Number 17 Night Editor: Stuart Gannes
November 23, 1969
THE STORY of Arthur Goodrich began in 1969 with the oil
rush to Alaska. A self-made millionaire, Goodrich secured
at great expense one of the winning bids in the fall
After a number of dry holes. Goodrich struck oil in 1976
and immediately built a pipeline-50 feet in diameter-to
Anchorage. When several more wells came in, the pipe was
filled to capacity.
But early in the winter of 1985, the pipe ruptured. Before
his engineers could plug it, billions of gallons of oil flooded
the tundra grass across several hundred miles.
At first only the caribou, which fed on the tundra grass,
suffered. But soon fish and seals in the Bering Straits emigrat-
ed. Then, Eskimoes starved.
Before the Red Cross and other relief agencies could inter-
vene, however, Alaska disappeared into the Pacific Ocean. The
the oil had without warning seduced the sun's heat, warming the
tundra and melting the perma-frost.
A Red Cross plane radioed back it couldn't find a place
to land. Alaska was a gigantic mud slick. The shifting tundra
had upset the topographic balance and spilled Alaska's main-
land into the ocean.
This scenario, horrifying in the proportions of Hiroshima,
could come true. Although few people care, modern man has
charted a course for himself leading inalterably to disaster.
Suppose, as scientists are predicting, millions are dying of
hunger in 1985. Suppose, as seems probable, the United States is
the only decently-fed country in the world in 1985. Titular
leaders from the Pope to the Chinese premier would be accusing
the U.S. of hoarding food while others starve. But with the
Alaskan affair on its conscience, the U.S. could hardly take
care of its own, let alone the rest of the world.
IMPLICIT IN THESE SUPPOSITIONS is the danger that
we may come to accept and anticipate eco-catastrophes as a
way of solving the biggest crisis of all - the population problem.
If we start from the assumption mass death is required
to insure the survival of the planet, then we might mute our
horror with the homicidal hope these natural disasters were
meant to be. Then the timetable in the middle of this page
becomes not only possible but probable.
Today, in 1969, even conservative scientists are conceding
that a half billion people will die of starvation -if the popula-
tion isn't controlled within the next 15 years. Many more will
die if we accelerate the birth rate, as we are now doing.
Every month a city the size of Chicago is populated.
In 6000 B.C. the population was five million. In 1650 A.D.
it was 500 million. In 1850 it hit onebillion. In 1930 it made
two billion. In 1975 it will be four billion.
If nothing interferes with this rate, it would reach 60
million billion by 2400, putting 100 people on every square yard
of the earth's surface, land and sea.
The point is: something will interfere. If we don't nature
will. Our ecosystem can't support our way of life.
The 1 960's
The Florida Everglades are
roped by army engineers who
dig straight slant canals which
carry off the needed reservoir
of rain water. Flooding else-
where in the park starves rare
species. Because of the con-
struction of the Aswan Dam,
the flow of the Nile is reduced
and the Mediterranean floods
over 1 million acres of farm-
land with saltwater. Smog pre-
vents airplanes from landing in
Detroit, Washington, Los An-
geles and New York City; it is
blamed indirectly in several
crashes. Lake Erie and 40 U.S.
rivers are officially labelled
dead. Thousands of Biafrans
die of hunger. Oil slick off
Santa Barbara blackens beach-
es and upsets the marine ec-
Rubbish fills up San Fran-
cisco Bay and closes down the
harbor. Algae blooms clog
Lake Erie, stopping ships on
the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Smog suffocates 90,000 in Los
Angeles and 50,000 in Chi-
cago-all in one week. Scien-
tists of chemical-biological
warfare at Ft. Dietrich discover
a virus which can't be cured.
Energized plants eliminate all
edible fish in the oceans.
Famines starve millions in
, a i
. . ...e!
The 1 980's
Rubbish fills up the Grand
Canyon and 37 inland lakes.
Nuclear plants along the Great
Lakes heat lake temperatures
to 96.8 degrees F, cooking all
animal life, promoting plant
growth. Los Angeles, New York
City and London are evacuated
because of smog. Nuclear
wastes deposited on the ocean
floor rise to the surface and
contaminate the w e s t e r n
coastline of North America.
Testing in the Aleutian Islands
cracks the San Andreas Fault
and San Fransciso is destroyed.
~ famine is inevitable. "There will be major famines in many
parts of the world before the 180's," he advises.
Those who disagree with him point to the potential "green
revolution" - an inspired refinement of CARE packages. The
"green revolution" would mean introducing hybrid grains, plus
modern farming methods, into underdeveloped countries Im-
One of the things working against it are the underdeveloped
people who don't think it will work, and thus won't cooperate.
They have been conditioned by past experiments to expect
worse instead of better results from Western expertise. In
Turkey, for instance, American agricultural advisors recently
urged farmers to clean up the stones which were littering the
fields so tractors could be used.
The younger, progressive farmers did, and their crops fail-
ed. The older farmers didn't, and their crops flourished. Only
later did the advisors figure out the stones were necessary to
conserve moisture from spring rains. Once removed, the fields
baked the crops.
EVEN THE MOST OPTIMISTIC planners acknowledge
part of the "green revolution" could be based on faulty guess-
ing. Some of the land intended for it has never been farmed
and may be useless.
Additionally, people who doubt our ability often mistrust
American aid seems directed at countries which offer high
returns on the investment. In Iran, where the United States
supports the anti-Communist Shah, American oil companies
ship out 100 tankers full a month. Jobs with the oil companies
are welcome in the capital city of Tehran.
But in the villages, herds of people ration their life on
meager diets. When the famines reach them, they won't stand a
Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, India and China will
need twice as much food by 1985 just to maintain the current
brand of high-starch, low-protein menus.
Unless they're miraculously pepped up with protein pills,
they'll be susceptible to pestilence and plagues of an incom-
prehensible magnitude - probably without precedent in medical
Stacking the odds against a miracle will be the death of the
oceans sometime in the 1980's.
Dr. Paul Erhlich of Stanford University projects oceans
without fish, a main source of protein, due to the increase of
hydrocarbons from polluted rivers.
Perhaps people can adjust to harvesting ocean plants but
not before millions of Asians die.
THE POLITICAL SPIN-OFF from mass starvation is not
nearly as easy to assess. Food riots obviously will be popular,
but revolutions may not be.
"The trouble with a famine, of course, is that people are
starving to death and don't have the strength to beat up their
government," Michaels argues. "The likelihood is that the poor,
the young, the old and the unproductive will be the first to
die ... and the government may therefore become more secure."
But at any time fighting over prize farm lands like Vietnam or
the Ukraine could erupt in thermonuclear war.
die abnormal deaths to reach an equilibrium of one-
two billion, which scientists say would give us another
1000 years of grace to consume the rest of our resources.
Deporting people to other planets is impossible arith-
metically. The only solution appears to be birth control.
Male contraceptives and the rhythm method are 75 per
cent effective. Female contraceptives, from the loop to chemical
foam, are 95 per cent certain. The pills works 99.9 per cent of
Legalized abortion would also slow the birth rate as
dramatized in Japan.
But social and moral taboos make either alternative feebly
tenuous on a voluntary basis. Certainly the United States,
for all its protests against the birth rate of the colored peoples,
has not been pioneering birth control or legalized abortions.
A more likely possibility might be democratic sterilization
through the water system or through the air. Once everyone is
sterile, couples will have to prove their need and ability to
Those with an IQ of less than 100, for instance, would pro-
bably be denied the right to reproduce.
ACCORDING TO ERHLICH, a dictim on sterilization could
come from either a benevolent dictatorship or an enlightened
public. Since the Western world remains tied to Judeo-Christian
ideals, the public seems helplessly shackled.
"It is obvious that the Christian idea is the one held by
most of us," writes Dr. Ehrlich. "God designed and started the
whole business for our benefit. He made the world for us to
dominate and exploit."
With only a 15-year moratorium, we don't really have time
for a socio-political revolution to turn out the Christians in
power - at least, not without gambling on thermonuclear war.
Instead we may have to outwait the first major die-off in
The futurists say we must begin thinking in terms of post-
famine plans, because we may have only a few years to enact
safety devices in our social system to prevent another population
But we seem assured of doing nothing in the interim to make
our chances of survival less precarious.
In 1850 the waste from our technology was horse manure.
which smelled better and decomposed faster than 1969's nuclear
and industrial wastes.
Water pollution will kill our rivers by 2000. Air pollutiov
may change our world. The price we pay for our compulsive-
obsessive natures could be damnation.
For example, the United States (with "all deliberate speed"'
is now trying to ban DDT-once heralded as our savior from
crop-destroying insects. DDT breaks down the calcium in
animals and presumably in man.
The effects of DDT last up to 25 years. Conceivably, if our
genealogy survived the shock, DDT could change our bone
structure so we become amorphous blobs, fit for an equatic
Coincidentally, that's the sort of environment we might have
Should smog encircle the earth, covering the two poles, the
trapped heat will turn the earth into an oven and melt the ice
Besides floods and new salt water rivers, the melting ice
would change the climates-turning farmland into marshes,
cities into deserts and the arctic lands into tropics. Accordingly
one-third the earth's land surface would be under water.
EVEN THEN, THE CHANGES MIGHT not stop. If some
predictions come true we may have to contend with a new ice
age as farmers and hunters rather than as technocrats.
Confronted with such absurd anti awful eco-catastrophes,
we would hide from the consequences. But we cannot. An
anonymous wit recently summed up the crisis: "It is the top
of the ninth. Man, always a threat at the plate, has been hitting
nature hard. It is important to remember, however, that nature
THE UNITED NATIONS Food and Agricultural Organiza.-
tion (FAO) first sounded the alarm of future mass starva-
tion in 1965. FAO plotted the lines of the food and
population curves to intersect at a famine level by 1980.
China and India were pinpointed as the first victims.
But in 1967 the curves began looking better. Prof. G. Gre-
gory Robinson of the natural resources school, who served two
terms in FAO, admits "we have the technology to eliminate
the spectre of hunger for a long time."
But he hedges, "Only if we can produce food everywhere
the way we know how." Most demographic experts think we
won't, even if we could.
Dr. Donald Michaels of the Institute for Social Research
ISR), an internationally-known futurist, believes worldwide
Rubbish piles into two new
mountain ranges, interfering
with prevailing winds and
transforming New England and
Southern California into des-
erts. Algae overruns the Great
Lakes, the lakes flood part of
the Midwest. Pesticides used
in the 1 960's cause epidemics
of rickets in Asian children. A
stockpile of defoliants, being
used in Asia to clear the land
for farming, is accidentally
dumped in the ocean-neu-
trolizing all marine life. Smog
covers the earth, producing a
"green house" effect. Twilight
will be permanent because only
ultra violet heat rays can pene-
trate the screen.
Temperatures will rise and
the ice caps will begin to melt,
flooding coastal cities. Inland,
deserts form. Erosion from
tropical rains falling on the
United States digs canals be-
tween highways, which cover
one-third of the land area.'
The Year 2000
Survivors clump on the South
Pole, the only place on earth
not covered by glaciers from
a new Ice Age or rubbish from
the old industrial era.
"For nation shall rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom; and
there shall be earthquakes in divers
places, and there shall be famines and
troubles: these are the beginnings of
St James version
"While you are reading these words
four people will have died from starva-
tion. Most of them children."
Dr. Paul Erhlimh
The Population Bomb