The Dawn of Overpopulation Dynamics: Earth Day 1970

By Frosty Wooldridge
Volume 29, Number 2 (Winter 2019)
Issue theme: "When Liberals Were For Sensible Policies - on the Environment, Immigration, and the National Interest"

In my senior year at Michigan State University, I attended Earth Day with fellow students across campus. People walked around with peace signs, tie-dye T-shirts and sandals. Dozens of booths featured stories on our dwindling water supplies, air pollution, and species extinction.

One booth caught my attention:human overpopulation. It featured Paul Ehrlich’s book, he Population Bomb. I read the book in a week. It captivated me on multiple levels, but I didn’t possess a foundation of reference for its premise. At the time, China approached 1 billion people and India exploded its own population toward that seven-figure number. Both countries carried two-thirds of the human race at 3.5 billion people living around the globe. Today, China stands at 1.4 billion and India exceeds 1.2 billion, on her way to 1.55 billion by 2050 according to United Nations projections.

Even with my college education and a teaching certificate, I really didn’t understand human overpopulation nor its impact on the planet. But I remember two movies of that era: Soylent Green with Edward G. Robinson, along with Charlton Heston, and The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman and Ann Bancroft. I especially remember that I thought it very reasonable to have humans choose a gracious way out of this life rather than suffering with tubes and machines hooked up to our bodies to keep them artificially alive. The point I remember in The Graduate stemmed from the corporate guy telling Hoffman, “Plastics are the future of America, son, you got to get into plastics.”

In 1970, the United States housed a paltry 196 million people. No one thought much about gridlock traffic, air pollution, or quality of life. Canada ran less than 20 million and Europe housed 660 million. No one heard about starvation affecting humans in Africa, India, or China. Gasoline cost 29 cents a gallon. Muscle cars dominated the highways. “See the USA in your Chevrolet….”

What’s the big deal about human overpopulation?

Five years previous to Earth Day, little did anyone think about the fact that our U.S. Congress, led by freshman U.S. Sen. Teddy Kennedy, along with Howard Metzenbaum and Jacob Javits, pushed through the most dangerous bill in U.S. history, without debate: The 1965 Immigration Reform Act. It changed the immigration numbers from 1924, which allowed between 175,000 and 200,000 legal immigrants annually (from mostly Western countries), to 1,000,000 annually. But after that bill passed, immigrants arrived from 196 different countries with no understanding of the impact against our environment, culture, or English language of our country. They especially failed to understand the impact of incompatible religions and ethos of cultures being swept into America.

Metzenbaum said, “We’ve opened the floodgates.”

From that moment in U.S. history, we might tag Senator Teddy Kennedy as “The Father of the Destruction of America.” That single bill jumped U.S. population from 196 million to 300 million within 54 years to 330 million, (not counting 22 to 25 million illegal aliens and their children, per a Yale Research Study, September 2018). If allowed to continue, endlessly increasing immigration and birthrates promise to explode America’s population to 440 million by 2050 and 625 million by 2095.

That same bill altered the ethnic makeup of America from 90 percent European-American, 7 percent African-American, and 3 percent Latino-American—to radically change it to 51 percent Latino dominance by 2042. Caucasian-Americans will become the new minority. The U.S. will become a minority-minority civilization. (Source: Pew Research Center,

At the same time Earth Day called for population stabilization, Western countries’ women agreed to two children per family as a logical, rational, and environmentally safe way to provide an abundant future for all life on planet Earth.

Unknown to most Americans, a citizen-activist visionary, Dr. John Tanton, also a Michigan State graduate, facilitated a new upstart organization titled: Zero Population Growth. Tanton will go down in history along with Ehrlich as two of the most visionary men on this planet. They saw the future and they attempted to change it toward a viable planet for all life.

Unfortunately, the rest of the leaders of the world ignored their mandates. While first world countries stabilized their populations, third world countries exploded to add 4.1 billion people from 1965 to 2019. They caused human population to more than double to 7.6 billion today. If left unattended, humanity grows at 1 billion every 12 years, net gain, and, if allowed, will reach 10 billion by mid-century or soon thereafter.

At the same time, I began teaching math-science in Denver, Colorado. Since I didn’t make much money, but I enjoyed three months off every summer, I traveled via bicycle. In 1984, I traveled through China all the way from Hong Kong to the Great Wall of China north of Beijing.

That journey along with traveling through India changed my entire world view. I witnessed what Ehrlich and Tanton wrote about. I saw people stacked upon people, buildings packed upon buildings, and humanity devouring the landscape. I saw air and water pollution with no solutions. A person cannot understand the full magnitude of something until they see it in person. In India, I witnessed human misery on a level unknown to Westerners. According to the Indian Express, 60 percent of Indians lack access to toilets. Thus, the Ganges River, along with the Yangtze River in China run into the ocean as open sewers, filled with chemicals, human waste, plastics, garbage, and industrial waste heretofore unknown in human history. Those rivers contaminate all the fish and marine life around the world. Not to be outdone, the Mississippi River features a 10,000-mile “dead zone” at its mouth from so much industrial and chemical waste being expelled 24/7.

The “coup de grâce” occurred when I traveled into Bangladesh, a country less than the size of Iowa, but which houses 161 million people.Can you imagine half of America’s population living in Iowa? Worse, Bangladesh expects to reach 201 million by 2050, because they refuse to engage or enjoy access to birth control. At some point in Asia’s population juggernaut, we may expect to see the ramifications of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” And I can tell you from firsthand experience in my six continents of travels, that famine, disease, pestilence, and conflict—once commencing—cannot be stopped or controlled. You might call them, for lack of a better word:Darwin’s payback.

Along the same time Ehrlich and Tanton spoke to the future, another physics genius, Dr. Albert Bartlett, my friend of 30 years in Boulder, Colorado, created a program titled: Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. His program graphically showed the consequences of “exponential growth” for any organism on this planet. As to continued human expansion, he said, “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases of population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

Additionally, Bartlett said, “No species can overrun the carrying capacity of a finite land mass. This Law cannot be repealed and is not negotiable.”

While humanity looks down the double barrels of an overpopulation shotgun with both hammers pulled back in 2019, the human race races toward another three billion of its kind within 30 years.

Ironically, in America, we face acute water shortages in seven states. We face impending oil exhaustion as early as 2040 (Source: the Hubbert Curve). We face resource depletion (Source: Scarcity by Chris Clugston). And the ugly reality looms large: we lack any kind of alternative energies or resources to replace oil or non-renewable resources. We flat-out cannot maintain or sustain our horrendously overpopulated cities and civilizations into the future.

“As we go from this happy hydrocarbon bubble we have reached now to a renewable energy resource economy, which we do this century, will the “civil” part of civilization survive? As we both know, there is no way that alternative energy sources can supply the amount of per capita energy we enjoy now, much less for the 10 billion expected by 2050. And energy is what keeps this game going. We are involved in a Faustian Bargain—selling our economic souls for the luxurious life of the moment, but sooner or later the price has to be paid.” according to Walter Youngquist.

We create a Faustian Bargain whereby we grab our economic wealth for the prosperity of the moment to bequeath an untenable future for “seven generations” in the future. But future generations will pay, big time!

Ironically, if you drove your car into the night with low oil pressure, your dashboard would flash blinking red warning lights. You would stop and pour more oil into the engine. But if the oil, water, brakes, alternator, transmission, and other lights blasted off the dashboard, you would be forced to stop. You would not reach your destination. If you kept driving, your entire car would break down at horrific costs to you at the repair shop.

Right now, in 2019, top scientists around the world punch the red warning buttons on the dashboard of our biosphere: oceans being destroyed; air and ozone polluted; Sixth Extinction Session; carbon footprint usurping the balance of carbon PPM at over 400; starvation levels at 12 million humans annually according to the United Nations; krill in oceans dying, and another dozen red flashing warning lights.

But you won’t see any world leaders addressing human overpopulation!

Harvard scholar and biologist E.O. Wilson said, “The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people, but to poor ideology and land-use management, is sophistic.”

Oxford University Professor Norman Myers’ 40-year study on extinction rates stated that we lose 80 to 100 species 24/7. Humans poison their habitat or outright bulldoze it into housing projects. Do you hear a word about it in the mainstream press? Nada!

As to immigration of all those desperate millions, the United Nations states that 250,000,000 (million) refugees expect to migrate to anywhere they can land in the coming 30 years. And, mostly that will be America, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

“Most Western elites continue urging the wealthy West not to stem the migrant tide [that adds 80 million net gain annually to the planet], but to absorb our global brothers and sisters until their horrid ordeal has been endured and shared by all—ten billion humans packed onto an ecologically devastated planet.” Dr. Otis Graham, Unguarded Gates

Remember The Graduate? Today, those plastics overwhelm our oceans to kill millions upon millions of marine and avian life annually. Scientists tell us that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic float on the surface or drift below the waves. Researcher Julie Whitty of OnEarth Magazine documented that 46,000 pieces of plastic float on every square mile of the Earth’s oceans. Pathetic, because not one soft drink company or bottled water company will call for a 25-cent deposit-return law in America or worldwide. Profits over everything else! As a scuba diver for 55 years in all the oceans of the world, I can attest that we’ve destroyed the oceans with plastics, chemicals, and debris like billions of tires.

The poison factory of the world, Monsanto (now Bayer), creates more deadly poisons, totaling from all chemicals at over 70,000 worldwide, which we inject into the air, water, and land 24/7. They’re killing bee colonies at a rip-roaring rate of speed, but again, profits over common sense. Money buys them out of every responsibility to the planet and its eco-systems. And their GMOs destroy the foundation of DNA in Nature!

With humans galloping toward 10 billions of themselves onto this planet in a blink of time, what can we do to save ourselves?

Solutions for changing the course of history toward a viable, thriving planet!

First, we need an annual national-international conference of every country’s top leaders, corporation heads, and religious leaders of all the main religions worldwide. We need to educate them with the facts of how fast our planet degrades with the human onslaught. We need them to agree to act in their countries as to birth control, air pollution, water pollution, resource usage, and the main deleterious factors facing humanity.

Second, we need all of them to see Roy Beck’s 5-minute video: Immigration, Gumballs and Poverty. For all American conferences, we need to also show Roy Beck’s 10-minute video: Immigration off the Charts. (Beck’s videos could be customized for every country.)

Third, we need corporations to fund birth control education and accessibility to birth control worldwide for millions throughout the third world. Why? Because as our huge cities collapse from lack of water, energy, and resources—so too, will all those corporations collapse.

Fourth, we need national and then international cooperation for a 25-cent deposit-return law incentive to return all plastics, glass, metal, aluminum, and other indestructible mercantile products back to the recycling centers worldwide in order to clean up the oceans.

Fifth, we must seriously and graciously stabilize and decline the world’s human population by introducing a voluntary one child per woman worldwide in order to bring the human population into balance with the carrying capacity of this planet.

Sixth, we must place all our scientific efforts to make alternative energy viable, transportable, and accessible everywhere in the world. That means wave, ocean currents, solar, river, wind, thermal, hemp, cane, and other forms of energy that will stop carbon output once and for all.

Seventh, what ideas can you forward to save humanity and all life on this planet in the twenty-first century?

Let’s add each of our voices to the roaring voice of human creativity and common sense in the twenty-first century. Let’s speak up and speak out. Let’s engage the billionaires like Gates, Bezos, and others to fund campaigns to educate, organize, and activate humans around the globe. Let’s use Social Media to educate and activate every citizen of every country to live and work toward a healthy, thriving, and environmentally viable future for all living creatures on planet Earth. ■

About the author

Frosty Wooldridge, a math-science teacher in Golden, Colorado, has bicycled across six continents in the past 40 years to see world conditions and countries up close and personal.  He speaks at civic groups, political clubs, and colleges around the U.S. on immigration, population, and quality-of-life issues facing America. He may be reached at: How to Live a Life of Adventure.