15. PBS airs ten-part Race to Save the Planet series filled with dire predictions that the world would face “enormous calamities in a very short time.” (1990)
In 1990, the panic over global warming was in full swing, and from October 7 to 11, PBS aired ten hours of a series gaudily titled Race to Save the Planet. The show’s host was Meryl Streep, who proclaimed: “By the year 2000, that’s less than 10 years away, the Earth’s climate will be warmer than it’s been in over 100,000 years. If we don’t do something, there will be enormous calamities in a very short time.” Earth Day founder Denis Hayes suggested that without an environmental revolution, man could cause “planetary death.”
Biologist Larry Harris stood in Florida predicting “the sea will come up about one foot within the next 25 to 40 years. That means that the edge of the sea, that we’re standing on today, will occur 10 miles north of here by about the year 2010.” Florida hasn’t exactly suffered a dramatic loss of land mass in the last 20 years, as the show suggested in a animated section, in which Cape Cod and Long Island also shrunk dramatically. Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute saw doom even earlier, in the 1990s: “The future food security of the world is becoming more and more questionable. We could see food security replace military security as the principal preoccupation of many governments in the world during the 1990s.”
PBS glorified Earth Day, complete with school kids in 1970 organized to sing “Oil drops are falling on their heads/And that surely means that soon they will all be dead.” In one definitive passage, the narrator, actor Roy Scheider, insisted humans have poisoned the planet with pollution, made waterways unusable, and created “unmanageable piles of garbage filled with the squandered resources of the planet.” Man is overpopulating and will have trouble surviving from farmland “eroded to the breaking point,” he concluded. “It will be a world in which wild things have no room to live. A world in which forests have disappeared. Only the environmental revolution can save the planet from this fate.” Over the entire series, not a single skeptical scientist or politician was interviewed to challenge these lame predictions.
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