This is an absolute nugget by Michael Shellenberger, a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” Green Book Award Winner, and author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.
It was first published in Forbes Magazine, carried by various other websites including Watts Up With That and the Global Warming Foundation. It is priceless, so I am borrowing it here.
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 per cent 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 have been declining in rich nations for decades and peaked in Britain, Germany and France in the mid-seventies
Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor
We produce 25 per cent 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.
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 $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
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 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
“Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300 per cent 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 reorienting toward the national 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.
And the invitations I received from IPCC and Congress late last year, after I published a series of criticisms of climate alarmism, are signs of a growing openness to new thinking about climate change and the environment.
Another sign is 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 that I had 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.
Shocked and dismayed. I could use harsher words.
I have just read a news item that reports that several prominent Canadians have penned a letter requesting the Government of Canada cancel the present extradition process that is under way with the U.S.A. concerning a Huawei executive.
In other words, cave to the bullying of a Communistic, totalitarian state and betray our friend, neighbour, largest trading partner, and democratic state.
First, I could not believe what I was reading. Then it sank in.
Some prominent Canadians are willing to throw in the towel to a legitimate lawful process already under way to have a leading Chinese corporate executive go scott free. They have bowed to the bullying of a country whose government breaks international law (South China Sea), has citizens with whom they disagree disappear (critics of the Wuhan virus outbreak) without due process, imprison minorities (Uyghurs) without due process, violate an undertaking regarding Hong Kong and conduct a surveillance state with one party rule.
Second, I thought Canada believed in the rule of law. Canada is following it with even a Canadian Court ruling on the legitimacy of the process.
Third, the U.S.A. is our neighbour, largest trading partner. Do you think such actions will be deemed appropriate by any U.S. Government, Democratic or Republican? This could and likely will be viewed by the U.S. as a very hostile act by Canada. Those who penned the letter have the gall to associate this with Canada’s position on the Iraq War. Need I remind them that there was no treaty involved or violating an existing legal process concerning Canada’s position on the Iraq War. Additionally, one hopes this is not a former PM Jean Chretien inspired effort, especially if he has commercial interests in China.
Fourth, to think we have prominent Canadians who are prepared to abuse the rule of law, succumb to the bully tactics of a Communist state, and abuse our neighbour, a democratic state, and our largest trading partner marks the nadir of democracy in Canada.
As one Canadian who has politically served this country, I reject the contents of this letter and call on the Government of Canada, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, to reject it as well.
Brain Peckford is a former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, living in retirement on Parksville, B.C.
There’s a difference between the Americans and the Europeans – words matter when it comes to the two Canadians illegally held by the Chinese government.
The Americans were forthright and clear. The Europeans more suspect and unclear.
Why do I say that? Here is what is quoted that both said in support of Canada:
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to release the Canadians, saying they face groundless charges of spying. He went on:
"These charges are politically motivated and completely groundless. The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada.”
The European Union said its leadership also raised its concerns over "the continued arbitrary detention" of Kovrig and Spavor during a virtual bilateral summit with China Monday.
The Americans, through Pompeo, demanded the release of the Canadians who he said faced groundless charges of spying.
The Europeans had nameless leaders raise concerns over the arbitrary detention of the Canadians during a virtual bilateral summit.
Obviously, other matters were being discussed. One wonders what were the other subjects discussed since the meeting was not called to deal with the Canadian issue.
Diplomatic Code: Americans were serious, no other issues. Europeans were going through the motions as part of a larger agenda with the Chinese.
Who are our real friends when the chips are down? The ones whose leader was mocked by our adolescent prime minister.
Justin Trudeau knows little history, apparently some drama, at least dressing up, and little else.
First, it was losing (to two smaller nations) the competition to gain a temporary seat on the corrupt United Nations Security Council and now a couple of days later we see the two Canadians being held by China, being formally charged.
Any day strike three. And in baseball terms he should be – out. Oh, if we were only so lucky.
Everyone knows it’s all about China exerting pressure on Canada for having the gall to follow the law and allow extradition changes to proceed against the Chinese Company official.
For Trudeau and his advisers to think that by appeasing China over the last few years that this would make a difference in how China would view us, is the idea of a child playing a man’s game.
Former Canadian Ambassador to China Guy St. Jacques has said: "What have we achieved so far with this appeasement strategy? I'd argue nothing." Canada must now take an aggressive approach to its dealing with China, he said.
Wow, finally some sanity. Too bad it’s a former ambassador.
As I have been saying since Trudeau was elected, this man is pro-China, his Daddy was pro-China.
Everyone wants to forget that this man praised China’s system.
What do we have when this man tried to evade even saying the word Taiwan? When we have a public health officer who is pro World Health Organization on a panel of the WHO). And hence pro-China. Who mocks the President of our largest trading partner and historic ally?
Whom did we have to count on to get our crashed helicopter off the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea a few weeks ago ? Was it China? It was the Americans! Did I heard any thanks from Canadians?
Canadians have a few blind spots, one is that we have this fantastic health care system while five million Canadians (Statistics Canada, 4.2 million in 2014) have no family physician and we are near the bottom of the list (Commonwealth Fund Study) of advanced countries in number of physicians, wait times, seeing a doctor, and seeing a specialist. and second somehow the name Trudeau excuses all kinds of mistakes both domestically and internationally.
Now, will we get realistic about China? And support our neighbour?