Past Predictions by Famous Scientist Dr. Paul Ehrlich

About Dr. Paul Ehrlich professor of biology and some of his past predictions about the future.


An expert on population and ecology with somewhat gloomy predictions, Paul Ehrlich is a professor of biology at Stanford and coauthor of The Population Bomb and How to Be a Survivor. He calls for stringent controls on population growth, "redevelopment" of technologically developed nations, and other measures to avert worldwide ecological disaster.

Note: Ehrilich's predictions are given in the form of somewhat extravagant scenarios which tell what would happen if man doesn't do something to prevent disaster. Therefore, they are not absolute predictions.

Past Predictions: Wrong--In 1964, he said that the Indian vasectomy program was going to fail because of the beliefs of the populace and technical problems. The program is not an entire failure.

--In 1969, he claimed that it was "ignorant and irresponsible" to expect increased food production from underwater farming. In 1970, food production increased in Asia because of marine agriculture.

--In 1972, he said that 1973 smog disasters in Los Angeles and New York would leave 200,000 dead. He painted a picture of hundreds of people dying without medical help in hospitals, while others watched on their television screens. It would be announced, he said, that Americans born since 1946 (when DDT came into wide use) had a life expectancy of 49 years. Neither event has happened, though smog and DDT remain real dangers.

--In 1972, he said that by 1973 even industrialists from companies like Union Oil would be concerned over the reduction in bird populations because of DDT. Insects and rodents would increase in number at frightening rates. In actual fact, the Environmental Protection Agency announced an almost complete ban on the use of DDT, which became effective on December 31, 1972.

--In 1972, he predicted that water rationing would occur in nearly 2,000 municipalities in 1974 and that hepatitis and epidemic dysentery rates would go up 500%. Neither event took place.

--In 1972, he said that, because of a shift of the jet stream caused by air pollution, a permanent drought would occur in the Midwest, turning it into a desert. In reaction, the economy would start to fail. This has not happened.

--In 1972, he said that Congress would pass a Population Control Bill which would authorize an increase in money spent for family planning and would stipulate that all American aid to overpopulated countries would be required to consist partly of assistance in birth control. As a result, underdeveloped countries would try to get the UN to condemn the U.S. as a "genetic aggressor." An Indian Ambassador to the UN would point out that the U.S., with 6% of the people in the world, consumes 50% of its raw materials and that the average American family dog gets fed more animal protein in a week than the average Indian gets in a month. Such a bill has not passed.

Right Somewhat--In 1972, he said that the whaling industry would be close to failure in 1973. In truth, the whaling industry isn't dead, but there is real concern that overkill will indeed cause extinction of certain species of whale.

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