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Busted predictions from brazen prophets

What is most astounding about the human race is that people like Erhlich, who predicted vast coastlines would be evacuated due to rotting fish by 1980, or Oppenheimer with a black blizzard of sand covering a continent (by 1995), people who have long proven to be arrant failures at making predictions are still invited to speak or write.  Some commentators still mention their name or quote them with a straight face.

Surely it takes a special kind of braggadocio and a certain delusion- of-grand-proportions for these would-be leaders to appear in public after predictions like these?

And yet they do.

Adapted and rearranged from Fox News

1 “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971

2 “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.”

Ehrlich, speech during Earth Day, 1970

3 “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.”

Michael Oppenheimer, published in “Dead Heat,” St. Martin’s Press, 1990

4 “If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.”

Kenneth E.F. Watt, in “Earth Day,” 1970

5 “Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.”

Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1972.

6 “Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010.”

Associated Press, May 15, 1989

7 “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.”

Life magazine, January 1970

8 Within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” (I covered this prize example in detail on this page.)

David Viner, East Anglia CRU, 2000

9 In June 2007, Tim Flannery warned Brisbane that its “water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months”.  Last month Brisbane recorded the wettest December in 150 years.

10 But of course, who could forget the Australian BOM which predicted that “The national outlook for total rainfall over spring (September to November), is neutral for most of the country” which was promptly followed by record downfalls and widespread floods with some areas getting 400% of the average rainfall. The only part of the country the BOM predicted  “a wetter than normal spring” was in South West WA (which recorded one of its driest springs since measurements began).

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Aug 2010

Read the original story at Fox News

All additions to this list are welcome. Who can come up with the most preposterous past prediction? (Andrew Bolt has an impressive top ten from 2008: here.)

Thanks to Brice Bosnich and observa

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