Hollywood loves a good disaster. Some of the greatest box-office hits have featured frightening apocalyptic scenarios in which planet earth is about to be wiped out, or at least its inhabitants get a really good scare along the way. I actually enjoy seeing these flicks, as they offer a nice, short-term escape from reality.
Consider for example the 1998 film Deep Impact in which an ambitious young female reporter is trying to uncover and expose some earth-shaking story involving the White House. She thinks she is on to something big when she learns of ‘Elle’. ‘Aha, another sex scandal, maybe even involving the President or another high-ranking politician.’
But as she does an internet search, she comes across this: “E.L.E.”. It stands for Extinction Level Event, and she soon finds out at a Presidential press conference that there is no sex scandal, but something a bit worse: there is a huge, seven-mile wide comet heading directly to planet earth. Extinction is the likely result.
It seems the political left has watched a few too many of these end of the world films. Leftists have long been running with Chicken Little narratives, and ELE events associated with environmental catastrophe have always been among their favourite scare tactics. And the current crop of American Democrats are making an art form out of all this.
Recall that the perennial moonbeam Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told us recently – and with a straight face as well – that we just have 12 years to go before we are all toast. As she said two months ago now, the clock is ticking: “Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’”
Not to be outdone, newly announced American presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke from Texas told us that we are all facing extinction. As he said in his opening salvo for a 2020 Presidential bid, global warming “could, at its worst, lead to extinction”
OK, and this from the same guy who assured us that “walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.” Yep, I can see the sense in all that. I guess it is time for me to sell my home, move to a cave somewhere, and await the end of all things. It is Dr Strangelove all over again.
And this just in from that perennial false prophet, Al Gore. He recently told an audience of 2,000 avid supporters: “What is going on in the public square right now is more important than any time since the Civil War. We are facing an ecological crisis that can bring about the end of civilization.” Oh dear.
Plenty of Australians can be found on this bandwagon as well. The most recent example comes from Dr Geoff Hinchliffe of the Australian National University who just made this bleak prophecy: “In 30 years’ time the Australian winter as we know it will be non-existent. It ceases to be everywhere apart from a few places in Tasmania.”
There you have it: three more hyper-alarmist claims which – if what has gone before is anything to go by – will turn out to be equally bogus and fraudulent. If we have even a cursory understanding of recent Western history, we will realise that none of this is new. This is just more grist for the mill of the scare-mongering left. We can simply add these three wild predictions to the never-ending list of failed prophecies about the end of the world that the lunar left has been making for many decades now.
The sad truth is, there have been plenty of these false prophets with their gloom and doom prognostications – especially when it comes to things like overpopulation. In the 1800s British demographer Thomas Malthus got it wrong on this issue, and since then many have followed suit. In the 1960s there were plenty of false prophets, most notably Paul Erhlich. He predicted in his 1968 book The Population Bomb that millions of Americans would die of starvation by the 1980s.
Like Malthus before, he got it wrong big time. Indeed, he was so confident of his gloom and doom scenario that he accepted a wager by economic demographer Julian Simon. Simon asked Ehrlich to select any five metals in 1980, and see if they were more expensive a decade later, being scarcer.
Ehrlich avidly agreed, only to have to pay up ten years later for losing the bet. Simon knew that population was in fact the answer to environmental problems, given the nature of innovation and technological development. If one resource becomes scarce, alternatives are often developed or found. A free market economy, coupled with human ingenuity and creativity, are the best answers to natural resources scarcity.
But the doomsayers continue to make their false prophecies, and they continue to demand draconian solutions to the perceived problem. Many of these are actually coercive utopians, who in the name of saving the planet, will propose some pretty inhumane and Big Brother-like solutions.
Indeed, they really are human-hating “humanitarians”. Sticking with the population alarmists, consider just one more of these cases from our recent past. A decade ago we had the case of one academic from the University of Western Australia, Barry Walter, who told the Medical Journal of Australia that in order to save the planet, evil child-producing parents must be slugged with draconian penalties.
He actually said that families should pay a $5000-plus baby levy at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 a child. He also opined that every couple with more than two children should be taxed to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child’s lifetime.
Some of these proposals to make us all greener seem to be proposals to make us all dead – or at least some of us dead. In their zeal to save the planet, they are often quite willing to view humans as expendable at best, or a plague at worst. Indeed, some of them really don’t seem to like people at all.
And of course all their doomsdayism is always a great coverup for what the left really wants: total control. What better pretext to extend the power of the state and limit the power of individuals than to convince us that we are all doomed unless the government steps in and takes some radical steps to “fix” things?
But the really scary thing here is how many of these alarmists are now becoming mainstream. Indeed, one of them soon might occupy the Oval Office, or take up residency in the Lodge. It is at that point that I will certainly join in and exclaim, “We are all doomed!”
Bill Muehlenberg is a Melbourne cultural commentator.
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