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The Four Horsemen of the Environmental Apocalypse - Malthus, Ehrlich, Toffler & Gore

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 6 11

A Pale Rider

An Apocalypse Rider

Throughout the history of man, there has been an almost endless series of doomsayers who proclaim that some event or another will cause the immediate, utter and irrevocable doom of the entire human race. More problematically, they say, it might cause some harm to Mother Earth herself. By and large, events have proven them wrong.  In case you hadn’t noticed, the human race is still here and, in fact, there are more of us than ever before.

From this fact, a sapient mind would conclude that it simply does not pay to bet against the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the human race. The will to succeed and survive is an exceedingly powerful impulse. For every calamity there is a solution and the current ones are no different. Here are three men who couched their theories in the guise of science but, in the end, are revealed as nothing more than simpletons and charlatans who couldn’t pass a high school chemistry test.



The Reverend Thomas Malthus

Thomas Malthus was an early eighteenth century English scholar whose views on the future of the human race were most significantly informed by his reading of the Bible. In his mind, the resources of the Earth had been allocated so as to teach man the virtues of temperance and humility. In other words, no less than God himself has placed a cap on the number of creatures that He created in his own image. It is a remarkable disconnect for a man so devoted to the Almighty.

Unfortunately, Malthus never heard that past history does not guarantee future results.  In complete opposition to Malthus’ predictions, the population of the Earth skyrocketed. For the rest of his life, Malthus would maintain, in a very general way, that the positive checks (his words) of starvation, disease and war would soon check any population growth. Despite unprecedented wars, genocides, plagues and famine, the population of the Earth continues to rise. It’s a good bet that Malthus is still denying the fact, wherever he is.



Paul Ehrlich
Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D

Unlike, the esteemed Reverend Malthus, Professor Paul Ehrlich, at least, had the strength of his convictions to make a specific prediction. In his book, The Population Bomb, written in 1968, the professor stated, unequivocally, that there would be mass starvation on the order of hundreds of millions of people in the 1970s and 80s. The only good thing about this book and its prophecy is that the good professor neglected to credit his coauthor and wife, Anne, thereby saving her the public humiliation of being associated with this fiasco.

Since publication, the professor has claimed unashamedly, year after year, for four decades, that mass starvation is only a year or two away. Something must be done, he claims. Not incidentally, this guy’s main solution to the perceived overpopulation in the world is forced sterilization of mass portions of the population. Of course, the entire faculty of Stanford University of which the professor is a member would be exempt.

Dr. Ehrlich - his area of expertise is butterflie - has made other high profile predictions.  One of the most notable is his prediction that a massive scarcity of natural resources in the 1980s would, again, precipitate a significant diminishing of the human population in the 1990s. When confronted by an actual expert, Julian Simon, Dr. Ehrlich foolishly made a bet involving the prices and therefore availability of various natural resources. Not surprisingly, the amateur Ehrlich lost in a spectacular fashion. While the esteemed doctor lamely  stated that the results were not truly indicative of his thesis,  he did pay off the bet.



Alvin Toffler
Alvin Toffler

Renowned as the world’s foremost “futurologist,” Mr. Toffler is remarkable in that he has no baccalaureate degree although he has accumulated a raft of honorary doctorates. His area of expertise  is somewhat vague although he seems to concentrate on fabricating societal cataclysms out of whole cloth. His first book, Future Shock, is a perfect example.

Written in 1970, the main thesis of the book is that the coming change from an industrial to a super industrial - yes, industrial -  society will cause an information overload in the world population. Not surprisingly, Mr. Toffler completely misses the point of the information revolution and merely constructs a dystopian society from his what he knows. There is no prognostication here, simply poorly executed extrapolation.

For  Mr. Toffler, "future shock" is a sickness that comes from too much change in too short a period of time. The most truly stunning aspect of the book is how egregiously Mr. Toffler underestimated the pace of technological change. While, admittedly, we have the benefit of hindsight, his greatest concerns are profoundly laughable.

For instance, too much choice in the marketplace is one of his bugbears. There are too many cereals, too many TV channels and  even, for this esteemed intellectual, too many books. Perhaps, he should move to North Korea or even Russia and thereby counteract the information overload caused by too many packaged cereals and non-network TV channels.

What sort of cretin does it take to decry the advance and dissemination of knowledge? The answer is obvious, Alvin Toffler. By the way, his distaste for books did not stop him from publishing several more in the coming decades.


Al Gore(100454)
Albert Gore, Jr., A.B.

Do not say the words “global warming” in the presence of Albert Gore Jr. By his own admission, that term is outdated and does not fit his current thesis. Instead, the current environmental catastrophe must be referred to as “global climate change.” Sound familiar? This relatively new phrase allows Vice President Gore (again no doctorates other than honorary ones) to skirt the fact that global temperatures have dropped since the year 2000.

Since at least 2007 and as recently as 2009, the ex-vice President has contended that the entire Arctic ice cap could soon melt and substantially raise the level of the Earth’s oceans on the order of two to twenty feet.  An absurd conclusion that flies in the face of common scientific principles.  Before you have a hissy fit (a technical term for the reaction environmentalists have to inconvenient facts), please consider and understand one thing;  the Arctic ice cap has no landmass under it.


What does this mean?

The fact that there is no land mass under the Arctic ice means that., essentially, the Arctic ice cap is one gigantic ice cube. As anyone who can pass that aforementioned high school chemistry test can tell you, frozen water displaces an equal amount of actual water. Thus, if the Arctic ice cap were to entirely melt tomorrow, the oceans of the world would not rise a single millimeter.

Think of it. If the esteemed Mr. Gore can get such a basic principle incorrect, should you trust his judgment on anything even vaguely scientific? Chicanery does not begin to describe the machinations of this imbecile. He grows tobacco for a living but decries its use, has a house with an environmental footprint of a small village but demands that others use expensive light bulbs and attends global climate conferences via a large private jet but would require that you use a bicycle.


Al Gore
The Back End of the Horse

No one in their right mind wants to see unnecessary environmental damage. Every parent wants a better world for their children. The utter idiocy and agenda of “enlightened” politicians and amateurs, however, does nothing to promote this agenda. The truth is quite simple. No one can tell the future and tomorrow is promised to no man. 

So, leave the science to the scientists and not to the politicians and the Hollywood elite. The human race will continue to thrive and expand. Per aspera ad astra.

Lastly, be sure to wave a fond farewell to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Malthus, Ehrlich, Toffler and Gore, as they trot away into the obscurity of the setting sun.



Jun 18, 2012 5:08am
Great article and I like the bits of humor and sarcasm.

I hadn't actually heard of Toffler and Ehrlich, but their "credibility", or lack thereof, speaks for itself.
Jun 18, 2012 6:41am
I love this article. It's a thumb from me.
Jun 18, 2012 7:59am
Great article.
Jun 18, 2012 5:30pm
All of them have a point, in some way or another. Everyone can agree that infinite growth in a finite world isn't possible. At some point our impact will outstrip the Earth's resources, and it does worry me. That said, there are a lot of quacks out there, any anyone endorsing mass sterilization has a screw loose.
Jun 18, 2012 5:49pm
I love this. Yes, I think preserving our environment is important but there are a lot of crackpots out there who are so insane about it that it makes me want to find the crying Indian from the Keep America Beautiful commercials and punch him in his face! (Okay, not really but you get what I'm saying!)

Kudos on the perspective! :)
Jun 18, 2012 6:20pm
The "Indian" in that iconic commercial was actually an Italian-American actor.
Jun 18, 2012 6:28pm
I always loved that commercial as a kid. And that doesn't surprise me; so were most of the "Indians" in Westerns in the early motion picture days.
Jun 22, 2012 8:17pm
Great read! Congratulations on a well deserved feature article!
Aug 15, 2012 10:50am
While I cannot argue that the 4 horsemen above made some grandious clames but i do think that their concern was genuine. Whether you believe in climate change or population bombs is regardeless. The point I believe for all of them that we cannot continue operating in the same way we have in the past. Humanity historically has exhibiated a Boom Bust Mentality. We move to new area and we use every resource we can and then move on always thinking that grass is greener on the other side. With 7 billion of us now is that really a attitude we can afford to adopt?

I sure dont think so.
Aug 27, 2015 3:20pm
Yes, I remember Alvin Toffler and "Future Shock" and I actually think it was Mr. Toffler that couldn't handle the speed of change at the time. However, the same era also gave us for the first time images of the earth from space, which brought a new awareness that our beautiful blue planet is "Spaceship Earth", an isolated island in space with finite resources which we squander at our peril.

Malthus had one thing right, that human populations if not kept in check tend to outrun their available resources. In addition to his positive checks of war, famine and pestilence there is also a fourth which he did not consider - environmental degradation.

Aug 27, 2015 3:21pm
But, having said that, this is a really great article which should give everyone who reads it food for thought.
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