The environmental rap video “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” by Prince Ea has over 100 million views on Facebook and another two million on YouTube, but it makes five major factual errors.
Prince Ea says in the rap that “the thing about truth is that it can be denied, not avoided” so some fact checking is in order.
1: The World’s Richest Countries Have More Trees Than Ever Before
In the rap Prince Ea makes the claim that 50 percent of all the trees in the world are “gone” in the last hundred years because of greed for money. This is just flat out wrong, as the richest countries have more trees than ever before in recent history. Trees regrow. As shown by the graphs below, the amount of forested area is increasing rapidly in both absolute and percentage terms in the United States, the world’s richest country according to HumanProgress.
A Yale University study, published September 2015 in the prestigious science journal Nature, finds there are currently 3.04 trillion trees on Earth. This is 750 percent more than the previous best estimate, which is 400 billion.
2: Even The Worst Case Scenarios Don’t Claim Global Warming Will Make Humans Go Extinct
Prince Ea claims global warming is likely to cause human extinction, but even the worst case scenarios don’t get close to that.
Yale economist Robert Mendelsohn concludes that the damage will be more like 0.08–0.24 percent of the global economy by 2100, when global economy is expected to be many times larger than it is now.
“[G]lobal annual economic losses for additional temperature increases of [approximately] 2C are between 0.2 and 2.0% of income,” by 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Even the IPCC’s “nightmare” scenario of 4 Celsius degrees of warming will only cause the loss of 1 to 5 percent in global economic output by 2100. This is real damage, but it isn’t close to an extinction level event for humanity.
The worst case scenarios of sea-level rise tracked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are approximately six feet of sea level rise by 2100.
3: Only Rich Countries Can Afford To Care About Environmentalism
In the video Prince Ea claims environmental decline has come about because “we put profit above people, greed above need, and rule of gold above the golden rule.” This is exactly the opposite of how environmental protection works historically.
The richer and more developed a country becomes, the more it protects the environment. Despite 1970s predictions of ecological destruction, Americans today are far more environmentally friendly because we are far wealthier. Today we grow more food on fewer acres, eat meat from sources that are less land-intrusive, and use water more efficiently.
Across every environmental metric, rich countries are better off than poor countries because they can afford to care. This is why regulations which encourage environmental protection tend to hurt the poor the most.
4: Carbon Emissions Are Declining Thanks To Natural Gas
Carbon emissions will decline globally in 2015 due to reduced coal use in China and the transition towards clean burning natural gas, according to new studies. The Department of Energy agrees with the research organization Berkeley Earth that natural gas is “ the single largest contributor to the … largely unexpected decline in U.S. CO2 emissions.”
5: The Amazon Rain Forest Isn’t Disappearing
Prince Ea claims the Amazon Rain Forest will be known as the “Amazon Desert” in the future. However, rates of deforestation in the Amazon are declining significantly. Current rates are the lowest ever since the government of Brazil began tracking them. Satellite imaging shows roughly 80 percent of the Amazon Rain Forest is still intact.
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