end of the world, road end sign
Photo by Matt Botsford

The world will no doubt end. However, the end of the world cannot be predicted like next week’s weather. So don’t worry. The Earth probably has a few billion good years left in her.

1975 Mass Starvation!

Famine 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Starve (by brothers William and Paul Paddock) was a best seller when it predicted mass starvation around the world because of an increase in population. Paul Ehrlich, President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, said in 1968 that it is, “one of the most important books of our age.”

Well, the opposite happened. Death from starvation has sharply declined as farming techniques improved. In fact, more people died from starvation in the 10 years prior to the book’s release than all the years afterwards.

The End of the World by 2016!

This is probably the most cited end of the world prediction. In 2006, while promoting “An Inconvenient Truth,” with a backdrop of a flooded Manhattan and Florida peninsula, Al Gore said that we only 10 years left on Earth before the world would reach a tipping point. That didn’t stop Gore from buying beach-front property in 2010.

Nations Will Be Erased!

In 1989, Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program said: “Shifting climate patterns would bring back 1930s Dust Bowl conditions to Canadian and U.S. wheatlands.” He claimed, “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 end of the world didn’t happen. Since then, the ocean has risen only 3.5 inches.

Global Cooling!

In 1970, Kenneth Watt, a University of California at Davis professor (specializing in air pollution) claimed, “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” He wasn’t alone. Nigel Calder, a science writer for International Wildlife magazine, predicted in 1980 that by 2030, “the much-advertised heating of the earth by the man-made carbon-dioxide ‘greenhouse’ [will fail] to occur; instead, there [will be] renewed concern about cooling and an impending ice age.”

No, Wait, Global Warming!

Noel Brown (director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program), the same U.N. official who predicted the loss of entire nations by the year 2000 also had this to say: “The most conservative scientific estimate [is] that the Earth’s temperature will rise 1 to 7 degrees in the next 30 years.”

However, the end of the world was not to be. The temperature of the planet only rose about half of a degree Celsius since 1989, so says NASA.

Nuclear Holocaust!

The executive director of the U.N.’s Environmental Program, Mostofa Tolba, claimed: “By the turn of the century [2000], an environmental catastrophe will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible, as any nuclear holocaust.”

Nope. That didn’t happen.

Most Animals Will Be Extinct!

Considered the “Father of Earth Day,” Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, said in 1970: “In 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

That did not happen either. According to researcher Anthony Barnosky at University of California at  Berkeley, said in 2011: “So far, only 1 to 2 percent of all species have gone extinct.” He added it could take as much as 22 centuries for 75 percent of the current animals to go extinct.

No More Metals!

This really isn’t an end of the world claim, but scientist Harrison Brown predicted in Scientific American that lead, zinc, tin, gold and silver deposits would be fully depleted before 1990.

So far, studies from this year show that none of those minerals are near depletion.

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