Nkrumahism, The Can Of Worms I Opened – Ehrlich The Failed Prophet

Tue, 30 Jun 2015 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

It was at the latter part of the 18th century when Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus famously outlined his population theory. Between that time and Paul Ralph Ehrlich lots of doom prophets have come and gone, but none of these people have been taken seriously by the academic fraternity, because they belonged to some deranged fantasy hallucinatory cults who believed God spoke to them. On the other hand, Ehrlich does not fall into that category, for the reason that he is an academic and, of course, a bug scientist. In my first rebuttal, I dangled tantalising bait and Mr Kwarteng snatched it like a feeding shark. Professor Paul Ehrlich is one of the classic intellectuals that I wouldn’t waste my time to read anymore of his books, because the royalties he had when I bought his book entitled: The Population Bomb, is enough. Naturally, he is a darling of the left environmentalists. The Population Bomb is a perfect specimen of uselessness; it ranks with the likes of Das Kapital. It has been described by one eminent critic as one of the most spectacularly foolish books ever published. This professor who, as usual, has received so many awards made some incredible prophesies, which were proved spectacularly wrong and, yet he holds that the central tenets of his book of doom is still tenable.

Let’s set the stage. In 1798, Robert Malthus developed his Malthusian population theory in ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’. According to him, population tends to increase at a faster rate than its means of subsistence, and that unless it is checked by moral restraint, or by disease, famine, war, or other disaster widespread poverty and degradation inevitably results. Over more than a century and half Malthus was spectacularly proven wrong. You would think that modern intellectuals will take heed from this. Yet, some academics who for the lure of cheap popularity write blatant nonsense without thinking through what they write before publishing. It is obvious that the money which they abhor, when it is made by a capitalist, plays an important role.

Robert Malthus can be pardon for his failed prophesies, because he did not have the benefit of the dizzying scientific, agronomical and mechanical advancement that was achieved in the 20th century as a guide to draw on in his predictions. However, Ehrlich had witnessed even the splitting of the atom what couldn’t the human mind achieve? Yet, he opened his book with this dire preamble: The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate. I read the book in 1995 and it’s been able to gather a bit of dust in my library. At the time, I had not developed the sort of revulsion I have for the left currently, perhaps, I wouldn’t have finished it. In the book he gave some scary figures, which I bet those who read it in 1968 would have experienced real twitching of the stomach muscles. His penchant for weird predictions was not limited to that daft book. He further predicted in an article written in 1970 that there will be four billion deaths from the 80s, as well as 65 million in America. Thank God, nothing of the sort happened, rather the population of the world doubled to 7 billion and counting.

These so called intellectual numbskulls don’t know that the human mind can be endlessly inventive, though I am very suspicious when it comes to its ability to socially engineer our nature. And if an Indian had read it in 1968 he would probably hang himself rather wait for the doomsday. He wrote that, ‘The train of events leading to the dissolution of India as a viable nation is already in motion.’ I believe he wrote that with a straight face suggesting that India should be left to perish rather than waste any available resources on them. Nevertheless, like man has always done since the time of Malthus, a scientist called Norman Ernest Borlaug who specialized in Plant Pathology and Genetics came along with his breakthrough, and Ehrlich’s fire and brimstone prophecy became a damp squib. His huge appetite for Armageddon-like predictions went for the big kill. He wrote during his famous bet with Julian L Simon, ‘By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.’ He didn’t stop there, he went further to write that, ‘If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000’ Don’t be surprised; I am writing this from the British Isle and obesity is now more of a problem than hungry scrawny people.

Strangely, with his boorish mentally handicapped predictions, which are akin to the 20th century mad religious prophets who have gone a bit silent now, he is still not effaced. The reality is they do not incur any cost for writing such infinite nonsense, but laugh all the way to the bank. Regardless of the fact that time has established their stupidity they keep recycling those foolishness. A couple of years back Ehrlich was still insisting that he is right on his predictions. And this is the person that Kwarteng was defending. What does that say about his judgement and why should I consider any of his reading recommendations. All his reading suggestions fall into the same category as Paul Ehrlich. Paul Ehrlich has written so many books, like he always say about his darling writers he reads. Likewise, he has also received so many awards like his uncle Kwame Nkrumah. The following are some of them:

The John Muir Award of the Sierra Club

The Gold Medal Award of the World Wildlife Fund International

A MacArthur Prize Fellowship

The Crafoord Prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and considered the highest award given in the field of ecology

ECI Prize winner in terrestrial ecology, 1993

A World Ecology Award from the International Center for Tropical Ecology, University of Missouri, 1993

The Volvo Environmental Prize, 1993

The United Nations Sasakawa Environment Prize, 1994

The 1st Annual Heinz Award in the Environment (with Anne Ehrlich), 1995[39]

The Albert Einstein Club Commemorative Plaque, 1997

The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, 1998

The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences, 1998

The Blue Planet Prize, 1999

The Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America, 2001

The Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, 2001

Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Generalitat of Catalonia, 2009.

Fellow of the Royal Society of London 2012 [1]

2013 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology

These are quite handsome awards aren’t they? Yes, and Mr Kwarteng is suggesting that when I see these twaddle I should be falling over myself in awe. I was not born yesterday Mr Kwarteng. The human brain is a piece of wonder. It is possible that man can come up with a technology that is able to render all the radiation from the splitting of the uranium atom harmless. When that happens, the possibilities are endless. Who even knows if this earth will still be inhabited five hundred years from now with the sort of technological advancement coming from laboratories?

The combination of education and wealth is what puts an effective break on population explosion. They are all for the former, but when the latter is not equitably distributed they are against it. All the major universities and libraries in American were built by private wealth like Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, John Harvard and many more. The first text book I read on economics, ‘Economics Without Tears’ by Owusu Asante, argued that when you educate a man the first thing he thinks about is a house and a Mercedes-Benz car. Quite obviously, he had a typical Ghanaian taste for cars. To think about it, with no disrespect, most well educated people do not even replace themselves. They think more of their holidays and cocktail parties than children. So, Mr Kwarteng, please tell your friends to stop adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere with the gibberish they talk and write. Thank you.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina