Don’t lose sleep over dire predictions

How many times have you heard or read that the world will soon be overwhelmed with too many people?

Perhaps you read some of the books that predicted this. Some authors made pretty good money writing such scary stuff. You wish you had their royalties. Paul Erlich sold over 2 million copies of his The Population Bomb.

He wrote it in 1968. When 3.5 billion people lived on the planet. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” he wrote. “In the 1970’s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Ol’ Paul got a few things wrong. The death rate has fallen and fallen again since then. From 13 per 1000 to only 8.4 per 1000 today.



Paul suggested mass starvation would arrive in the 1970’s and 80’s. And that societies would fall apart. Because of the lack of food and their surging populations.

To lessen these calamities, Paul called for sterilants in our water supply and staple foods. Eat your burger and gulp, you’re sterile.

While Paul was investing and spending his royalties, the population of the world doubled. Instead of mass starvation, calories per person rose 24 percent. The percentage of people the UN says are undernourished has fallen by half.

And today there is no shortage of “experts” who predict world population will begin to fall within a few decades. But it was such experts who used to predict no such thing would never happen. So some of us may ignore them.

Do I write this to make fun of Erlich? No. Although he deserves humiliation. Even today, he refuses to admit he made mistakes in his book.

All I wish to do is to encourage you. To lose no sleep over dire predictions. Hey, people are still losing sleep over this population bomb which is not a bomb. They are tossing and turning over Al Gore’s predictions of global toasting. Good chance Al will be inducted into the Opportunist Hall of Fame. (Erlich has a plaque on the wall there.)

There will always be dire predictions. There will always be guys making millions from them. If you are smart, you will have another drink and forget about them. If you are really smart, you will write a book or two and try to make money on them.

The predictions du jour are fracking, pipelines, water shortages. And Muslims over-running us. And nuclear missiles swooping in from North Korea. And the dollar collapsing.

And coming soon, a dire prediction that the world’s population will fall. It is already falling in some countries. Sweden offers folks lots of money to have more kids. So that the Swedish people won’t vanish.

Singapore offers $18,000 per child. And it gets few takers. Pretty soon, no Singaporeans. I will miss them. Much more than I will miss Paul Erlich. And his millions in royalties.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

Find Tom on Facebook. For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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