Article Title

Gore Wars


Unless you've been frozen in carbonite or are hopelessly gullible, it must have occurred to you at some point during the last three decades that environmental activists are exaggerating just a bit when they claim that, unless we dramatically change our way of life, we'll soon see the end of civilization as we know it. I'm not sure when these doomsday predictions got started - probably they go back to Malthus and beyond - but I first became aware of environmental Jeremiadism in college in the early 1970s, when tout-le-monde were reading a little book called The Limits to Growth. Authored by a group of scientists going by the pretentious name "The Club of Rome," the book was designed as a shrill wake-up call to a complacent humanity headed for environmental disaster. Filled with charts, tables and diagrams, and supported by computer-generated predictions (a new-fangled tool at the time), The Limits of Growth made some very concrete and highly alarming predictions: "there will . . . be a desperate [arable] land shortage before the year 2000"; we would run short of gold by 1979, of silver and mercury by 1983, of petroleum by 1990, of zinc by 1988, of tin by 1985 and of natural gas by 1992. The book's forceful message was that we were headed for a world-wide calamity, and must fundamentally - and immediately - change the way we live. Nor was this merely a question of physical survival; at stake was humanity's very soul: "The crux of the matter is not only whether the human species will survive, but even more whether it can survive without falling into a state of worthless existence."