Doomed Planet

A history of scientific alarms


From the IPA Review


A history of scientific alarms

There is a long and dismal history of alarming forecasts that were literally too bad to be true. But many people believed these predictions that human actions would harm the environment and thereby cause disaster for people. As early as 1798, Thomas Malthus predicted that the human population would grow beyond the ability of the environment to support it. Before him, Socrates bemoaned the loss of forests around Athens. Arguably the most harmful alarm was about DDT, the banning of which has cost many millions of lives …

The media are culpable in promulgating these false alarms. Though regrettable, the weakness is understandable: alarms are news. Rational sceptical responses require time and effort to assemble, and don’t have the same emotional urgency. We have to follow closely to ever learn that an alarm has been shown to be false, and most of us are too busy to do that …

Here then, in brief, is a Top 20 of environmentalist alarms and their outcomes. Please, let’s learn from them by not being so gullible!

Read the 20 most unscientific scares  at the IPA Review

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