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Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb was a dud and how it relates to the EMP bomb

Posted by John T. Reed on

Today’s Wall Street Journal column by Karl Rove has a better version of something I recently said. For several years, I have been condemning fear of nuclear war in general and EMPs in particular. A PhD with impressive credentials—Dr. Pry—says an EMP today would result in 90% of Americans dying of starvation.
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Rove’s column notes that this month is the 50th anniversary of Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb. Ehrlich is a tenured professor of biology at Stanford (still). Ehrlich is arguably the intellectual father of one of the greatest mass murders in history, including China’s one-child policy and sterilization of Indians.
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Dr. Erlich’s 1968 book predicted millions dying of starvation—far short of the 300 million Americans Pry says will die just in the U.S. Ehrlich said England would disappear by 2000 and that the average American’s lifespan would be 42 by 1980.
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In that year, a more optimistic professor Julian Simon bet Ehrlich that prices of five commodities picked by Ehrlich would fall by 1990, because of human ingenuity in finding and refining them notwithstanding the increasing population between 1980 and 1990. Ehrlich said they would rise due to massive shortages of everything caused by too many people.
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Rove attributes such doom sayers to a “desire to boss everyone else around.” I disagree. I think Ehrlich’s motive is found in the beginning of that sentence in the article:
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“Mr. Ehrlich’s book sold three million copies, and his crabbed worldview became an unquestioned orthodoxy for the technocratic class...”
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Actually, it’s both. Anti-war, anti-military, pro-Communist, pro-socialist activists have been trying to scare the wits out of Americans and the world about nuclear war since 1945.. And they have succeeded.
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Take the notion of nuclear winter. It says that a nuclear war would kick up so much soot and dust that there would be massive prolonged global cooling and everyone would die in a new ice-age or die from crop failure and famine. Sound familiar?
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Initially, nuclear winter was said to be caused by nitric oxide fireballs. Then that was discredited. So they came up with a new theory—soot from more normal fires—but retained the desired effect.
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Then they “proved” nuclear winter with computer models. That should also sound familiar. “Climate change” is based not on climate science but on computer models that are supposedly use climate science. Even if they do, computer models inject model error into massive calculations. Richard Turco invented the phrase “nuclear winter” in 1983 but later distanced himself from the model predictions.
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Similar “winter” predictions were tossed out when Saddam Hussein set all the Kuwait oil wells on fire. They did not come true. 
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The original modelers have changed their prediction to a “small nuclear winter.” The main error in the nuclear winter predictions seems to be that they exaggerate the degree to which sunlight would be blocked and the duration of the blockage. There are massive fires from other causes annually and the blockage of sunlight and duration of it falls far short of the nuclear winter marks. 
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Rove’s and Simon’s main explanation of why Ehrlich’s doomsday did not occur—the opposite did—is the same as my explanation of the EMP response. A billion or more more citizens of the world will apply their intelligence and energy to repairing damage caused by an EMP attack, and they will succeed.
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In the 1980s, the world feared we were all going to die from AIDS. The FDA was ordered to get the hell out of the way and the cocktail that enables HIV-positive people was promptly discovered.
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The people who believe Dr. Pry need to set up a test. By detonating the EMP at a low altitude, they can limit the affected area to the horizon that can be seen from the blast: about a 60-mile radius. So set it off in an unpopulated part of the ocean or near the poles or or over some relatively unpopulated land and put a bunch of computers, vehicles, etc. there to be affected. Compensate anyone there who loses a device containing microchips. Evacuate the people there beforehand so they are not inconvenienced by any electric failures like Bikini Island. The EMP, which does not touch the ground except in the form of EMP waves, would not do the sort of harm that Bikini did.
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There is a test ban treaty that prohibits such a test. Negotiate a one-time exception for EMP tests by the US, Russia, and China.
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Millions have died or not been born so Ehrlich could sell three million books and become the leader of a doomsday movement. Over a hundred thousand US military personnel have died in futile wars lost because the American people were overly afraid of nuclear war. 
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I am not saying nuclear war would not kill millions and do massive damage. Rather, BECAUSE such wars would do so much harm they would not have been begun had we been stronger in Korea and Vietnam. Nuclear war is plenty bad, but not the end of the world the leftists claim. Also, nuclear wars are so bad that Russia and China would not start one to save the Kim family or Hi Chi Minh.
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EMP probably would do less damage than the Paul Ehrlich of EMPs, Dr. Pry, would have you believe and whatever damage it did would likely be rapidly repaired by the animal spirits of capitalism and plain old survival instinct.

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