Science Advances ‘One Funeral at a Time’

REUTERS/British Antarctic Survey/Handout
REUTERS/British Antarctic Survey/Handout

How long does it take for an expert who has, year upon year after year, made predictions of unrealized doom, an expert hailed heeded and hearkened to by the whole world, to admit error? Answer: forever. He never will, and neither will most of his admirers.

This is important to understand — let this sink into your bones — because this sad but true fact about the human condition tells us how long global warming will be with us. Answer: forever. It will last until the last of it proponents die. Which, given improvements in medical practice, will be at least several more decades.

No one said this pithier than Max Planck: Science advances one funeral at a time. The increased and increasing longevity of our species thus partly accounts for the deceleration in scientific knowledge which many have remarked.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the New York Times. The New York Times! No publication is more progressive or as detached from reality, no group of writers more convinced of their secularly divine destiny. Yet, somehow, they brought themselves to publish the piece “The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion.” Watch the video at the top. I’ll wait here.

Back? Fascinating, ain’t it?

Paul Ehrlich has been as wrong, wronger even, than Jim Hansen or Al Gore, yet no number of failed predictions has so much as put a crease in the man’s unwavering support of himself. And wasn’t he as a younger man convincing! The sheer authority in his voice, the utter believability! How many times did he say he was on The Tonight Show?

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.”

As far as I can tell, though I haven’t done a systematic count, not one of Ehrlich’s predictions has come true. Does it matter? Not to him, and not to the many, many grant- and award-awarding bodies who, to this very day, fete the man. The Weekly Standard:

In 1990 — the same year he lost his bet with Julian Simon — Ehrlich was awarded a million dollar MacArthur “genius” grant and was simultaneously feted across the Atlantic with Sweden’s Crafoord Prize, which was worth just about half a million. In 1993 the Heinz Family Foundation bestowed on him its first Heinz Award. This little trinket came with $100,000 in cash and the most delusional praise possible, claiming that Ehrlich’s “perspective, uncommon among scientists, has made [him and his wife] the target of often harsh criticism—criticism they accept with grace as the price of their forthrightness.” Which is a peculiar way of explaining that Ehrlich was completely wrong and that he responded to all such evidence with ad hominem attacks. Five years later, in 1998, he was awarded the Tyler Prize, which comes with $200,000. The money train kept on rolling.

Now don’t make the same mistake this magazine did and call Ehrlich “insanely dangerous.” He is not. He is a harmless old man, who was wrong about, as far as I can tell, absolutely everything. It is a world class blunder to focus on Ehrlich and not on the political scum who “leveraged” Ehrlich’s preposterous predictions to push their anti-human agenda. It was the one-worlders who deserve all the discredit, not poor Ehrlich.

Forced sterilizations! They happened. Forced population “planning.” It happened. Not because Ehrlich said they must, and not even because this deluded and delusional man desired them, but because the powerful progressives who used Ehrlich as a front-man wanted them. They were content to let Ehrlich and others create panic and then to use that panic to their benefit. Headlines shouted “Science Says…!”, “Scientists Agree…!”, “Science Science Science!”

Sound familiar?

Increased population was going to bring only ills. Every bad thing that happened was because of increased population. There were no possible benefits to increased population. Why, increased population was going to cause so much pollution that the globe was going to be plunged into another ice age! The only solution that any right-thinking person could conceive of was to cede more power to governments. Only governments, and preferably world government, could get us out of the mess.

Sound familiar?

It is long past the point where anybody, scientist or not, can seriously consider climate models worthy of attention. They are wrong as Ehrlich was, or wronger. But it doesn’t matter. Their inaccuracy is not the root malady.

Incidentally, Bill McKibben is not today’s Ehrlich, at the least because he is not nearly as intelligent, but this essay of his shows certain parallels.


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