will they recognize the irony and take a look at how they approach reporting on issues like global warming?
No one was more influential — or more terrifying, some would say — than Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist. His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” sold in the millions with a jeremiad that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because there were simply too many of us. Dr. Ehrlich’s opening statement was the verbal equivalent of a punch to the gut: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.” He later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.” Dr. Ehrlich was so sure of himself that he warned in 1970 that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come.” By “the end,” he meant “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”
Scary stuff. And it all turned out to be wrong. England still exists. India too. In fact, the human population has doubled since Ehrlich's prophecies became water-cooler conversation.
The New York Times produced a short documentary to chronicle the panic of overpopulation, but may have missed the chance to look at similar stories in the news that cause the same fear mongering today.
"What's amazing about this documentary...It's really well-done. Basically hammering these guys for predictions that really changed the course of the country. And it's amazing the New York Times could make it without a sense of irony. The same clips they play from the '60s and '70s that are supportive of what this guy is saying are the same clips -- you could insert global warming for population control, and it would run today without a change," Stu said.
When The Times asked Ehrlich about whether he would make the same prediction today, he said, "If you asked me the question, are there things that I have written in the past that I wouldn't written today, the answer is certainly yes. I've expressed more certainty because I was trying to bring people to get something done."
Watch the short documentary below:
Get Glenn's reaction below: