10 times ‘experts’ predicted the world would end by now

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while selling her “Green New Deal,” said that the world will end in 12 years if nothing is done to address climate change. “Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z… we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,'” Ocasio-Cortez said in January.

But similar past predictions – even by the most prestigious experts – have failed to pan out. Here are 10 of the biggest doomsday prediction failures.


In 1989, the Associated Press relayed a warning from a U.N. official: “A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”

The official was Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, who added: “Shifting climate patterns would bring back 1930s Dust Bowl conditions to Canadian and U.S. wheatlands.” Instead, U.S. and global farm production rose, and more than 1 billion people worldwide rose out of extreme poverty due to economic growth.

“He is saying that if we don’t dramatically reverse emissions by the year 2000 — then we are not going to be able to avoid future flooding,” Romm said. “It now seems inevitable that a number of island nations will be wiped off the face of the earth because we didn’t act in time,” he added.

According to NASA, global sea levels rose 3.5 inches in the 25 years since 1993, when it began reporting satellite data on sea levels. The world’s lowest-lying country is the Maldives, a collection of Pacific islands with a population of just over 400,000, where the highest point in the country is 7.9 feet above sea level, with much of it below 3 feet.


In 1967, a best-selling book came out called “Famine 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Survive?” It predicted mass starvation around the developing world due to increasing population. “Today’s crisis can move in only one direction – toward catastrophe,” it warned. Some experts praised the book and ridiculed doubters.

“All serious students of the plight of the underdeveloped nations agree that famine… is inevitable,” Cal Tech biology professor Peter Bonner wrote in a 1967 review of the book in the prestigious journal Science. The exact opposite of the book’s prediction happened. Famine deaths plunged dramatically as farming technology improved, communist countries began allowing private property again, and the globe became further connected.

According to a dataset put together by Our World in Data, more people died of famine in the single decade prior to the book’s release than in all 52 years since it was published. Yet the book got widespread praise from experts. Ecologist Paul Ehrlich, now President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, said in 1968 that the book “may be remembered as one of the most important books of our age.”


Global cooling was once a worry to many, such as University of California at Davis professor Kenneth Watt, who warned that present trends would make the world “eleven degrees colder in the year 2000 … about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

British science writer Nigel Calder was just as worried. “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind,” Calder warned in International Wildlife magazine in 1975. That quote was dug up by George Mason University economist Walter E. Williams, who argues that there are so many apocalyptic predictions because “they have an agenda for more government control … fear about the environment is a way to gain government control,” Williams told Fox News. “Communism and socialism have lost respectability, so it’s been repackaged as environmentalism,” he added. “It’s like watermelons — green on the outside, red on the inside.”


The same U.N. official who predicted the loss of entire nations by the year 2000 also claimed: “the most conservative scientific estimate [is] that the Earth’s temperature will rise 1 to 7 degrees in the next 30 years.” But looking back from 2019, the temperature rose about half of a degree Celsius since 1989, according to NASA. Romm says that, regardless of what that U.N. official may have said, the projections issued in the U.N.’s official reports have been good.

“All of the major scientific assessments of global warming have become more dire over time because greenhouse gas emissions have until very recently kept rising at a worst-case scenario rate,” Romm said. Many who worry about global warming acknowledge that some past predictions have been overblown, but say they hope that doesn’t distract people from the reality that the earth is warming due to man – if more slowly and less catastrophically than some have predicted.

“There have been predictions that have turned out not to come true,” John P. Abraham, a Professor at the University of St. Thomas who has published papers on climate change, told Fox News. “But … the majority of climate science was proven right.”


In 2006, while promoting his movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore said that humanity had only 10 years left before the world would reach a point of no return. Gore’s movie also featured animations of water inundating Manhattan and Florida. Yet Gore’s critics point out that just a few years later, he bought an $8 million beach-front property near Los Angeles.

“I wish the climate catastrophists practiced what they preached and sold me their beachfront property at a steep discount,” Alex Epstein, author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”.


In 1982, U.N. official Mostafa Tolba, executive director of the UN Environment Program, warned: “By the turn of the century, an environmental catastrophe will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible, as any nuclear holocaust.” No such disaster occurred.

In 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wisc., – often considered the “father of Earth Day” – cited the secretary of the Smithsonian, who “believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.” That did not happen.

A 2011 notice from the National Science Foundation quotes researcher Anthony Barnosky at UC Berkeley, who said: “So far, only 1 to 2 percent of all species have gone extinct in the groups we can look at clearly, so by those numbers it looks like we are not far down the road to extinction.” Barnosky still expressed concern over a long time horizon, saying that 75 percent of species could go extinct “in as little as 3 to 22 centuries.”

Scientist Harrison Brown predicted in Scientific American that lead, zinc, tin, gold and silver deposits would be fully depleted before 1990. But mining companies found new technologies and reserves, such that by 2019, none of those minerals were near depletion.

Economist Walter E. Williams says environmentalists have occasionally tipped their hand about what motivates their predictions. “We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have,” Stephen Schneider, a professor of Biology at Stanford University, said to Discover magazine in 1989. “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

Williams also cites Sen. Timothy Wirth, a Democrat from Colorado, who said in 1988: “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” Williams finds the exaggerated predictions of some environmentalists unacceptable. “Lying is never OK. To mislead people is never OK,” he told. “You can mislead kids and tell them there is Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But don’t treat adults as children.”


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