The false alarmist, “environmental” themes which have misled the world

False is a kind word. In many cases the “environmental” alarmists have created fake alarms. So much so that real dangers have been ignored while fake crises have been trumpeted. There is little doubt in my mind that the world would have been better prepared for the Wuhan virus pandemic if we had not diverted resources to crises that never were, and probably never will be.

A prominent former alarmist, Michael Shellenberger, has seen some light:

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.

Here are some facts few people know: 

  1. Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction” 
  2. The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  3. Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  4. Fires have declined 25 per cent around the world since 2003
  5. The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  6. 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
  7. Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany and France since the mid-1970s
  8. The Netherlands became rich, not poor, while adapting to life below sea level
  9. We produce 25 per cent more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  10. Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  11. Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels, and
  12. Preventing future pandemics requires more, not less, “industrial” agriculture.

Shellenberger argues in his book that:

  • 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
  • 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, and
  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants.

There are many other areas where the alarmist themes have become fashionable but are false and sometimes faked.

  • Population implosion rather than population explosion, is the main risk which requires mitigation
  • The ozone hole dances to its own music and not to human emissions.
  • In the 1970s Snowball Earth was imminent.
  • Now, Fireball Earth is upon us.
  • The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is not, in fact, significantly affected by man-made emissions.
  • There never was an acid-rain crisis in the 1970s.
  • There are more species alive now than ever before, and there are more “failed” species which need to go extinct.
  • Biodiversity is a result, not a goal.
  • At any time and in any biosphere there is an optimum for the number of species that can be supported.
  • There never has been a food crisis or an oil crisis or an energy crisis or a resource crisis.
  • The “water problem” is one of distribution not of quantity or availability.

Alarmist themes gradually dwindle as their catastrophes fail to materialize. But they take a long time to die out and while they live they cause an enormous waste of resources. However they do provide parasitic employment to the otherwise unemployable.


 

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