Once too scared to speak out, finally, Michael Shellenberger, is explaining some inconvenient facts about environmentalism and how it is hurting our Earth in a new book published by Harper Collins.
In a synopsis Shellenberger articulates what I have known for so long:
● The most important thing for reducing pollution and emissions is moving from wood to coal to petrol to natural gas to uranium.
[though it could be that hydrogen will be the solution at least for aviation, and this is all explained in chapter 15 of the book I’m editing]
● 100 per cent renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5 per cent to 50 per cent.
● We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities.
● Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4 per cent.
● Greenpeace didn’t save the whales — switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did.
[so pleased this is being acknowledged! and Patrick Moore as a founder and leader of Greenpeace so hurt the discipline of conservation biology, he should also apologise]
● ‘Free-range’ beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300 per cent more emissions.
[Yes, but I like the idea that cows can also get to see the Sun]
● 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.
It is also nice to finally hear an insider admit:
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 civilisation are behind much of the alarmism.
I knew that too.
Michael Shellenberger even apologies:
On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the past 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 the US congress to provide-objective testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to serve as a reviewer of its next assessment report, I feel an obligation to apologise for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public…
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 co-operatives. 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 $US90bn into them. Over the past 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 civilisation, 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.
He has some sobering comments in conclusion:
Once you realise just how badly misinformed we have been, often by people with plainly unsavoury 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 alarmism — 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 politicisation 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 civilisation is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilisation that climate alarmists would return us to.
And bravo to The Australian newspaper for publishing something about this important new book.
It is good if the extent to which people have been misled begins to be acknowledged. But it is also so important that we know what we stand for, not only what we stand against.
More than anything else it is so important that individuals begin to speak from the heart about what they see in nature. That they begin to acknowledge the beauty all around them — that still exists in such abundance on this planet.
I look out over the ocean to see the sunrise, the moonrise and so often I see rainbows. How could anyone doubt the resilience of nature.