Scroll down to read the most recent articles; links to previous articles follow.
- Senate inquiry is bringing evidence about state of Great Barrier Reef to the surface By Professor Peter Ridd, an independent scientist, The Australian, 16 September 2020
- We need an inquiry into climate alarmism By Chris Kenny, The Australian, 29 August 2020
- Alarmism in New Zealand By Dr Muriel Newman, NZCPR.com, 25 July 2020
- Sorry for misleading you, but I cried wolf on climate change By Michael Shellenberger, The Australian, 1 July 2020
Senate inquiry is bringing evidence about state of Great Barrier Reef to the surface
Senate inquiry is bringing evidence about state of Great Barrier Reef to the surface By Professor Peter Ridd, an independent scientist, The Australian, 16 September 2020
Editor’s note: Professor Ridd was sacked by James Cook University, Queensland, for challenging some university colleagues regarding the accuracy of their reports concerning the Great Barrier Reef. Ridd challenged this in court and won a resounding victory in which the judge castigated JCU. An appeal by JCU was lost based on some convoluted points. Ridd is escalating an appeal to the highest Australian court. Over $760,000 has been collected for Ridd’s appeal in a Go-Fund appeal. Ridd is pushing in particular for a far better level of quality control in science.
The Senate committee inquiry into the regulation of farm practices impacting water quality on the Great Barrier Reef has yielded some remarkable confessions by science institutions about the state of the reef. It has been the first time many of the scientists have been asked difficult questions and publicly challenged by hard evidence. They have been forced out of their bubble.
It was revealed by Paul Hardisty, boss of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, that only 3 per cent of the reef, the “inshore reefs”, is affected by farm pesticides and sediment. He also stated that pesticides, are a “low to negligible risk”, even for that 3 per cent.
The other 97 per cent, the true offshore Great Barrier Reef, mostly 50km to 100km from the coast, is effectively totally unharmed by pesticides and sediment.
This has been evident in the data for decades but it is nice to see an honest appraisal of the situation.
Why has this fact not been brought to the public’s attention in major documents such as the GBR Outlook Report produced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority? Why has everybody been deceived about the true extent of the problem?
AIMS was also forthcoming on other important points. Records of coral growth rates show no impact from agriculture. Large corals live centuries, and have annual growth rings like trees. They record their own rate of growth. If farming, which started about 100 years ago on the reef coast, was damaging the it, there should be a slowing of the growth rate. The records show no slowing when agriculture started a century ago, or when large-scale use of fertiliser and pesticides began in the 1950s.
I have written previously that AIMS has been negligent in not updating the GBR-average coral growth data for the past 15 years. We have the scandalous situation that there is data going back centuries – but nothing since 2005. AIMS claimed coral growth rates collapsed between 1990 and 2005, due to climate change; however, there is considerable doubt about this result because AIMS changed the methodology for the data between 1990 and 2005. At the Senate inquiry, under some duress, AIMS agreed it would be a good idea to update this data if the government will fund the project.
Updating the coral growth rate data will be a major step forward. It will prove or disprove the doubtful decline between 1990 and 2005. It will also give the complete record of how the GBR has fared in the past 15 years, a period when scientists have become more strident in their claims that it is on its last legs.
Hardisty, to his credit, has recently implemented red-blue teams within his organisation to help with quality assurance of the work that AIMS produces. A red team is a group of scientists that takes a deliberately antagonist approach to check, test and replicate scientific evidence. A genuine red team is a far more rigorous quality assurance approach than the present system used in science – peer review – which is often little more than a quick read of the work by the scientist’s mates. What AIMS has done internally is similar to what I have been proposing – an Office of Science Quality Assurance that would check, test, and replicate scientific evidence used for public policy.
Unfortunately, Hardisty’s commitment to quality in science was not reflected by many other important witnesses at the Senate inquiry. Many are in denial and resorted to shooting the messengers. An extract from a letter signed by Professor Ian Chubb, a former Australian chief scientist, was read out by Senator Kim Carr.
Disputing the conventional wisdom on the reef was likened to denying that tobacco causes cancer, or that lead in petrol is a health risk. Worse still, the reason sceptics do this, apparently, is “usually money”. Scientists such as Dr Piers Larcombe, the pre-eminent expert on the movement of sediment on the reef, with decades of experience, is thus written off as a corrupt charlatan.
It is scientific “cancel culture”. It is easier than confronting Larcombe’s evidence that farming has very limited impact on the GBR.
It is customary to be very cynical of our politicians, but it was senators Roberts, Rennick, Canavan and McDonald who forced some truth from our generally untrustworthy science institutions. Only our politicians can save us from them.
The evidence about the reef will not be buried forever. All the data indicates agriculture is having a negligible impact on the reef, and recent draconian Queensland legislation against farmers is unwarranted. And this issue will be influential come the Queensland state election on October 31.
(Professor) Peter Ridd is an independent scientist.
We need an inquiry into climate alarmism
We need an inquiry into climate alarmism By Chris Kenny, The Australian, 29 August 2020
I hope you are sitting down; this foray into political and media madness over bushfires and climate change starts with recognising some excellent, forensic journalism by the ABC. Investigating last summer’s devastating Gospers Mountain fire, journalist Philippa McDonald took us to the very tree where the fire is believed to have been started when it was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm.
McDonald used this to give us the brilliantly counterintuitive opening line; “It began not with fire, but ice.” In a series of reports, McDonald and her team retraced the history of the fire over a number of weeks, how it was almost extinguished by rain, how bushwalkers in the wrong place at the wrong time thwarted a backburn that might have stopped it, how another prescribed burn got out of control and destroyed houses, and how a fortuitous wind change stopped it encroaching on suburban Sydney.
We might quibble with some of the alarmist language — repeating the silly new “megafire” term and pretending that when fires meet they join and get bigger when, in fact, this reduces the number of fronts and total length of fire perimeter — but overall the reporting was factual and admirable because it explained the many variables in fire behaviour and the factors that can influence whether a fire can be contained or extinguished before weather conditions turn it into an unstoppable beast. Surprisingly, and refreshingly, the reports did not dwell on climate change.
When it comes to our bushfires climate change is so close to being irrelevant, it should hardly warrant a passing reference — we have always faced disastrous bushfire conditions and always will. If climate change makes the worst conditions either marginally more or less common, it matters not; we still need to do the same things to protect ourselves.
In previous articles I have detailed the leading scientific analysis showing the main precondition for the NSW fires — a long drought — cannot be attributed to climate change. Unless climate activists want to argue Australia could do something to alter the global climate sufficiently to reduce our bushfire threat, they are exposed as cynical campaigners who used the sure bet of bushfires to advance their political scare campaign.
The NSW bushfire inquiry released this week took a dive into the climate science — as it was tasked to do — and found, predictably enough, that climate change “clearly played a role in the conditions” that led up to the fires and helped spread them. But thankfully it did not waste much time on climate in its recommendations, merely suggesting climate trends need to be monitored and factored in.
Apart from exercises in politically correct box ticking — Indigenous training for evacuation centre staff so they are “culturally competent”, wildlife rescue training for firefighters, and signs to promote ABC radio stations — most of the recommendations were practical. Better equipment for firefighters, more water bombers, more communication, public education and most importantly, a range of suggestions on fuel reduction around settled areas and planning controls on building in fire prone areas.
The bottom line has always been obvious: the one fire input we can control is fuel, so where we want to slow blazes or protect properties, we must reduce fuel. Planning is also important to prevent housing in indefensible locations, but one crucial phrase missing from the report was “personal responsibility”.
Houses on wooded hilltops or surrounded by bush cannot be protected and their residents should not expect others to risk their lives trying to do so.
People must be educated to clear extensively around properties, sufficient to withstand not a moderate fire but a firestorm, otherwise they must be prepared to surrender their homes and escape early.
“Hazard reduction is not the complete answer,” said report author Mary O’Kane. “People do need to take responsibility, they need to realise that if they live in certain areas it can be very dangerous, and we try to give a strong message of, if you are in a dangerous area and there is one of these big, bad megafires, the message, is get out.”
O’Kane is right, of course. But it seems a hell of a waste to hold a full inquiry only to be told we should do more fuel reduction, be careful where we build houses, and get the hell out of the way rather than try to fight firestorms. We knew all this.
The push for an inquiry was largely driven by the climate catastrophists. Remember, they wanted to blame the blazes on the axing of the carbon tax, and on Scott Morrison. It was inane and rancid stuff.
They will be at it again, this fire season. They love making political capital out of disasters, although they go as quiet as Tim Flannery when it comes to full dams and widespread snowfalls.
The area of land burned in the Australian summer has now been revised down by 25 per cent, and the claims about wildlife deaths revised downwards too, to factor in the mind-blowing realisation that animals actually escape fire when they can — birds fly, wombats burrow, kangaroos hop and even koalas can climb to the treetops and escape all but a crowning blaze.
Remember we had articles in The Guardian, The New York Times, and on CNN and the BBC, saying the bush might never recover. Take a drive through the Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Island or the Australian Alps and see how their predictions turned out.
The sclerophyll forests of southern Australia are not just adapted to fire, they are reliant on it. Therefore, the wildlife also is reliant on it for the rejuvenation of the vegetation — why does basic ecology escape the climate activists? If it is any comfort, the same madness is now playing out in California. Similar climate, similar history of bushfires, and the same maddening political debate. With fires burning more than a million acres in northern California this month, the state’s Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, sent a recorded message to his party’s national convention; “If you are in denial about climate change, come to California.” The trouble is that while these are bad wildfires, they are not unusual in the natural and settled history of that environment.
Like the Australian bush, the redwood forests that US journalists suggest are being destroyed by fire, depend on fire for propagation. Just like here, one of the issues has been the suppression of bushfire by human interference, leading to the unnatural build up of fuel that can explode when a wildfire does get away in bad conditions.
Environmentalist and author of Apocalypse Never; Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, Michael Shellenberger says the climate is warming but the impact of this on fires is overstated. In an article for Forbes.com he quoted Scott Stevens of the University of California, Berkeley, saying climate change is not a major factor, as well as other experts scoffing of the idea that severe fires are anything new.
“California’s fires should indeed serve as a warning to the public, but not that climate change is causing the apocalypse,” wrote Shellenberger. “Rather, it should serve as a warning that mainstream news reporters and California’s politicians cannot be trusted to tell the truth about climate change and fires.”
Ditto for Oz. I have detailed previously how Fran Kelly told ABC audiences in November that “the fire warning had been increased to catastrophic for the first time ever in this country” — but that was wrong, wildly wrong.
Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John accused his political opponents of being “no better than arsonists” and other Greens and Labor MPs said Australia’s climate policies were exacerbating bushfires. Insane as this might be, it was amplified rather than interrogated by most media.
The thick smoke haze in Sydney was portrayed as something “unprecedented” — if it has not been on Twitter before it must never have happened — but a quick search of newspaper files found similar bushfire-induced shrouds in 1951, when airports were closed, and 1936, when a ship couldn’t find the heads.
Fires in rainforest areas of southern Queensland and northern NSW were not “unprecedented” either, with archived reports noting similar fires in the spring of 1951 and even the winter of 1946.
Despite 200,000 media mentions of “unprecedented” tracked by media monitors across December and January, the facts showed none of this was new. Greater areas were burned in 1851 and 1974-75, and human devastation was either as bad or worse on Black Saturday in 2009, Ash Wednesday in 1983, Black Tuesday in 1967, Black Friday in 1939 and Black Thursday 1851.
Bushland was not destroyed forever, koalas were not rendered extinct and Scott Morrison was not to blame. We should have an inquiry into climate alarmism, political posturing and media reporting — we would learn a lot more from that than we have from relearning age-old fire preparedness from yet another bushfire inquiry.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR (NATIONAL AFFAIRS)
Commentator, author and former political adviser, Chris Kenny hosts The Kenny Report Monday-Friday 5pm, and Kenny on Media, 8.30pm Friday, on Sky News. He takes an unashamedly rationalist approach to national a… Read more
Alarmism in New Zealand
Alarmism in New Zealand By Dr Muriel Newman, NZCPR.com, 25 July 2020
Fear is a natural survival instinct and arguably more motivating than logic and reason. It can also be used to great effect to shift the mindset of communities and nations.
While such manipulation is, of course, not uncommon, what is surprising is how blind societies are to recognising when fear is being used as a tool for political persuasion.
We recently saw this in the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic when the Prime Minister used alarmist computer modelling to justify her “Captain’s Call” to lock the country down.
Claiming “tens of thousands of New Zealanders” could die, the PM rejected Ministry of Health advice to stay at Level 2 for 30 days, and imposed what we now know to be the most stringent policy response in the world.
Instead of relying on cost benefit analyses and regulatory impact statements from trusted government agencies to inform her decisions, the PM chose inaccurate computer models that grossly exaggerated the number of deaths.
It has now been revealed that the modelling she relied on did not take into account the contact testing and tracing that was central to the health response being implemented by Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director General of Health.
The explosion of predicted deaths that resulted, was then used by the PM to scare the country into accepting her hard-line lockdown.
This is not the first time the Prime Minister has used scaremongering to force her policy agenda onto the country. Her whole response to climate change has been based on fear.
Climate change is, of course, a natural process influenced by a wide range of factors including the sun, clouds, and ocean currents. Throughout history, the Earth’s climate has been far hotter than it is today and far colder. Sea levels have been far higher and far lower. Carbon dioxide – the trace gas used by plants to manufacture food – has existed at far higher atmospheric concentrations and far lower.
But the United Nations’ climate models that are being used to redefine economic policy around the world, only focus on the minuscule proportion of carbon emissions produced by humans. In doing so, they disregard not only the 97 percent of carbon dioxide produced from natural sources, but also the overwhelming influence that other crucial factors such as the sun have on the climate.
These alarmist models, which blame climate change on humans, are being used by politicians – including our Prime Minister – to implement the UN’s socialist agenda: state control of all economic activity through the regulation of carbon emissions.
Fortunately, most scams motivated by scaremongering are eventually exposed – often by the very people who pioneered the movements before they were captured by political extremists.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Michael Shellenberger is a leading American climate activist, who, having promoted global warming propaganda for almost three decades, has decided to stop the lies:
“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.
“Here are some facts few people know: Humans are not causing a ‘sixth mass extinction’; Climate change is not making natural disasters worse; Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level; 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…
“I know that the above facts will sound like ‘climate denialism’ to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.”
Michael Shellenberger explains how difficult it has been to speak out against the climate scare:
“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…
“But then, last year, things spiralled 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…
“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.”
While Michael Shellenberger deserves credit for speaking out and exposing the misrepresentation, those activists who lie should be held to account – particularly by the media. It is therefore regrettable that so many in the media have decided their interests are better served by aligning with the popularists, rather than adhering to the bedrock values of their profession.
Prime amongst New Zealand’s serial alarmists is the Green Party’s Climate Change Minister James Shaw. Not only does he knowingly describe carbon dioxide – the cornerstone of life on earth – as a “pollutant”, but he also continues to claim that as a result of climate change, adverse weather events are getting worse, which is another alarmist fabrication that is simply untrue.
But as the late Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University Professor who had been a lead author for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained, for advocates of climate alarmism the truth is not a priority: “…we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
Fearmongering, of course, has been an effective tool to manipulate the public throughout history.
The myth that population growth will deplete food and resources, and ultimately destroy the planet, can be traced back to the writing of the Reverend Thomas Malthus in 1798.
These idea gained unprecedented traction following the 1968 release of The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich, an entomologist at Stanford University. The book incited such fear of overpopulation that it triggered waves of repression around the world.
The facts, however, tell a different story. Population growth has been slowing for more than three decades. Forty years ago, while the average woman had between five and six children to ensure the survival of the next generation, she now has between two and three. Women are having fewer children because better healthcare means that most babies now live to grow up. As a result, half of the world is already below the long-term replacement level.
Concerns over ‘peak oil’ have also been in and out of vogue over recent decades. Driven by the theory that the world would run out of oil, the reality is that scarcity has been the result of geopolitical disruption rather than resource depletion.
The Club of Rome, an Italian-based think tank established in 1965, investigated resource scarcity in their highly influential book The Limits to Growth. Using computer modelling, they forecast apocalyptic economic and environmental disaster.
Ironically, it has now become clear that, contrary to what they were predicting, the best way to improve humanity and the environment is through more growth, not less. As countries improve their living standards, so too they improve social, economic and environmental wellbeing. It is the resourcefulness of free markets to innovate and maximise the efficient use of resources that results in a progressive improvement in living standards.
What is also bizarre is that while in the 1970s climate computer models predicted that the burning of fossil fuels would trigger another ice age, nowadays they are claiming the exact opposite – that the burning of fossil fuels will cause the planet to dangerously overheat.
This contradiction has not stopped our politicians – with fossil fuels identified as the villain, their policy response of an increasing carbon levy, has effectively imposed socialist state control over all economic activity.
When the Prime Minister and Climate Change Minister introduced their Zero Carbon Act last year, they boasted about imposing the harshest restrictions on carbon emissions of any country in the world. Then last month, they amended the Emissions Trading Scheme to cap carbon emissions, causing the price of carbon to jump from around $25 a tonne to $33.
At $25, New Zealander motorists were paying an ETS levy of around 4c for every litre of petrol they bought. At $33, the levy is now around 7 cents a litre, and at $35, it will be around 9c a litre. Such price hikes will flow right through the economy, increasing the cost of living.
The Climate Change Minister expects carbon prices will go much higher.
Meanwhile the price of carbon has had a major impact on vegetable affordability, especially tomatoes. With hothouses no longer economical in some areas, local growers are being forced to close. As a result, New Zealanders will see an increase in produce imported from countries with no carbon costs.
With the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change specifying that measures introduced to enable countries to meet their carbon targets must not reduce food production, Minister Shaw is clearly breaking the rules.
Governments can only get away with imposing socialist control under the guise of climate change because of their scaremongering. Endlessly claiming that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous global warming, they promote renewable energy as the only sustainable alternative.
In a controversial new film, Planet of the Humans, which climate activists have tried to ban, filmmaker Michael Moore provides a devastating indictment of the renewable energy scam, explaining it is not clean, green, nor sustainable, but is more destructive than the energy sources it seeks to replace.
The film shows how wind, solar and biofuel projects destroy wildlife habitats, rare and endangered species, and millions of acres of forests, deserts and grasslands.
It exposes bogus claims about the benefits of renewable energy and explains that electricity for a small city of 50,000 households requires 15 square miles of solar panels, along with wind turbines, and a huge array of batteries – or a coal or gas power plant – for nights and cloudy days.
Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow has reviewed the film and describes the turbines: “Each one is comprised of nearly 5,000,000 pounds of concrete, steel, aluminum, copper, plastic, cobalt, rare earths, fiberglass and other materials. Every step in the mining, processing, manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance and (20 years later) removal process requires fossil fuels. It bears repeating: wind and sun are renewable and sustainable; harnessing them for energy to benefit mankind absolutely is not.”
While some of the film’s conclusions are questionable, Michael Moore raises concerns about the merits of alternative energy that alarmists have conveniently ignored: “We’re basically being fed a lie.” Maybe we’d be “better off just burning fossil fuels in the first place,” than doing all of this.
Although dissenting voices are not yet dominating the debate about climate alarmism, there is enough concern for political leaders to stop the headlong rush into policy extremism and exercise some common sense judgement.
With New Zealand already struggling to recover from the harsh lockdown, the last thing this country needs is climate policy based on scaremongering to undermine our fragile economic recovery.
Sorry for misleading you, but I cried wolf on climate change
Sorry for misleading you, but I cried wolf on climate change By Michael Shellenberger, The Australian, 1 July 2020
I have been a climate activist for 20 years but on behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created.
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.
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 author’s new book.
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 are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany and France since the mid-1970s;
The Netherlands became rich, not poor, while adapting to life below sea level;
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 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 Organisation of the United Nations, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature 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 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.
I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the 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 favour of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse. But then, last year, things spiralled out of control. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said: “The world is going to end in 12 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 civilisations”. 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 fearmongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.
Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany and France since the mid-1970s.
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, industrialisation, 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 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.
- 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 civilisation are behind much of the alarmism.
The most important thing for reducing pollution and emissions is moving from wood to coal to petrol to natural gas to uranium.
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.
A real crisis
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 [Editor’s note 1: There is compelling evidence this figure is grossly inflated due to dubious practices and methods of measuring] and shattered economies around the globe [Editor’s note 2: It is the related governmental regulations that have ‘shattered economies around the world’, not COVID-19].
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.
Greenpeace didn’t save the whales — switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did.
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 it’s perhaps not as strange as it seems that a lifelong environmentalist and progressive felt the need to speak out against the alarmism. I further hope that you’ll accept my apology.
Michael Shellenberger is president of Environmental Progress, an independent research and policy organisation. He is the author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, published by Harper Collins
Links to previous articles
- The Sun Has Gone Into Lockdown By Michael Snyder, 19 May 2020
- Switzerland’s environmental agency announces national moratorium on 5G By Michael Alexander, Natural News, 20 February 2020
- I Survived Communism. Now, It’s Back, Veiled as ‘Environmentalism’ By Zuzana Janosova-Den Boer, 11 February 2020
- Top NZ Scientist Describes “Global Warming” As Pseudoscience From HumansAreFree.com, 8 February 2020
- Global Warming, meet Creationism By Ian Plimer, The Spectator, March 2020
- ARE YOU READY TO LEAVE THE U.N. AND THEIR AGENDA From The Marshall Report, 27 June 2016
- 7 Major Earth Changes, the real cause for alarmismBy Michael Snyder, Zerohedge, 17 January 2020
- Great Barrier Reef coral testing ‘flawed, needs fix’, says Peter Ridd By Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 2 January 2020
- Great Barrier Reef truth may be inconvenient but it is out there By Professor Peter Ridd, The Australian, 2 January 2020
- Climate Change Alarmism Is A Despicably Anti-Human Ideology From HumansAreFree.com, 28 December 2019
- The dangerous winds of trying to prevent climate change By Duggan Flanakin, Canada Free Press, 26 December 2019
- Is the reef really dying By Greg Bearup, The Australian, 21 December 2019Media panic on climate, bushfires and a vacation The Australian editorial, 19 December 2019
- COP25, an epic cop-out By Damian Wilson, RT.com, 17 December 2019
- The Deliberate Deception to Demonize CO2 By Dr. Tim Ball, Climatologist, 12 December 2019
- Feeding the Fat Green Pigs Published by the Saltbush Club, www.saltbushclub.com. 29 November 2019
- Climate alarmists are brazen opportunists preying on misery By Chris Kenny, The Australian, 21 November 2019
- NZ’s Zero Carbon Bill By Dr Muriel Newman, NZCPR, 26 October 2019
- The madness of Extinction Rebellion By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 12 October 2019
- Climate activists recruiting child soldiers By Jennifer Oriel, The Australian, 30 September 2019
- Letter to UN, There is no climate emergency There is no climate emergency, 23 September 2019
- Climate change signals part of socialist plot By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 12 July 2019
- Climate activists are the establishment By Nick Cater, Columnist, Spiked, 22 June 2019
- Sciences Untold Scandal,Professional Societies Promote the Climate Change Scare By Tom Harris, Dr Jay Lehr, 27 May 2019
- New Zealand’s Labour Government suicidal Climate Change plans By Dr Muriel Newman, NZCPR.com, 17 May 2019
- Coral can take the heat, unlike experts crying wolf By (Professor) Peter Ridd, The Australian, 26 December 2018
- An ideological mess of monumental proportions By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 6 July 2018
- New Zealand is killing its economy by green zealotry By Dr Muriel Newman, NZCPR Weekly, 27 June 2018
- James Cook University trashes science and ethics By Dr Walter Starck, Quadrant Online, 4 June 2018
- Why, Twenty-One Times Why By Dr Walter Starck, Quadrant Online, 3 May 2018
- Adani opposition ignores reality of world’s energy needs from coal and oil By Julian Tomlinson, The Cairns Post, 8 March 2018
- Chilling fact is most climate change theories are wrong By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 8 March 2018
- Greens show their true colour, red By Jennifer Oriel, The Australian, 12 February 2018
- The inconvenient truth is that catastrophists are wrong By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 17 January 2017
- Progress versus ‘progressives’, Greens have lost the plot By Nick Cater, The Australian, 9 January 2018
- After 30 Years, Alarmists Are Still Predicting A Global Warming ‘Apocalypse’ By Michael Bastasch, 26 November
- Understanding the modern Green movement Two articles: Nick Cater, then Greg Brown, The Australian, 21 November
- Climate change is ‘the biggest scientific fraud ever perpetrated’ By Steven Mosher, 18 October 2017
- Australia’s broadcaster, ABC, is guilty of soft treason By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 23 October 2017
- Abbott’s speech tells it like it is on global warming By John Stone, The Australian, 17 Oct 2017
- Cairns Post editorial, 171012 By Julian Tomlinson, The Cairns Post, 12 October 2017
- Climate evangelists reduce debate to a binary farce The Australian newspaper Editorials, 11 and 12 October 2017
- A common-sense way through the climate conflict By former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, form The Australian, 10 October 2017
- Recycling, a guilt-suppressing eco-fad By Nick Cater, The Australian, 3 October 2017
- The poor are carrying the cost of today’s climate policies By Matt Ridley, from The Rational Optimist, 1 October, 2017
- Climate Change Science Implodes By Mike Adams, via HumansAreFree, 23 September 2017
- The Australian Bureau of Meteorology caught cooking the books yet again Maurice Newman, The Australian, 19 September 2017
- Beware Greens’ scaremongering By Ben Pile, Spiked Online, 16 September 2017
- Media’s silence of the climate scams By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 1 August 2017
- Paris climate dreams as India stays real By Gary Johns, The Australian, 14 July 2017
- Cairns Post Editorial, Julian Tomlinson, 170622 Cairns Post Editorial, 22 June 2017
- Western climate change alarmists won’t admit they are wrong By Clive James, The Australian, 3 June 2017
- Cairns Post editorial, 25 May 2017 Julian Tomlinson, Cairns Post, 25 May 2017
- Green lunacies that literally cost the Earth By James Delingpole, The Daily Mail, 20 February 2017
- Is Climate Alarmism Governance at War with the USA By Leo Goldstein, from Watts Up With That website, 11 January 2017
- derailing-the-marrakech-express By Michael Kile, Quadrant Online, 20 November 2016
- finally-warmists-find-a-real-threat By Tony Thomas, Quadrant Online, 15 November 2016
- cp-editorial-on-agw-distortions-011116 – by Andrew Bolt, Going cold on climate science, 1 November 2016
- cp-editorial-271016 By Julian Tomlinson, Cairns Post, 27 October 2016
- bjorn-lomborg-take-those-organic-food-claims-with-a-grain-of-salt By Bjorn Lomborg, The Australian, 16 October 2016
- like-all-cults-climate-alarmism-will-fail-when-its-prophecies-dont-materialise By Peter Campion, 14 September 2016
- Young Heads Filled With Green Mush By Tony Thomas, Quadrant Online, 3 August
- Brexit threatens Climate Gravy train – time for Clexit By Jo Nova, joannenova.com.au/, 3 August 2016
- Golden rice, the miracle crop Greenpeace hates By George Harrison, Spiked Online, 23 July 2016
- A fantasy green-tech future By Nick Cater, The Australian, 19 July 2016
- The Reef’s Self-Serving Saviours By Dr Walter Starck, Quadrant Online, 19 June 2016
- Exaggeration, hyperbole and even lies, by Julian Tomlinson, Cairns Post, 2 June 2016
- How climate and environmental propaganda works By Paul Driesson, Townhall, 3 May
- How Greens kill off industry by stealth By Alan Oxley, Quadrant Online, 31 March
- Are Environmentalism and Global Warming Effectively Religious Socialism By Dr. Tim Ball, 23 February 2016
- The economic costs of excessive environmental legislation By Dr Muriel Newman, NZ Centre for Political Research, 18 February 2016
- Climate change, CSIRO realigns after groupthink fails By Michael Asten, The Australian, 12 February 2016
- Bureau of Meteorology needs to open its records to audit By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 1 February 2016
- http://joannenova.com.au/2016/01/bob-carter-a-great-man-gone-far-too-soon/ Joanne Nova, 21 November 2016
- Chilling climate of UN control By Maurice Newman, The Australian, 28 December
- Paris talks – agreeing to dodge democracy – By Ben Pile, Spiked Online, 19 December
- Ruinous water plan based on environmentalist lies By Ron Pike, Quadrant Online, 18 October 2015
- Global warming zealots blamed for deadly diesel fiasco By Steven Glover, The Daily Mail, 25 September 2015
- Killing people versus cheating EPA regulations From Zerohedge, 22 September 2015
- Oxfam’s real agenda – destroy Australian coal industry By Henry Thomas, Quadrant Online, 14 September 2015
- The Green Scare Problem By Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal, 14 August 2015
- Greens destroy world’s wildlife By Christopher Booker, The Telegraph, 7 July 2015
- Greens infiltrate the classroom By Gary Johns, 1 July 2015
- Climate science, the settled careerist variety By Walter Starck
- Why the Left needs climate change By Steven Hayward, Forbes, 13 June 2015
- IPCC is to science is what FIFA is to soccer By Nick Cater, The Australian, 9 June 2015
- Terrible news for climate catastrophists By James Delingpole, 6 June 2015
- 25 years of dud tipping point predictions Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller, 19 May
- The Greek Orthodox Creed of Warmism By Michael Kile, Quadrant Online, 5 May
- Are you now, or have you ever been, a climate contrarian By Brendan O’Neill, Editor of spiked, 2 May 2015
- Putting the acid on the Great Barrier Reef doomsayers By Patrick Moore, The Australian, 13 April 2015
- Flashback 1971, burning coal will cause ice age By Michael Bastasch, 7 April 2015
- UN, depopulate the planet to combat climate change By Steve Watson, 7 April 2015
- Time to Put Warmists Under Oath By Walter Starck, Quadrant Online, 3 April 2015
- ‘Greens’ plans to return to the Stone Age By Nick Cater, The Australian, 31 March 2015
- Global warming consensus claim fraudulent By Richard Tol, The Australian, 25 March
- When environmentalism becomes a crime against humanity By Ivo Vetger, 18 March
- To be ‘green’ or progressive, you can’t be both By Tim Black, Spiked, 14 Mar 2015
- EPA Chief cannot answer climate questions Editorial, Investors Business Daily, 7 Mar
- GM, the scientific argument is over By Matt Ridley, The Times, 5 Mar 2015
- Montana bill kills UN’s Agenda 21 by KLXF.com, 25 Feb 2015
- The ‘Green Blob’ is threatening lives in Africa By Matthew Holehouse, 24 Feb 2015
- ‘Science’ destroys its own credibility By Garth Paltridge 17 Feb 2015
- The biggest science scandal ever By Christopher Booker, The Telegraph, 7 Feb 2015
- How to make a pyre of the bush by Roger Underwood, Quadrant Online, 8 Feb 2015
- Beware, ‘green’ danger ahead by Andrew Montford, The Spectator, 6 Feb 2015
- The left’s gravy train derailing by Maurice Newman, The Australian