Utterly eye opening essay by Environmental Activist

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s
  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.

I became an environmentalist at 16 when I threw a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network. At 27 I helped save the last unprotected ancient redwoods in California. In my 30s I advocated renewables and successfully helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion into them. Over the last few years I helped save enough nuclear plants from being replaced by fossil fuels to prevent a sharp increase in emissions

But until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an “existential” threat to human civilization, and called it a “crisis.”

But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr., a lifelong progressive Democrat and environmentalist who testified in favor of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse.

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.”

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.”

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct . And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened.

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence.

And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All .

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.

Some highlights from the book:

  • Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress
  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land
  • The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium
  • 100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50%
  • We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities
  • Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4%
  • Greenpeace didn’t save the whales, switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did
  • “Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300% more emissions
  • Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon
  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants

Why were we all so misled?

In the final three chapters of Apocalypse Never I expose the financial, political, and ideological motivations. Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism

Once you realize just how badly misinformed we have been, often by people with plainly unsavory or unhealthy motivations, it is hard not to feel duped.

Will Apocalypse Never make any difference? There are certainly reasons to doubt it.

The news media have been making apocalyptic pronouncements about climate change since the late 1980s, and do not seem disposed to stop.

The ideology behind environmental alarmsim — Malthusianism — has been repeatedly debunked for 200 years and yet is more powerful than ever.

But there are also reasons to believe that environmental alarmism will, if not come to an end, have diminishing cultural power.

The coronavirus pandemic is an actual crisis that puts the climate “crisis” into perspective. Even if you think we have overreacted, Covid-19 has killed nearly 500,000 people and shattered economies around the globe.

Scientific institutions including WHO and IPCC have undermined their credibility through the repeated politicization of science. Their future existence and relevance depends on new leadership and serious reform.

Facts still matter, and social media is allowing for a wider range of new and independent voices to outcompete alarmist environmental journalists at legacy publications.

Nations are reverting openly to self-interest and away from Malthusianism and neoliberalism, which is good for nuclear and bad for renewables.

The evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to.

The invitations from IPCC and Congress are signs of a growing openness to new thinking about climate change and the environment. Another one has been to the response to my book from climate scientists, conservationists, and environmental scholars. " Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book,” writes Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb . “This may be the most important book on the environment ever written,” says one of the fathers of modern climate science Tom Wigley.

“We environmentalists condemn those with antithetical views of being ignorant of science and susceptible to confirmation bias,” wrote the former head of The Nature Conservancy, Steve McCormick. “But too often we are guilty of the same. Shellenberger offers ‘tough love:’ a challenge to entrenched orthodoxies and rigid, self-defeating mindsets. Apocalypse Never serves up occasionally stinging, but always well-crafted, evidence-based points of view that will help develop the ‘mental muscle’ we need to envision and design not only a hopeful, but an attainable, future.”

That is all I hoped for in writing it. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll agree that it’s perhaps not as strange as it seems that a lifelong environmentalist, progressive, and climate activist felt the need to speak out against the alarmism.

I further hope that you’ll accept my apology.

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Thanks for posting this
It makes too much sense to me
I’ve joked about “that global cooling thing” for years (every time it was unseasonably cool)

The greatest threat we face right now is financial— we’ve been living beyond our means for 50 years???
More people will die, there will be more destroyed souls, from the developing financial mess than man-made global warming.
And none of this is deep state bullshit
Follow the money …

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This OT place has shifted light years from the quagmire it’s been for years
I love it!

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Thanks for posting this Weas. Below is another article by Shellenberger that talks about the need for nuclear energy and how the environmental movement should embrace it. I agree, and there’s even hope that such modern power plants can run on nuclear waste that old-school plants have already produced in abundance. I posted a video on technology being developed to do that, with Bill Gates leading the charge.

The radical activists do the whole movement a major disservice. People do forget how bad things were in the 1970s before the movement gained traction. There has been major progress made and for that we can be thankful. Climate change remains a big problem and it’s clear to many nuclear the way to go. It’s not sexy, but it’s a real answer to greenhouse gases.

Where I disagree with Shellenberger wholeheartedly is on the expansion of factory farming. The suffering involved is not only unconscionable to me, but raising animals in such close quarters, and pumping them full of antiobiotics, is playing with fire. Covid19 isn’t even close to something like the Spanish Flu, and even more dangerous diseases may present themselves in the coming years. The answer isn’t more meat, it’s less. That’s apparent to me from not only an animal welfare standpoint, but a human one too. The deadliest disease outbreaks in human history come from viruses jumping species. Increasing the number of factory farms is not something animal or human immune systems have evolved to deal with.

It’s also clear that the modern food system generally makes people sick. The levels of obesity, heart disease and cancers and disastrous levels of diabetes are all tied to the modern American diet. And I just can’t support expansion of factory farming of animals as a pillar in any reformed environmental movement. For me it’s nuclear yes, but turning a blind eye to what factory farming entails is a big no, for me anyway.

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We, as people of this nation and earth,need to get our hearts and minds Out of our butts!

I already talk common sense trumps science… ego is in all of us as is selfish motivations like greed and power…

It’s cool to hear this so thanks for pairing but here’s the real deal imho

All the worship the scientists are lost sheep… you listen to them but you still assess using common sense.

Climate change is a normal cycle for the earth… just figure out how to adjust proactively, not whine and point figures as it’s what we like to do. We need to simply move on and adjust

Nice read!

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I didn’t get into all of this but one thing that jumped out is the assertion that 100% renewals would require 50% of all land?

I don’t think so. Several countries already are. It just takes an upgrade in the grid and integration of multiple sources of renewable energy

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It’s not normal given the human population increase. It will become normal when we become extinct since previous “natural cycles” never had human influence.

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Yeah, that one puzzled me. I’m not on board with everything in the article, I just thought it was a radical departure from radical assertions that are now the norm in this and now many other facets of life.

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I have always thought nuclear was the real ticket out. Also, I am, as you know, very much on board with cultured protein as a gigantic gamechanger, but also agree that expansion of factory farming is a poor idea given the examples we have of the pig virus in China in 2019 wiping out 30% of all pics on earth, COVID etc etc etc. We don’t need to be setting up giant virus mutation venues everywhere…

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I just listened to his Ted talk. I think he’s shilling a bit (a lot) for nuclear. I think it’s funny how he pivoted when posing the question, “but is nuclear energy safe? That’s a fair question…but consider wind energy is also dangerous”

Then flips to a slide explaining that two maintenance workers died when a turbine caught fire and he kept a pic of their last moments on the fiery turbine on the screen for several minutes…

Two people? Never minding the absolute devastation nuclear accidents have caused over the years. Wonder if he’s seen HBO’s Chernobyl yet…

He also downplays the expense to construct a nuclear plant and the fact that governments have to subsidize and insure them as they are uninsurable in the private market. As well as the expense of transport of the spent fuel. We still don’t know what to do with all the spent fuel in the yucca mountains. And the cleanup at Hanford just recently finished cost billions and leaked radioactive waste into the Columbia River for decades

I’m not totally against nuclear as a compliment to expanding renewable energy and an alternative to coal. But this guy isn’t being totally intellectually honest here

I should clarify that its nuclear in a different manner than we have thus far developed it that I support. We are running on basically the same ideas of the 1950s with that stuff and the research hasn’t moved fast or far enough.

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This is Bill Gates’ initiative in “new age” nuclear technology. There was a prototype plant in the planning stages and the Chinese agreed to have it tried there (not many places to choose from). But given the West and China’s current relationship, it seems it won’t be firing up anytime soon. These plants would be natural-disaster proof and supposedly free from human error - and use spent fuel to power them. Sound like a great technology. We’ll see what happens in the coming years.

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YES! Once they get it right, that will be a massive game-changer in so many ways.

Actually the factory farming thing raised my eyebrows as well
But I’m thinking more of crop pesticides
Pesticides have now seeped into everything
I’m a firm believer in finding biological pest control options
We are killing insects, and somewhere that’s doing major damage in the food cycle
We’re all eating stuff grown in pesticides— long term impact?
I don’t know
But I’ve long thought there were bigger issues than man made global warning

And yes, I think nuclear is a legitimate option
Then you have to deal with the NIMBY stuff …

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Yes, that was the other one — 100% renewables …
There’s a blend that yields the best result
I can’t say what that is

There’s no question that climate change is still a critical issue. He’s taking umbrage with activists who are claiming the end is nigh, when it’s not clear that it is. We probably have a longer window than previously thought. But that’s no reason to slow the search for new energy.

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I honestly believe we’ll look at modern animal husbandry in the future as we look at slavery now. Barbaric.

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Here’s my never ending “common sense” thought here…

If it’s too good to be true… we will have a ducking nuclear meltdown…

There is NO way a imperfect human can build a perfect thing… imho that’s impossible and a man with an ego so big they can’t see it…

No way in hell “it’s disaster proof”??

No offense Reddie, but while climate change is an issue, the criticality is somewhat open to question. I’ve been hearing this shit for more than 30 years, and the situation is little worse now than it was then. They told us the Arctic would be ice free, the polar bears would be extinct, and Florida would be under water, so pardon me if I don’t quite see the imminent disaster.

That said, the search for new energy sources is on-going, as it should be. And we’re doing much better at energy consumption, and I believe we’ve also reduced pollution from fossil fuels.

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Agreed. We need a means of feeding the masses, and some think factory farming is 100% necessary. I think we will evolve past it, certainly the way it is done. Humans are evolving spiritually, mentally, psychologically. We are moving toward love. That’s why people are starting to care more. Technology can isolate, but it damn sure can bring us together too… and it is!

Love me some humans (not as food, as friends) :wink:

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