Environmentalist says sorry for crying wolf on climate change

Michael Shellenberger is an environmentalist who has been named by Time as a Hero of the Environment and won a Green Book Award.

He writes in The Australian:

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the past 30 years. 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.

To make it clear he is not saying that climate change isn’t a serious environmental problem. He is saying it is over hyped.

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.

Strong left credentials.

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”. …

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 fearmongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

You can order it here. I have.

He gives some highlights:

● 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 pollution and emissions is moving from wood to coal to petrol to natural gas to uranium.

● 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.

And he makes a useful comparison:

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.

An excellent article.

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