50 Years Ago: An Awesome Earth Day Warning

April 22, 2020

We’ve had plenty of warnings.
Some collected on this page.

Below, Archival video of scientists, What did We know, and when did we know it?

Below, Stephen Schneider in 1979.

This is a gem I discovered, a General Electric Science program from 1956, describing climate change accurately.

I actually remember, I was 5 years old, when Dr. Frank Baxter, actually an English professor at the University of Southern California, served as the Carl Sagan of the day.

38 Responses to “50 Years Ago: An Awesome Earth Day Warning”


  1. You won’t like this, but renowned liberal filmmaker Michael Moore just toppled many sacred icons of Green Growth. Many of us have been waiting for this ideological breakthrough in mass media.

    “Planet of the Humans | Full Documentary” https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE (free to watch)

    Fans of obscenely large wind projects should go right to the segment on Lowell Mountain, Vermont: https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE?t=982

    The film also covers solar panel manufacturing and desert mirror facilities like the Ivanpah bird-fryer. Despite its cons, I’m for solar, but not when it obliterates open space that environmentalists used to protect.

    The dirty side of “clean energy” has been talked about for many years, but Moore’s clout may finally bring an honest debate. I will be interesting to see how quasi-environmentalists (some of the world’s biggest land & ocean developers) react to this film.

    Your obsession with climate change (I’m NOT denying it’s a problem) has blinded you to a huge increase in the physical destruction of nature, built with fossil fuels and mostly futile. What’s really needed is a scaling down of society, not more destructive growthism with green branding.

    • redskylite Says:

      “scaling down of society” – how an earth are you going to achieve that, especially in the short time span we have to decarbonize our practices.

      Are you talking about a one child per couple policy like China introduced some decades ago. (that wont be well received in democracies) Hopefully not the sort that Adolf enacted, and some extreme right wing groups advocate.

      Our current alternatives to fossil fuel use are not perfect – but that’s all we have, and we do not have the luxury of unlimited time to experiment with different systems of political population manipulation.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Michael Moore is going to be rightfully condemned for this film, is what is going to happen.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I’ve come to appreciate the distinctions among habitat destruction, pollution and eyesores. Glass bottles and aluminum cans in otherwise wild habitats, for example, may look awful to hikers, but the wildlife doesn’t seem to be affected. Conversely, fertilizers used on hidden illegal marijuana patches are indetectable to human senses, but damage water supplies and affect flora. Too much of the conversation revolves around the human aesthetic.

      Wind farms and solar arrays (even Ivanpah mirror facility) are eyesores to nature lovers, but IMO are not nearly as damaging to wildlife as the SOx, NOx and PM2.5 our power plants and vehicles have spewed and continue to spew by the ton into the atomosphere. That’s not even counting the climate change and ocean acidification that burning of all of the fossil fuel has produced.

      I’d also like to see more emphasis on crop yield over boutique farming, to reduce the amount of land that needs to be used for food production, and allowing more to return to non-human habitat, but that’s another fight.

  2. indy222 Says:

    It’s a sobering film, and I’ve been relaying a similar message for years. I applaud Moore for helping put together a lot of information in a way digestable to the average person in the street.

    It’s frustrating, as a college academic, to try and teach what the real limits are and that it will take tough, Spartan pain for decades and decades to really achieve a planet with abundant life such as we knew as kids, with wilderness to inspire and provide sanctuary for all the other millions of species we share the planet with. We’re roughly 7x over abundant. Our task should not be to pander to those who want you to believe we can have economic growth forever and a planet we’re worthy to call home at the same time. I’m not a Luddite. Far from it. High tech, the internet, and the rest, are values I’d sorely miss. We just need far less of us, and that includes far less solar farms that devastate wide areas of delicate desert ecosystems. Deserts, where one thoughtless OHV’s joyride will cause scars that can last a century, and damagae the spiritual renewal of gentle pilgrims for all of those years.

    The planet might be able to support a 700 million, or a bit less, of people wanting a modern lifestyle and not drive it to collapse. That’s even WITH “renewables” and intelligent molten salt thorium breeder reactors for power, and some solar and wind in already developed places. But who’s THAT vision going to make MONEY for? So that’s the problem, that’s the “herd of elephants in the room” no one wants to really tackle.

    It may already be too late. We’re very close to shutting off the AMOC, causing a much more anoxic ocean, and perhaps triggering a H2S disaste as has caused past Mass Extinctions, finds Paleontologist Peter Ward. It looks already too late to stop the melting of the permafrost, and while there’s been plenty of focus on debunking the death-talk of methane hydrate destabilization, there’s been little focus from the happytalkers on the more ordinary methane from thawing permafrost, from thaw ponds and peat outgasing in new wetlands. There’s too little focus being put on the past 3 years evidence showing ECS is actually +5 C, not the 3C that may have applied in the 20th century and for the average over the past 3 million years of Ice Ages. We know now that this number is not 3C in today’s circumstances, and soon (UN policy people willing) the scientists of the IPCC and the CMIP6 models will emphasize this to the world. ECS of 5C changes everything. It’s a quantum shift in how the future will evolve.

    Meanwhile, the happytalkers manipulate the uninformed with promises of JOBS and GROWTH and all the rest that has brought us already to where we are.

    Even the makers of this much-needed documentary, though, can’t bring themselves to advocate for population control. Yet that’s what is needed, along with much more.


    • Glad to see someone commenting on this blog who’s not a shill for green growthism. The tide may turn on this film if it gets enough play. I agree, they should get frank about ZPG/NPG but there’s only so much you can fit into one documentary.

      Note the film’s jabs at Al Gore and Bill McKibben. Gore was very useful for getting the public’s attention in 2006, but he became a sell-out like so many others. He may have always been, with his lifestyle. Even the ethical rich cave into largess.

      McKibben’s most famous book has a dead bird on its cover. Add some lethal wind turbines to that image and you’ve got the full panoply of “progress.”

      https://falseprogress.home.blog/2018/06/24/why-saving-the-planet-is-a-lost-cause/

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Lethal wind towers?

        Fuck off:

        ip066u

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Urban/industrial sprawl has reduced bird habitat, including migratory options.

          I recommend the documentary Birders: The Central Park Effect (2012) for what a large designated green space in a metropolis can mean to bird populations.

      • Sir Charles Says:

        => The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

        “Climate change poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife, and the RSPB recognises the essential role of renewable energy in addressing this problem.”

        “Wind power has a significant role to play in the UK’s fight against climate change and we will work with Government and developers to ensure this outcome.”


    • Note that the promo image for the film is a guy viewing the construction site for the contested Lowell Mountain wind project, which they make no bones about calling MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL.

      Less soil and rock is removed vs. coal mines, but it ends up looking highly unnatural with giant white spikes visible for miles and red lights at night. Given a visual choice, I’d prefer the look of a restored strip mine, other evils aside. None of it is good, per se.

      • Mark Mev Says:

        Sorry, I just looked at the satellite images of Lowell Mountain and it is NO way near the mountaintop removal that is done for coal. And it is no way similar to the amount of pollution release into the waterways during mountaintop removal (always laughed that removing pretty much the whole mountain was referred to mountaintop removal). But I’m biased. I don’t mind seeing windmills offshore or on mountaintops. I hate seeing coal power electric generating factories. I would live in direct view of large windmills, I would never live downwind of a coal plant. I grew up downwind of a plastics factory. or if the wind changed we got the smells from the gas storage tank area. Don’t understand why they smelled so much. This was the 60s and early 70s. God, I do not miss the smells of the city.

        Another point that I’m confused about (have not finished the movie or Moore’s podcast about the movie). It was my understanding that a blanket statement about EV emissions being better or worse than internal combustion cars could not be made. You have to take into consideration which EV and what the power generation mix was for your area. There was a sight (which I can’t find now) where you selected your region of the USA and the EV or IC you have and it would calculate the CO2 used for the lifetime of the car, manufacturing included.
        If you agree that EVs are worse than IC cars, could you point me to a paper or article that details the analysis?

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Sorry, but one CAN make a blanket statement:

          EV’s are better for the environment and solving AGW than ICE vehicles. Much better.

          • Mark Mev Says:

            I wish I could find that site again. There was an area where the electricity was generated almost entirely by coal and an EV had a worse CO2 lifetime amount compared to a specific diesel car. But it was a one off. All the the areas I played with always had a lifetime CO2 of EVs better than IC. But the numbers varied widely across the US. But this only considers CO2 emmisions.
            For myself, as soon as someone makes a EV minivan, I’ll be getting one.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          The transition of the market from combustion vehicles (and their myriad support industries) to EVs is being done in parallel with the transition of the electrical grid from combustion to renewables/nukes. Meanwhile, the centralization of the emissions in a power plant makes them easier to contain and manage than from hundreds of thousands of tailpipes.

          BTW, I haven’t seen any EV vs. combustion vehicle analysis which takes into account the cost from well to gas pump for traditional fuels*, the making of catalytic converters, the asthma conditions of children in high-diesel areas, etc. Anybody got a link?
          _____
          *Anyone who uses gasoline from Houston-area refineries is driving a coal-powered car.

    • jimbills Says:

      I’m looking forward to seeing it. It’s a vital message that growth is the core problem. Too many believe that we can just continue unending growth if we just turn a few energy and resource knobs here and there. Growth eats away at any efficiency gains, creates new environmental problems of its own, and it greatly limits the ability of new technologies, like renewables, eliminating specific environmental problems like climate change.

      However, that said, there is also such a thing as ‘better’ energy and resource sources. While practically no attention is being paid to figuring out how to phase down growth, environmental impact can also be reduced by less damaging technologies. There ‘could’ (although I personally hold out no hope that there will) be a two-pronged approach to the predicament – friendlier technologies coupled with degrowth. It would allow the fastest and most effective means of reducing our environmental footprint.

      Additionally, the film likely will be used by others with their own agendas for false equivalency. People who care nothing about the environment, like people who argue for maintaining FF at higher and higher rates, or people who believe growth can and should continue forever, will almost certainly use it for their own ends. Michael Shellenberger has already done so:
      https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2020/04/21/new-michael-moore-backed-documentary-on-youtube-reveals-massive-ecological-impacts-of-renewables/amp/

      Are renewables perfectly ‘clean’? No. Are they better than the mining, carbon emissions, human health and environmental impacts from fossil fuel use and production in the past two centuries? Yes. Hopefully the film addresses that in addition to shining a light on the less savory aspects of the tech.

      • redskylite Says:

        Have you checked “false progress’s” wordpress site statement out Jimbills – he has a weird, strange message. He doesn’t seem right to me at all. Has he ever communicated on our blog before? . Indy222 seems to be impressed, quite frankly I’m surprised anybody has responded to him at all. I can’t believe so many take him serious, I can’t believe Indy222 is an academic and lectures people. Stange times.

        • redskylite Says:

          Extract from False Progress’s page. ..

          The acronym COVID could also stand for Chinese Overpopulation Virus Disease. Around 1978 the Chinese government allowed wildlife to be farmed as a means to curb hunger among its 950+ million people, and in 1989 they further loosened restrictions on endangered species protections, calling it the Wildlife Protection Law (typical growthist apologia). Today, China has over 1.4 billion people and constantly boasts of economic growth, meaning more people, more consumption, more pollution and more heinous food sources. It’s considered racist to call SARS-CoV-2 the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese coronavirus” but it’s a highly accurate description of the origin. People should not be eating pangolins, bats, or shark fin soup. It’s disgusting and unnatural, just like the mindless overpopulation that spawned such desperation.

          • redskylite Says:

            If you and indy222 are comfortable with that shit then it’s time for me to stop wasting my effing time on this blog.

          • jimbills Says:

            Redsky – I daily ask myself why I’m posting here. It seems mostly pointless.

            We clearly disagree in some fundamental areas. But I’d suggest you keep posting. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

          • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

            I laughed at the bit about humans eating something “disgusting and unnatural”. It reminded me of that episode of My Name is Earl where Earl visits a all-natural commune and remarks with disgust that they eat plants “that came out of the ground!”

        • jimbills Says:

          ‘Have you checked “false progress’s” wordpress site statement out Jimbills – he has a weird, strange message.’

          I just now briefly looked at his blog. It’s a doomer blog, which I’m okay with. We need more of them. He probably does say some far out things. Your snippet below has some wording that I don’t like, but I’d agree with “People should not be eating pangolins, bats, or shark fin soup” and the anti-growth stuff.

          But, I was responding to Indy in my comment because I understand where he’s coming from. I was initially worried FP was a front for Canman or Terry. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

          The sad truth is that we can’t tackle our environmental predicament, including climate change, without tackling an ever growing economy and population, and we won’t do so because it runs counter to human nature, our economic structure, and our culture – i.e. we’re destined to massively undermine the environment we completely rely on and take for granted.

          If one doesn’t understand or accept that, okay. It’s a very cold belief – without hope. (Ironically, I’d be more hopeful if more people had no hope, because then there might be enough people willing to make the real sacrifices we need to make.) Practically no one thinks like that, though, and someone with those thoughts would indeed seem very strange to most.

          I’m watching ‘Planet of the Humans’ and will give my thoughts on that in a follow up post.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            Tackling AGW has zero to do with out economy or our population levels. It has everything to do with eliminating CO2 emissions. Period.

          • jimbills Says:

            GB – we’ve had this argument many times before, and it’s exhausting to continue it. You have a fixed belief here, as do I. We don’t agree.

            Increasing growth means the total global energy and resource demands rise higher and higher. This draws out the use of fossil fuels in multiple ways well past the time that we would need to safely replace them, and it vastly increases other types of environmental destruction at the same time (for instance, deforestation). To say growth has no influence on climate change is just willful ignorance.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            And all your scary things assume we still use fossil fuels. My point is we will not be doing so, so no need to worry.

            All we have to do is build the machines that replace the machines that burn carbon. Boom – no more carbon emissions.

            Population looks to be solving itself. The economy can be doing whatever it wants – that may cause problems but not AGW problems.

            This is why I keep repeating: “Keep your eye on the ball”.

          • jimbills Says:

            “no need to worry”

            Okay.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      When you start down a mental path that leads you to conclude we need far less solar farms, you can safely conclude that your mental GPS has led you astray.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        Let’s invade another oil-rich country so we don’t have to suffer the sight of wind turbines on hilltops.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
      Step one in addressing human population should be stop encouraging people to have children. The World Health Organization and various international NGOs have long promoted the education and autonomy of women, which naturally reduces the birth rate, but that is undercut by societies valuing women only for their baby-making and home care abilities.

  3. redskylite Says:

    “Just like the first Earth Day, it will be led by young people. The Greta Generation are great organizers — the global school strikes last September were among the biggest political demonstrations of this century. And it will be diverse: The environmental movement has morphed into the environmental justice movement, largely led by the people who’ve paid the biggest price for our collective inaction.”

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-04-21/earth-day-50th-anniversary-chase-bank

  4. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Shall watch MM at earliest opportunity.
    We are at war to save the planet, it’s people and ecology. Or ecology and people if you prefer. First rule of war is ‘selection and maintenance of the aim.’ Aim is above. Maintenance does not require absolute perfection or 100% agreement, only a positive result. The pain of action is so trivial compared to that of inaction.

  5. jimbills Says:

    I’ve watched ‘Planet of the Humans’ and read some of the reviews and the backlash to the film. That backlash will grow stronger over the next few days, and it will have purchase because the filmmaker took a lot of shortcuts and probably wasn’t entirely accurate in making his point. There is a rumor that the film will be pulled because of this (and because it’s both vicious towards many environmental heroes and it has a bleak message) – so watch it now if you want to do so.

    The film is by Jeff Gibbs, who is from Michigan, but I don’t know anything about him. Ozzie Zehner is attached to the film and widely quoted in the first half. Zehner is known for ‘Green Illusions’, which had a very brief time in the spotlight, followed by abject rejection. Michael Moore is executive producer, but that just means he just put his name on it and helped release it. He has no appearance or apparent involvement in the actual making of the film.

    The first half involves issues with solar and wind. Some of this is fair, but Gibbs make a gross error by not indicating the net effect of using renewables instead of fossil fuels. Yes, renewables are largely made by fossil fuels, but 1) what is the actual energy output of these renewables when compared to the fossil fuels used to make them, and what are the pollutive effects of using fossil fuels instead of renewables for that same amount of energy? It’s not addressed, and one is led almost to the conclusion that renewables have a negative environmental effect when compared to just using fossil fuels, which isn’t true at all. Additionally, it ignores the possibility that some methods can be devised to phase out the fossil fuel use in renewables creation and production.

    This is a major flaw. However, people NEED to know that there is no free lunch. All forms of energy production result in some type of environmental destruction.

    The middle very briefly deals with the multiple converging environmental issues that we face. My only critique of this part is that it is far too brief.

    The latter half rakes some well known environmental leaders over the coals (pun intended), while focusing on biomass. It’s unsparing. I do think it’s absolutely fair to question the effects on environmental leaders when partnering with major corporations. It inevitably leads to hypocrisy and turning a blind eye to other major environmental impacts.

    But, biomass was largely accepted in the 2000-2010 time frame, and a lot of the footage is from that period. Most environmental groups have come out against it since then. The tech is completely flawed, and the film does a great job showing how, but at the same time it isn’t fair in how it presents old footage as virtually new.

    The film does a good job at presenting the rampant greenwashing taking place, the immense difficulty of fully replacing fossil fuels, and the subversion of environmental movements by corporate influence, but it doesn’t fully make the case on these points, and some questionable editing creates holes in the honesty of the presentation.

    Because of its flaws, and because it doesn’t lay out the full scope of our environmental destruction in anything but a cliff notes version of a cliff notes version, I don’t think it will do much to convince others of the necessity of its ending message of limiting growth on this planet. Still, I think it’s a worthy entry as an environmental documentary that should be watched by anyone interested in our predicament.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Some of this is fair, but Gibbs make a gross error by not indicating the net effect of using renewables instead of fossil fuels. Yes, renewables are largely made by fossil fuels, but 1) what is the actual energy output of these renewables when compared to the fossil fuels used to make them, and what are the pollutive effects of using fossil fuels instead of renewables for that same amount of energy?

      It’s so frustrating to have people pointing out the bootstrapping costs (e.g., using fossil fuel energy to create a wind turbine blade) in the transition to renewable energy as an example against renewable energy. It’s like pointing out that a company can’t be profitable because it needs to borrow money for startup costs.

  6. redskylite Says:

    Peter – thanks for celebrating/reminding us of Earth day 2020 with well crafted videos. A pity we’ve been blown off course by a completely new blogger and a craftily timed release of documentary that has been negatively fact checked and withdrawn from release (outside of the internet). It seems it has attempted to hi-jack the spirit and thrust Earth Day 2020.

    ===============================================

    “In the end, this 50th Earth Day will come. And go. That much is clear. What is far less clear at this point is the potential impact, physically and psychologically, that the eventual post-coronavirus era will have on public and political attitudes toward addressing the climate challenges still confronting the planet. Will the 60th, or 70th, or even centennial celebration of Earth Day find the coronavirus lessons fully learned and applied to climate change? Will the global climate by then have been healed, or still ailing and even far more so?”

    https://climatenewsnetwork.net/our-extraordinary-50th-earth-day/

  7. Sir Charles Says:

    WMO: Earth Day highlights Climate Action


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