Guest Post by Paul “Population Bomb” Ehrlich: Fight the Climate Skeptic Conspiracy!

This is satire.1

Hi, I’m scientist Paul Ehrlich. You might remember me from such failed predictions as “Everybody’s Going to Die by 1984!” and “Tin to Become More Precious than Water!

Today, I’m going to foretell you another story of coming calamity. This story is about our climate, and how if something isn’t done right now, or even yesterday, we will all, once more, be consigned to cataclysm.

But this time we have a chance! Because this time, we know how to fight back. We know who are enemies are, and we know how to hit ’em where it hurts.

Paul Ehrlich

Before I tell you about that, let me take you on a journey that started in 1968.

It was a time of free experimentation. A time of rebellion, happiness, and unbridled liberty. Everywhere the young were throwing off the shackles of the old. Mankind—and womankind—was growing up.

This wasn’t just happening in popular culture; no, sir! This went on in science, too. In labs all across the country, men—and women—were tossing off their restrictive lab coats and engaging in wild speculation!

And I was in on it. I can proudly say that I led the way. Is was I who began to understand that soon—yes, very, very soon—hundreds of millions of people were going to die. Not millions, not tens of millions, but hundreds of millions!

Why? Because they were going to run out of food. They were going to—I still get the shivers thinking of this—starve to death.

Well, I was off a little in that one. But in my favor, since my book appeared, there have been multiple reports of children being sent to bed without their dinner. Hey, there was actual starvation, too! Though most of it was caused by wars or because of failed socialist central planning. Still, a dead body is a dead body, and each one counts in my favor.

Anyway, if you only look only at the starvation numbers, you’ll miss the frightening fact that population sure did increase since 1968! That has to count for something, right? It’s true I used the term “Population Bomb”, but I didn’t mean that population was going to “bomb out.” I merely meant that population was going to increase. So you can see that I was right after all!

I suppose it’s true nowadays that demographers are worried about underpopulation, particularly in advanced societies. But how many demographers do you know that have a world-wide following like me? How many have received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award like I have? Since nobody listens to these demographers, but they do listen to me, it can only mean that I know what I’m talking about.

Not convinced? Why, even now I have President Obama’s ear—once removed, through my old, and devoted, student John Holdren. He’s Obama’s Science Adviser. And since he knows what I know—like how badly we need a global redistribution of wealth, and how some women should undergo compulsory abortion—you can bet the President is getting my top-notch advice.

If you concentrate on those missed predictions to dismiss me, you will be making a terrific mistake. Because it’s not the predictions that count, it’s how important the theory behind them is! And no theory is more important than man-made—and woman-made—adverse climate change.

It’s true, I’m not a climate scientist, but I like what those guys are up to. The fundamental basis of their theory is that the world’s weather woes are caused by our greed and excess breeding. That has to be right. I sure want it to be right. Therefore, it must be.

My friends, you have heard that there is a highly organized cabal of skeptics—fattened by the money of oil companies!2—who have the temerity to publicly dispute climate change. These people will not admit that the science is undisputed. This cannot stand.

And it won’t. This time we’re going to stop those meddling skeptics by unleashing a tsunami of pain. How? We’re going to take out an ad in the New York Times!

When those deniers wake up on the morning of the ad placement and have their papers read to them, boy! Will they be in for a gut-busting surprise? You bet. Opposition to our wholly beneficent plans will fold faster than a coward holding a straight flush.

Listen, friends. If we don’t do something now, then everybody’s going to die. No, not everybody, but most everybody. Maybe even me. You already know that my predictions about this kind of thing were technically right before, so you know I have a good chance of being technically right again.

Help by sending money to my organization today. Good day, and thank you for listening.


1I weep that I must have this disclaimer.

2I received no money, nor any other consideration, for this article. Or for any other that I have ever wrote about climatology. In fact, the opposite is true. All work I do comes out of my own pocket.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for help with the research.


  1. j ferguson

    What would happen sans the disclaimer?

  2. J Ville

    Yes, the perfect marriage of proven false doomsday prophet with the doomsday scenario du jour. I’d say Paul Erlich should be working as a Wal-Mart greeter, but that would be an insult to the kindly septuagenarians now working there who can actually count the shopping carts. Erlich would be running wildly around the parking lot within a week, predicting the collapse of the ground because of all the cars.

  3. Frederick Davies

    How much I miss Julian Simon these days; he would have put shits like Ehrlich in their place!

  4. Ray

    Life is so unfair. Michael Crichton and Julian Simon are dead and Hansen and Ehrlich are alive.

  5. Are we name dropping?

    True story: I’m an old Oregon hand, and have hobnobbed with some famous Oregonians (which is not a complete oxymoron). One time novelist Ken Kesey said to me, “Everybody’s got a dire report.”

    Ken made a valid point. Everybody has some future catastrophe to worry and fret about. For some it might be paying the next month’s rent. For others is might be the End of All Life As We Know It.

    Some folks have made worry into a career, and even into billion dollar enterprises. It’s an easily invoked emotion. “Watch out!” “What’s that creeping up on you?” People are pre-programmed to worry. We all do it. And some folks like Earlick milk insecurity for all it’s worth.

    The future will be dire. No doubt about it. The End Is Nigh. Warn your neighbors. Wear clean underwear. No telling when the hammer will fall. Worry, friends, worry like there’s no tomorrow. Fret, stew, gnash your teeth, raise your blood pressure. And always carry a little bottle of hot sauce, in case we have to start eating each other, which is likely, in fact it’s a sure thing.

  6. Pat Moffitt

    Norman Borlaug was the reason Ehrlich’s apocalypse warnings were absurd. Borlaug is the father of the green agricultural revolution, his genius produced a new generation of pest resistant high yield crops. Borlaug’s wheat first introduced into Pakistan in the 60s and into India next- quadrupled harvest yields and prevented the death of tens of millions by starvation. His “seeds” eradicated starvation in every country in the world that has even a modicum of care for its people and has elevated hundreds of millions of humans from a state of perpetual hunger. The efficiency of his crops has also protected massive amounts of forest areas that otherwise would have been cut down for agricultural purposes.

    John Holdren -Erlich’s co-author on the “we’re all going to die books” has won hundreds of thousands of “prize “dollars from environmental foundation and now serves as Pres. Obama’s science adviser. Norman Borlaug recently quietly passed away. When you understand how a man such as Borlaug’s passing went unnoticed, Holdren is science adviser and Al Gore is a “saint”- you will understand the environmental movement. And hopefully will appreciate how dangerous this movement is to the welfare of the world’s people.

    Take a moment and Google Borlaug – and the next time someone talks about Al Gore or some other environmental “hero”– tell the story of a man named Norma Borlaug.

  7. realitycheck

    Watched “Grizzly Man” DVD by Werner Herzog last night. Timothy Treadwell’s “story” in full color. Am reading “The Grizzly Maze: Timothy Treadwell’s Fatal Obsession with Alaskan Bears” by Nick Jans now. The parallels between Treadwell’s story (and fate) and that of humanity’s end game should the enviros get the final say are sobering.

  8. kim

    Years ago, Ehrlich’s famously wrong idea prompted me to estimate the theoretical maximum population of the earth if all of the sun’s energy hitting the earth were dedicated to sustaining human life. I came up with a figure in the single digit quadrillions. This is approximately a million times more people than the sun presently sustains.

    Now obviously, such a scenario is impossible. The point to remember, though, is that a tiny increase in the efficiency with which the human race uses solar energy will allow many times more people to live on earth than do now, and with a decent standard of living.

    All I can credit Paul Ehrlich with is an appalling lack of imagination. And what does that say about all the lemmings who’ve taken his message to heart and now seek to act upon it, despite the example of people like Norman Borlaug? Well, that they also have an appalling lack of imagination. But why do they so fail when the error of Ehrlich is compared to the inspiring message of the Borlaugs of this earth?

    Beats me.

  9. Briggs


    Just wanted to thank Herr Professor Doktor Ehrlich for contributing such a thoughtful article. Lots to think about here. We’re all excited to hear your new predictions about how many will die if the climate deniers get their way.


    I’d love to see your analysis. Is it too long to type as a comment. Perhaps a guest post?

  10. kim

    No, it’s short and easy. It takes about a hundred watts to run a person. I divided the total wattage hitting the earth by a hundred. This was a long time ago and I’ll not vouch for it, but it should be easy to check.

  11. kim

    Really, though, the point stands even if my figures are off.

  12. mitchel44

    Nuff said,

    “This is my long-run forecast in brief,… The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely. Within a century or two, all nations and most of humanity will be at or above today’s Western living standards. I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse.”

    Dr. Julian Simon

  13. Mike D,

    Yes, Kesey was quite interesting. I saw him give a rousing speech at an anti-war rally around 71 at the U of O. While I can give him quite a lot of credit for his novels that I enjoyed, his speech was somewhat confusing. Perhaps a little too much LSD that night. And I do think I know where much of the paranoid thinking came from back then.

  14. Geoff

    How does it happen that Paul Ehrlich has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences for 25 years? Has he done some useful work that offsets his mind-numbing errors?

    I mean, how how great does your work on butterflies have to be to overcome being off by a few hundreds of millions when dealing with people, especially when your expertise if supposed to be population?

    Simple thought exercise. Take the global population today (about 6.8 billion) and put them in two US states, Texas and California. The resulting population density would be lower than Singapore is today. (OK, some parts of California are not that habitable, so throw in Florida if you want).

    Haven’t been to Singapore? Take the population of China (1.2 billion) plus the population of India (1 billion) and put them in the continental US. The population density would be lower than The Netherlands is today.

    Perhaps we’re not so near to the end of the world.

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