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  • Flashback 1970: Earth Day Prof. Predicted A Super Ice Age Would Engulf The World

    Today marks the 45th Earth Day celebration where environmentalists all over the world raise awareness about the ecological catastrophes they believe are dooming the planet.

    Nowadays, eco-activists are sounding the alarm on global warming, but would you believe one of Earth Day’s scientific lecturers was warning about global cooling during the first celebration in 1970.

    “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” ecologist Kenneth Watt told an audience at Swarthmore College on April 19, 1970 around the time of the first Earth Day demonstrations.

    “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,” Watt declared. “This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

    Watt was, of course, wrong. Satellite and surface temperature data shows that the world has gone through a warming trend since the 1970s — though there was a slight cooling trend before that. It wasn’t long before NASA climatologist testified before Congress to argue that the world was dramatically warming due to man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

    Hansen predicted in 1988 that the world would warm at a catastrophic rate — which also has not happened. In fact, satellite temperature records show no warming trend since the late 1990s, and surface temperature data has also showed much less warming than was originally predicted.

    As for Watt, that was not the only apocalyptic prediction he made during the first Earth Day. Watt also predicted the world would run out of oil by the year 2000 and that humans would emit so much nitrogen light would actually be filtered out of the atmosphere.

    “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,” Watt declared. “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.’”

    Watt also told Time 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.”

    His concerns were echoed in a National Research Council report from around that same time which found that “that by 1980 the oxygen demand due to municipal wastes will equal the oxygen content of the total flow of all the U.S. river systems in the summer months.”

    Similarly in January 1970, Life magazine touted that “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 …”

    Have any of these dire predictions come true? Nope.

    (H/T Ronald Bailey and Mark Perry)

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