Michael Shellenberger, reformed environmental alarmist, says “Sorry!”

And about time too, don’t forget that Alan Carlin blew the whistle on Environmentalism Gone Mad years ago.

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts he lists.

  • 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 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% 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

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.

Read his statement to support the launch of his new book.

Update. Forbes took the piece down and Nob found it here on  Shellenberger’s own site. In case that gets hacked he has put the whole piece into a comment. Nice work!

This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Michael Shellenberger, reformed environmental alarmist, says “Sorry!”

  1. Nob

    Book will be interesting.

    I imagine the knives are out already.

  2. nb

    As much as it is nice to see a little piece of the facade fall, there is always something slightly off-putting about people who climb to prominence on a flawed theory who then try to maintain the heights after a road-to-Damascus conversion to another, often opposing, theory.
    Where was the evidence that took our now-fellow-traveller to adopt his initial position?
    Welcome, Michael, to something approaching skeptical science. Doubtless your book is a valuable guide to those under the mystic spell.
    There is no unchangeable conclusion in this matter, just some facts, some hypotheses, some guesses, and a great future if we dare grasp it.

  3. mem

    nb
    #3499318, posted on June 29, 2020 at 9:05 pm
    I’m not familiar with your views nb but I got the impression that you were trying very hard to muddy the waters so that the message coming through from Carlin was obscured. My reading of the Shellenberger precise is that Carlin has some important stuff to say and therefore I will buy his book. I suspect the green junket tablet you take each night has curdled your brain. Do have another.

  4. Oh Jesus, aren’t the luvvies gonna get into him, poor bastard

    Michael Shellenberger, hear, hear!

  5. Arnost

    Oh Jesus, aren’t the luvvies gonna get into him, poor bastard

    Indeed. Will be interesting to see what the repercussions are. (Pour encourager les auters)

  6. Colonel Bunty Golightly

    Great to see you grew a set Mick!

  7. Rebel with cause

    LOL. Facts are useless in the face of religion. Utterly unpersuasive in shaking up belief.

  8. Enoch Root

    Forbes link is not working. Seems they’ve pulled down the story.

  9. mundi

    Forbes has been informed of his wrong speak, so have google, everything has been pulled.

  10. Nob

    That was quick. It was up just a few hours ago.

    Here’s the Amazon page:

    Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

    Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. It is not even our most serious environmental problem.

    Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions.

    But in 2019, as some claimed “billions of people are going to die,” contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction.

    Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.

    Curiously, the people who are the most alarmist about the problems also tend to oppose the obvious solutions.

    What’s really behind the rise of apocalyptic environmentalism? There are powerful financial interests. There are desires for status and power. But most of all there is a desire among supposedly secular people for transcendence. This spiritual impulse can be natural and healthy. But in preaching fear without love, and guilt without redemption, the new religion is failing to satisfy our deepest psychological and existential needs.

  11. Nob

    Pasted here without , just in case something else happens, following on from the extract list in Rafe’s headline post:

    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.

  12. Jannie

    Nob, on behalf of mankind, I accept your apology. But if you have been a lifelong environmentalist, progressive, and climate activist you have got a shitload of damage to repair. I hope you’re not too old.

  13. 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.

    You’ve spent your life lying and frightening three generations of kids who are now so neurotic about your AGW bullshit that they are barely functional citizens.
    You can take take your apology and retire to the library with a bottle of scotch and a revolver to do the right thing.

  14. Nob

    Jannie
    #3499416, posted on June 30, 2020 at 1:25 am
    Nob, on behalf of mankind, I accept your apology

    I knew I shoulda put it in quotes.

    The apology’s from Michael Schellenberg.

    I’m the poor driller who’s been copping abuse from Greenies for forty years.

  15. Mark M

    Give him a cell in the east corner with a view and a breeze.
    The rest can keep breaking rocks with Al Gore in the basement with lights and ac run by renewables.

  16. Rafe Champion

    Thanks Nob I will modify the post to point people straight to his site.

  17. Mark M

    Can it be any clearer?

    Everything the UN does is for global governance.

    Lima Agreement, Rio Declaration, Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement all designed to destroy capitalist western nations.

    U.N. Chief Guterres Calls for One Supreme Body of ‘Global Governance’

    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/06/26/u-n-chief-guterres-calls-for-one-supreme-body-of-global-governance/

    h/t: Malcolm Roberts twitter

    Al Gore, UN Secretary-General, others now demanding ‘Great Reset’ of global capitalism

    https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/al-gore-un-secretary-general-great-reset-global-capitalism

    For example, Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said, “We want an end to the profit-at-all-costs mentality, because if we don’t build an economic future within a sustainable framework in which we are respectful of our planetary boundaries, and the need to change our energy and technology systems, then we will not have a living planet for human beings.”

    “The Great Reset is a welcome recognition that this human tragedy must be a wake-up call,” said U.N. Secretary-General Guterres. “We must build more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and the many other global changes we face.”

  18. Catfeesh?

    Don’t think everything has been pulled by google – just ordered my copy.

  19. Arnost

    Read his statement to support the launch of his new book.

    This page is no longer active.

    Censored!!!

  20. RobK

    I think this it is useful to rectify the CO2 conjecture as a means to a more sensible energy policy.
    RE subsidies are predicated on a contrivance.

  21. Herodotus

    Without honest media we’ll have difficulty getting sensible policies from our politicians.

  22. H B Bear

    Too little. Too late.

    The bankrupting of governments by Covid19 will do more than this will ever do.

  23. At first I was angry reading this piece of shits “apology” but then we do need people like him – and lots of them – to come out into the open.
    I doubt one person can change much. One of the original Greenpeace founders came out as a sceptic (Patrick Moore) years ago but he’s not had much of an impact.

    There are $ Trillions at stake. Environazis, insurance companies, sciemtists and researchers, politicians and sundry grifters are making so much money from this scam that it’s not going to go away any time soon.

    Also, so long as people believe burning fossil fuels heats up the planet, this scam can never be ended.
    There is no evidence, none at all, that man’s emissions of CO2 heats up the atmosphere.
    Greenhouse Gas theory is wrong. You can double or triple the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the only thing you’ll do is feed plants.

  24. Jonesy

    Isn’t this something you here from the tumbril on the way to the guillotine?

  25. egg_

    Without honest media we’ll have difficulty getting sensible policies from our politicians.

    Scotty-from-Marketing has been on the run since his Christmas debacle, hence slavishly following the WHO on the fake pandemic.
    ScoMo’s personal JobKeeper policy in action.

  26. egg_

    The bankrupting of governments by Covid19 will do more than this will ever do.

    Yup, CAGW on steroids.

  27. PaulW

    with his book and the recent michael moore documentary the tide might be starting to turn away from the alarmists

  28. John A

    The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska

    Gee, so little! And yet – it does represent as productivity gain, doesn’t it? As long as meat production has gone up, that is…

  29. cohenite

    with his book and the recent michael moore documentary the tide might be starting to turn away from the alarmists

    No mate the tide is increasing. Apart from Trump and few PHON pollies no other pollie is doing anything but side with alarmism. All the media is on board as well. Shellenberger is very brave and he will cop it.

  30. Astatine Jones

    No doubt it will be interesting to read Shellenberger’s book and assess objectively the facts presented and his arguments and reasoning. Regardless of his background, achievements and recent ‘enlightenment’, it’s still one person’s take on a very wide range of environmental issues, and I’ve never met a person who’s correct about everything. Claiming that you do is a good way to boost sales of your book though!

    Apologising ‘on behalf of environmentalists everywhere’ reeks a little of arrogance in my humble opinion. Would it be appropriate to apologise for all atheists is you’d found God? Or for drinkers of VB after one had been awakened to the pleasures of craft beer? Or for fans of heavy metal after moving on to Beethoven’s symphonies? I could go on…

  31. Rafe Champion

    Cut him some slack, he has been on the side of the angels regarding the lunacy of RE for some time now, although he makes too much out of the “energy intensity” factor – the large acreage required to harvest solar and wind energy compared with the compact sites of nuclear and conventional power stations.

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