Forests around Norton Virginia


Growing Up Under Armageddon Any Day

by Lewis Loflin

Above are the vast healthy forest that cover 90% or more of Appalachia. In this case my hometown of Norton, Virginia.

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s I observed the first moon landing, lived under the cloud of nuclear war, and heard about pollution and over-population. I was always an avid reader of science and science fiction. Ecological Armageddon was a popular theme, still is today.

The fact the dangers of "nuclear" have been over-hyped by disarmament advocates and Luddites resentful and fearful of technology.

As a poor kid growing up in Appalachia without even a car in the family the Wise County Book Mobile and school library were my only entertainment. Applied science, earth science, and history were my main interests. This fed my love of science fiction.

Looking back today it is easy see popular literature reflects what people are thinking at the time.

There was a lot of literature on our imminent demise by pollution. Earth Day was launched April 22, 1970 on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. He was also an avid lover of Nature and passed laws protecting the environment.

Today "ecology" is the central theme in the far left's war on capitalism, technology, and Western culture in general.

I loved the forests I grew up around in Appalachia and hated strip mining, but never did I take a spiritual or religious view of nature. Nature was then and is today biology 101. Earth science (who couldn't love dinosaurs) means the natural processes of the past are just as relevant today. Ignoring this fact is scientific nonsense.

Science to me is merely the description of material processes in the natural world WITHOUT regard to spirituality, any deity, or endless moralizing. Science is not a democracy - one doesn't get to vote facts. Stories and political rhetoric doesn't replace data or real world experience.

Popular literature I read in childhood days was "The Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart published in 1949. It was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel where a disease wiped out most of humanity and the survivors restarted a new society along the line of the American Indians. Little technology could survive with so few people, not even fire arms.

Another novel was "Star Man's Son" by Andre Norton (born Alice Mary Norton died 2005) was a post nuclear war novel where the survivors that weren't rat-like mutants had also retreated to an 1700s technological level, no firearms. The Star Men were seekers of lost knowledge while the Plainsmen (white) were the new plains Indians. Yes some Indians also survived. This took place years later after the war.

Another nuclear apocalypse novel was "Alas Babylon" by Pat Frank published in 1959. This concerned a family in Florida that survived nuclear war and their struggles. Sorry no mutants.

Nuclear war was a big theme in the 1960s. Atmospheric nuclear testing was thankfully coming to an end. I read about the nuclear testing in the Pacific in particular Bikini Atoll. One story concerned the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (I think the Lucky Dragon?) a Japanese fishing boat that was showered with nuclear fallout. The fallout came from a Bikini nuclear test in 1954. The 23-man crew all suffered radiation poisoning, some died.

This is the origin of the Japanese Godzilla movies it seems. There was a great panic over radioactive tuna at the time.

1980s-1990s

At the end of the 1970s I was in the army stationed in West Berlin. Several novels and newspaper accounts hailed an ice age was due any day due to pollution. Nothing more to say.

Another novel I read was Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. (Published 1984) This was about a limited nuclear war that left America a full of starving cancer patients and people dying of mysterious deceases. Electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) from the bombs destroyed much of the electrical infrastructure.

While this book was anti-war propaganda the EMP theme is still popular theme on many Kindle books at Amazon. Think of the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen in 2009. He testified on this issue before Congress.

Yet no mutants ever emerged at Bikini. And Bikini Atoll a site of about nuclear 30 blasts, wrecked target ships, oil spills, etc. was an environmental disaster on an apocalyptic scale. Yet today while low-level radiation lingers the lagoon has nearly recovered and the atoll is lush and green. The wrecked ships (called the Ghost Fleet) are visited by divers.

Other than sensitive Geiger counters nobody would know nuclear tests ever took place there, other than a large round artificial crater at one end of the atoll.

Common today is those studying Bikini were shocked at the recovery that experts say shouldn't have been, even in a massive blast crater. Then at the end of the report the writer stressed the political position all coral reefs were dying from "climate change" contradicting their own study.

It seems the earth is far more resilient than some want to believe. The fossil record has shown this. This is not to discount the ignorance and abuse of nuclear fission, but unfounded fear-mongering is another issue. Nuclear power is proven technology that does reduce that evil CO2.

From the web and television:

Prominent neo-Malthusians such as Paul Ehrlich maintain that ultimately, population growth on Earth is still too high, and will eventually lead to a serious crisis. The 2007–2008 world food price crisis inspired further Malthusian arguments regarding the prospects for global food supply.

Note there really was no actual shortage of food in 2007-2007. The fact that many dysfunctional and violent nations can't afford food is matter of local politics in most cases. Yes overpopulation and religious violence cause severe problems in particular in Muslim cultures.

See Climate Change Another Excuse for Muslim Religious Violence

Star Trek episode "The Mark of Gideon" concerned over population in a society free of disease where introducing a killer illness to reduce population was sought. Season 3, Ep. 16 1/17/1969. I remember the episode well.

"The second half of the 1960s was a boom time for nightmarish visions of what lay ahead for humankind. In 1966, for example, a writer named Harry Harrison came out with a science fiction novel titled "Make Room! Make Room!" Sketching a dystopian world in which too many people scrambled for too few resources, the book became the basis for a 1973 film about a hellish future, "Soylent Green." In 1969, the pop duo Zager and Evans reached the top of the charts with a number called "In the Year 2525," which postulated that humans were on a clear path to doom."

As I remember Charlton Heston's last words were "Soylent Green is people..." I liked the song by Zager and Evans.

Article title A Sterility Drug in Food is Hinted; Biologist Stresses Need to Curb Population Growth New York Times Nov. 25, 1969 "promoted poisoned water and food supplies to curb population growth. Sterility drugs are to be added to food shipped to 3rd. world countries." Verified by myself.

Paul Ehrlich 31 July, 1974 wrote with John Holdren (Obama's science advisor) predicting a new ice age would be triggered by the use of fossil fuels.

Global Cooling Newsweek April 25, 1975. Some thought this a return to Little Ice Age conditions between 1600 and 1900. They once again bring up over population and starvation.

But what about the global food supply? Farm prices across the world have been falling or are so low raising concerns even more U.S. farms will go out of business. A bushel weighs 60 pounds. As of 10/26/2018 a bushel of corn cost $3.60, wheat $5.00. A 50-pound bag of high protein layer feed for my chickens is about $14. 50-pounds of cracked corn/wheat feed is $9.00.

In 2016 the world produced 749 million metric tons of wheat. In 2017-2018 1.07 billion metric tons of corn were grown. The USA and Brazil alone produce almost 200 million metric tons of soybeans. Soylent Green is ... soybeans!

Pork at a local grocery in Bristol, Virginia is $1.00-$2.00 a pound. A 2-pound bag of brown rice at Dollar Tree is $1.00. A 50-pound bag of potatoes goes for ~$14. A 10-pound bag of par-boiled rice at Wall-Mart is under $5.00. Fresh carrots are $1.50 for a 2-pound bag at ALDIs.

Technology with affordable and abundant energy makes this possible while protecting the environment. Yet for the last 50 years it's endless doom and gloom.

New essays on this subject October 2018: