Frank Fenner: Another Crackpot Prediction of Doom

NOTE:  The photo above is an illustration of what the earth would look like if ALL of the ice on earth melted and the worst fears of the climate change doomsayers came true:  About 4% more of the earth’s surface would be covered by water than is true today.

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I would take the aged scientist Frank Fenner’s predictions of imminent doom more seriously if his fellow scientists hadn’t been making the same predictions for 400 years — and have a near perfect record of being wrong.

Apparently Fenner, a 90-year-old microbiologist, calmly told The Australian newspaper recently that the human race faces extinction within 100 years due to… wait for it!… overpopulation, famine and, yes, climate change.

“We’re going to become extinct,” Fenner told the newspaper jovially. “Whatever we do now is too late.”

At least Hollywood is more original: In the film 2012, which I found entertaining if a bit tedious, the extinction comes from a new kind of Flood: all the land masses are covered by a massive melting of the earth’s ice. The problem is, such a scenario is scientifically impossible. If all the ice on earth did, in fact, melt, it wouldn’t come close to covering all of the land masses.

According to William Johnston, melting the 29.3 million cubic kilometers of grounded ice would produce 26.1 million cubic kilometers of water and raise the levels of the oceans about 66 feet — enough to swamp small low-lying islands but which would leave most of the earth untouched.

Johnston estimates we would have 128 million square kilometers of land compared to 132 million square kilometers today.  So much for Hollywood!

Back to Fenner. How does he know that “over-population” is going to do us in? After all, scientists have been complaining about “over population” since the days of the British economist Thomas “the End if Near” Malthus in the early 1800s when the earth’s population was about 978 million. Here is Malthus’s “scientific” prediction:

The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world. (An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798, Chapter VII, page 61.

Of course, other scientists have made equal fools out of themselves. Paul Ehrlich, of course, the author of The Population Bomb, famously predicted:

“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.” – Paul Ehrlich, 1970

“When you reach a point where you realize further efforts will be futile, you may as well look after yourself and your friends and enjoy what little time you have left. That point for me is 1972.” – Paul Ehrlich, 1971

“Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.” – Paul Ehrlich, 1976

“Human-induced land degradation… affects about 40% of the planet’s vegetated land surface… [and is] accelerating nearly everywhere, reducing crop yields.” – Paul Ehrlich, 1997

I dunno. Doom and gloom certainly seems to make people money. Al Gore’s personal net worth went from $1 million when he left office in 2000 to $100 million today. As the Democrats demonstrate almost daily, there is a sucker born every minute.

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Robert J. Hutchinson is an author and essayist. His most recent book is Searching for Jesus: New Discoveries in the Quest for Jesus of Nazareth (Thomas Nelson, 2015).