Walter E. Williams

That represents the values of some progressives, but what about their predictions? In 1972, a report was written for the Club of Rome to warn that the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, and petroleum, copper, lead and natural gas by 1992. It turns out that each of these resources is more plentiful today. Gordon Taylor, in his 1970 book, "The Doomsday Book," said that Americans were using 50 percent of the world's resources and that "by 2000 (Americans) will, if permitted, be using all of them." In 1975, the Environment Fund took out full-page ads warning, "The World as we know it will likely be ruined by the year 2000." Harvard University Nobel laureate biologist George Wald in 1970 warned, "Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." Former Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, warned, in Look magazine (1970), that by 1995, "somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct." In 1974, the U.S. Geological Survey said the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas. The fact of the matter, according to the American Gas Association, is that there's more than a 110-year supply.

In 1986, Lester Brown, who had been predicting global starvation for 40 years, received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, along with a stipend. The foundation also gave Dr. Paul Ehrlich, who predicted millions of Americans would die of starvation, the "genius" award in 1990. Note that these $300,000 to $400,000 awards were granted well after enough time had passed to demonstrate that Brown and Ehrlich were insanely wrong.

Just think: Congress listens to people like these and formulates public policy on their dire predictions that we're running out of something.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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