John Locke Update / Research Newsletter (Archive)

Looking back at the predictions of environmentalists

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This weekly newsletter, focused on environmental issues, highlights relevant analysis done by the John Locke Foundation and other think tanks, as well as items in the news.

1. Looking back at the predictions of environmentalists

In our last newsletter and in a recent blog post I highlighted an article from 2000 that cited a noted climate scientist from the famed Climate Research Unit at England’s East Anglia University predicting that snowy winters were essentially a thing of the past. has decided to expand on this theme featuring an article titled "Eight Botched Environmental Forecasts," which, in addition to the 2000 prediction, looks at seven other predictions from prominent scientists/eco-alarmists that have fallen completely flat. Here are my two favorites from the list.

From Princeton Professor Franz Oppenheimer writing in 1990:

[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots. … [By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.

And from eco-guru Paul Ehrlich writing in 1971:

By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.

What is particularly disturbing is that Oppenheimer and Ehrlich still have credibility with most of the mainstream media, environmental groups, and many policymakers.


2. Texas continues its fight against EPA’s CO2 rules

The state of Texas has won what is at least a temporary victory in its fight against the EPA’s decision to force states to implement CO2 emission requirements in the face of Congress’ refusal to do so. Texas has decided not to go forward with what the EPA is calling the "tailoring rule," which sets emission standards for carbon dioxide that are in clear conflict with the emission standards specifically spelled out in the federal Clean Air Act. In response, the EPA has decided to take over Texas’ emissions permitting process. Texas is now challenging this decision in court and has won a temporary stay of the EPA’s decision. The story is reported on

The John Locke Foundation is advocating that North Carolina join Texas in its resistance to this EPA power grab. My colleague Daren Bakst has written on the subject here.

3. Commentary: Obama as OPEC oil cartel enforcer

The per-barrel price of oil is over $90 and headed north. And as is being reported in The Wall Street Journal, the global oil cartel known as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has something to do with that.

OPEC has not increased its output quotas since January 2009. The key to any successful cartel is control of supply, and the key to controlling supply is keeping competition out of the market. In this regard OPEC has it made.

President Obama has, either intentionally or unintentionally, become OPEC’s cartel enforcement agent. By banning nearly all new oil exploration in the United States, both on and off shore, from Alaska to the Gulf, the Obama Administration is sheltering OPEC from competition and allowing it to restrict supply and raise prices.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, this policy dovetails almost perfectly with the President’s radical environmentalist agenda. He gets the effect of a CO2 tax, namely higher gasoline prices, while not having to take the heat for directly raising taxes. In turn, this translates into an implicit subsidy for electric and hybrid vehicles and fuels like ethanol. In the meantime, the president will get to point his finger at the greedy, money-grubbing oil companies.

All in all, it’s a win-win-win situation — OPEC wins, Obama wins, and the environmental pressure groups win. Heck, it looks like the only losers are the economy and American consumers.

Click here for the Environmental Update archive.

In June 2019 Roy Cordato retired from his full time position as Senior Economist and Resident Scholar at the John Locke Foundation and currently holds the position of Senior Economist Emeritus at the Foundation. From January 2001 to March 2017,… ...

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