The Apocalypse, From Paul Ehrlich to Al Gore

Brent Jessop
Knowledge Driven

“…it would not surprise me if the sea were virtually emptied of its harvestable fishes and shellfish in a few decades or less.” – Paul Ehrlich, 1968 (p96)

While reading Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb* it is hard not to notice the similarities between his arguments and those used to popularize global warming. From the threat of apocalypse to the promise of utopia, from the scourge of big business to the dream of a sustainable society, and the cancer of the earth, man himself.

Previous articles in this series discussed the methods to control the size of the American and world populations; the use of religion, women, and sex education; and the major organizations, environmental groups, foundations and individuals involved.

For convenience sake, pardon the pun, I will compare Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb (1968) with Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth (2006)**, but any global warming book would do. As a sad sign of the times, a lot of Gore’s arguments are described in picture form for our dumbed down society. As a result, some of the “quotes” are more descriptive than reproductive.


[Ehrlich] “We are today involved in the events leading to famine and ecocatastrophe; tomorrow we may be destroyed by them.” – XI

[Ehrlich] “If the pessimists are correct, massive famines will occur soon, possibly in the 1970s, certainly by the early 1980s. So far most of the evidence seems to be on the side of the pessimists.” – 25

[Gore] “The map to the left shows what is projected to happen to soil moisture in the United States with the doubling of CO2, which would happen in less than 50 years if we continue business as usual. According to scientists, it will lead, among other things, to a loss in soil moisture of up to 35% in vast growing areas of our country. And of course, drier soils mean drier vegetables, less productive agriculture, and more fires. Moreover, scientists are now telling us that if we do not act quickly to contain global warming pollution, we will soon barrel right through a doubling of CO2 and move toward a quadrupling, in which case, scientists tell us, most of the United States would lose up to 60% of its soil moisture. [Beside this paragraph is a full page image of a Texas farmer standing in a sea of dried and dying crops.]” – 121


[Ehrlich] “With people living check by jowl, some of mankind’s old enemies, like bubonic plague and cholera, may once again be on the move. As hunger and poverty increase, the resources that nations put into the control of vectors (disease-spreading organisms) may be reduced. Malaria, yellow fever, typhus, and their friends are still around – indeed, malaria is still a major killer and disabler of man. These ancient enemies of Homo sapiens are just waiting for the resurgence of mosquitoes, lice, and other vectors, to ride high again… It is not inconceivable that we will, one of these days, have a visitation from a “super flu,” perhaps much more virulent than the famous killer of 1918-1920.” – 46

[Gore] “Algae is just one of the disease vectors that have been increasing in range because of global warming. And when these vectors – whether algae, mosquitoes, ticks, or other germ-carrying life forms – start to show up in new areas and cover a wider range, they are more likely to interact with people, and the diseases they carry become more serious threats… To cite one important example of this phenomenon, mosquitoes are profoundly affected by global warming. There are cities that were originally located just above the mosquito line, which used to mark the altitude above which mosquitoes would not venture. Nairobi, Kenya, and Harare, Zimbabwe, are two such cities. Now, with global warming, the mosquitoes are climbing to higher altitudes.” – 172

[Gore] “Some 30 so-called new diseases have emerged over the last 25 to 30 years. And some old diseases that had been under control are now surging again. [included are scary black-and-white pictures (under a microscope) of Hantavirus, Machupo Virus, Arenaviridae, Coronavirus, Dengue Fever, Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme Disease), E. Coli, Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever, Legionnaires Disease, Influenza Virus, Nipahvirus, and Tuberculosis.]… West Nile virus” – 174


[Ehrlich] “Ways must be found to bring home to all the American people the reality of the threat to their way of life – indeed, to their very lives.” – 130

[Gore] “At stake is the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth.” – 11


[Ehrlich] “We will have to do without two gas-gulping monster cars per family. We will have to learn to get along with some insect damage in our produce… Such may be the cost of survival. Of course, we may also have to get along with less emphysema, less cancer, less heart disease, less noise, less filth, less crowding, less need to work long hours or “moonlight,” less robbery, less assault, less murder, and less threat of war. The pace of life may slow down. We may have more fishing, more relaxing, more time to watch TV, more time to drink beer (served in bottles that must be returned).” [emphasis in original] – 142

[Gore] “But along with the danger we face from global warming, this crisis also brings unprecedented opportunities. What are the opportunities such a crisis also offers? They include not just new jobs and new profits, though there will be plenty of both, we can build clean engines, we can harness the Sun and the wind; we can stop wasting energy; we can use our planet’s plentiful coal resources without heating the planet.” – 11

[Gore] “We can do something about this! [followed by happy pictures of compact fluorescent bulbs, fuel-cell hybrid busses, solar panels, green roof, electric car powered by hydrogen fuel cell, hybrid car, geothermal power station] ” – 277

[Ehrlich] “If I’m right, we will save the world. If I’m wrong, people will still be better fed, better housed, and happier, thanks to our efforts.” – 179

Global Warming Overlap

Ehrlich, never one to avoid a good doomsday story, did briefly mention climate change as a potential result of over population.

From The Population Bomb:

“Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticides, multiplying contrails, inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too much carbon dioxide – all can be traced easily to too many people.” [emphasis mine] – 44

“But even more important is the potential for changing the climate of the Earth. All of the junk we dump into the atmosphere, all of the dust, all of the carbon dioxide, have effects on the temperature balance of the Earth… The greenhouse effect is being enhanced now by the greatly increase level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the last one hundred years our burning of fossil fuels raised the level some 15%. The greenhouse effect today is being countered by low-level clouds generated by contrails, dust, and other contaminants that tend to keep the energy of the sun from warming the surface as much.

At the moment we cannot predict what the overall climatic results will be of our using the atmosphere as a garbage dump. We do know that very small changes in either direction in the average temperature of the Earth could be very serious. With a few degrees of cooling, a new ice age might be upon us, with rapid and drastic effects on the agricultural productivity of the temperate regions. With a few degrees of heating, the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps would melt, perhaps raising ocean levels 250 feet.” – 38

However, he did not limit himself to climate change as the only way that burning fossil fuels would destroy the environment.

“We are also depleting the world’s supply of oxygen by burning (oxidizing) vast quantities of fossil fuels and by clearing iron-rich tropical soils in which the iron is then oxidized.” – 36

The Real Enemy Then is Humanity Itself

Once people accept either the population control or global warming hysteria they will be lead, quite intentionally, to an unmistakable conclusion: the real problem facing humanity is humanity. Both Ehrlich and Gore are eager to point this out to their readers, below are two examples from each.

[Ehrlich] “I wish I could offer you some sugarcoated solutions, but I’m afraid the time for them is long gone. A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. Treating only the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at first, but eventually he dies – often horribly. A similar fate awaits a world with a population explosion if only the symptoms are treated. We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions. The pain may be intense. But the disease is so far advanced that only with radical surgery does the patient have a chance of survival.” – 152

[Gore] “Global warming, along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats, is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc: it is us.” 10

[Ehrlich] “… must take a stand to protect mankind from himself.” – 182

[Gore] “Each one of us is a cause of global warming…” – 278


The purpose behind blaming humanity itself for a perpetually emerging apocalypse is way beyond the scope of this article, but it is very intertwined with both sustainable development and world government. Some closing words to ponder.

“In searching for a new enemy to unite us [all of humanity], we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. In their totality and in their interactions, these phenomena constitute a common threat which as the enemy, we fall into the trap about which we have already warned, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.” – Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider, The First Global Revolution: A Report by the Council of The Club of Rome (1991).

*Quotes from: Paul R. Ehrlich. The Population Bomb: Revised & Expanded Edition (1968, 1971). SBN 345-24489-3-150.
** Quotes from: Al Gore. An Inconvenient Truth (2006). ISBN-13:978-1-59486-567-1.

Related Articles

The Population Bomb Part 1: How to Control the AMERICAN Population by Paul Ehrlich

The Population Bomb Part 2: How to Control the WORLD Population by Paul Ehrlich

The Population Bomb Part 3: Population, Religion and Sex Education

The Population Bomb Part 4: Those Involved in Population Control



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