Apocalypse Now! Eco-Expert Warns Civilization Will 'Collapse,' World We Know To 'Disappear'

By Dan Gainor | January 12, 2013 | 1:38pm EST

If at first you don't succeed... Author Paul Ehrlich, who wrote a best seller in 1968 warning of "The Population Bomb," is still predicting the end of the world 45 years later. His latest piece, "Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?," warns of the danger of an "array of environmental problems."

Ehrlich told the Inter Press Service News Agency, "We're all scared." He listed a wide variety of potential problems from a "'small' nuclear war'" to "famines, epidemics and resource shortages."

No matter what the cause, the result would be bad. "In either case, regardless of survivors or replacement societies, the world familiar to anyone reading this study and the well-being of the vast majority of people would disappear," he explained.

This latest effort was published Jan. 8, 2013, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The 10-page analysis warns we need "to phase out more than half of the global use of fossil fuels by 2050" to prevent the worst of global warming. His suggestion to accomplish that? Energy companies "would have to leave most of their proven reserves in the ground."

Of course, Ehrlich's latest claim sounds familiar to his 1968 Malthusian argument. "The human predicament is driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens' aggregate consumption," he wrote. Population size continues to be his biggest concern, adding, "Widely based cultural change is required to reduce humanely both population size and overconsumption by the rich."

Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, co-wrote the latest disaster tract with his wife Anne.

He has long been known for his hyperbolic claims, though he actually considers his famous book to be "way too optimistic" despite his many failed predictions. In "The Population Bomb," he called for "immediate action" to cut population or American children would end up starving. One of Ehrlich's predictions included this line: "If our current rape of the watersheds, our population growth, and our water use trends continue, in 1984 the United States will quite literally be dying of thirst."

On the Jan. 11, 1990, "Today" show, it wasn't arid land to be feared, but rather too much water as ecologist Paul Ehrlich predicted: "The Supreme Court would be flooded. You could tie your boat to the Washington Monument."

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