This Week with The Chicowitz:
Last week: “Boomer Retirement: Part 2 – What Will We Do?”
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I gotta’ tell you, I’m all bummed out about Earth Day.
I’ve tried hard to be a good tenant of this precious earth.
I’ve tried to keep the spirit of Earth Day. But reality keeps
slapping me in the face.
The concept of Earth Day had been bubbling up for many years while I was a child. In the mid-1960s Congress passed the Wilderness Act, and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas asked, “Who speaks for the trees?” My answer was, “Why, Katherine Hepburn, of course.”
I had a subscription to Life Magazine. In January 1970, Life reported another of Dr. Ehrlich’s predictions:
In response, I hurried to the drug store and bought 100 size-D batteries.
Dr. S. Dillon Ripley was the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute. In Look magazine, April, 1970, Dr. Ripley wrote:
“And that’s why you never see any unicorns, to this very day.” — Irish Rovers
You’ll see green alligators and long-necked geese,
Here; sing along: The Unicorn Song
Peter Gunter, a professor at North Texas State University, stated:
What was he suggesting, mass suicide? Jim Jones must have been taking notes.
On the evening before the first Earth Day, one of my friends from high school, a “skull full of mush” freshman at Swarthmore College, called me in a state of panic right after she had heard a lecture given by ecologist Kenneth Watt (April 19, 1970):
She ran out and bought half a dozen wool coats... and 14 barrels of oil. (Don’t ask me how she got those into her Volkswagen Beetle.)
To top it off, on April 19, Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, wrote:
“Too late”? Too late???? Calling Dr. Jack! I raced out of my apartment and bought 100 more bags of potato chips.
So, Here We Are
Yet still, I persevere.
Despite the phony predictions and scare tactics of the past, on this Earth Day, I decided to ride my bike to the local Home Depot for my day’s supply of home repair stuff. It’s less than a mile away; surely I can handle that. What could go wrong?
Strange you should ask. Before I got down the driveway, I got a flat tire. I had to drive my car to the closest hardware store (four miles, each way — too far to walk) for supplies to fix the flat. Patch or new inner tube? Which would be better for Mother Earth? Well, patch, of course. Conserve resources; waste not. Do your part.
So, patch it was.
And there’s still more. See the list of predictions made about the time of the first Earth Day here.
Next time, Mother Earth, save your damn self! I got a life here to live.
— Laura E. Huggins
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” – Harvard biologist George Wald
“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” – Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.” – New York Times editorial
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” – Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” – Paul Ehrlich
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” – Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions…. By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” – North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter
“In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” – Life magazine
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” – Ecologist Kenneth Watt
“Air pollution...is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” – Paul Ehrlich
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ’er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” – Ecologist Kenneth Watt
“[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” – Newsweek magazine
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” – Kenneth Watt
Quotes from ”Earth Day, Then and Now,” by Ronald Bailey, Reason.com. May 1, 2000. — http://reason.com/archives/2000/05/01/earth-day-then-and-now/print
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