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Energy

Leading environmentalist apologizes for “The Climate Scare”

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MICHAEL SHELLENBERG IN MARANHÃO, BRAZIL, 1995

In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change invited Michael Shellenberger to serve as an independent Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report.

He’s been named “Hero of the Environment,”  by Time Magazine.  He’s a Green Book Award winner,  He founded  Environmental Progress.  Now… He’s sorry.  

This week, Shellenberger posted this apology on his website.  It’s important.  Really important. 

From Michael Shellenberg


On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare

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% 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 are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s

  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level

  • 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

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.

 

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Alberta

International Energy Agency boss prefers oil and gas from Canada

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This article is submitted by Canadian Energy Centre Ltd.

Producers building a competitive advantage with ESG performance

The head of the International Energy Agency says Canada is a preferred global oil and gas supplier and should take steps to ensure it remains so in the decades to come.  

IEA executive director Fatih Birol is a big advocate for net zero targets, but he knows that even as the world transforms its energy systems, oil and gas will be around for a long time.  

He’d prefer the supply comes from “good partners” like Canada, Birol said on Jan. 13 during the virtual launch of the IEA’s Canada 2022 report.  

The Paris-based IEA is a world-recognized authority on energy supply, demand and policy.  

“Canada has been a cornerstone of global energy markets, a reliable partner, for years,” Birol said.   

“We will still need oil and gas for years to come… I prefer that oil is produced by countries… like Canada who want to reduce the emissions of oil and gas.” 

World oil consumption has returned near pre-pandemic levels, and natural gas demand surpassed levels pre-COVID last year, according to IEA data. Consumption of both is expected to continue rising even as more renewable energy sources come online.  

In Europe, energy customers are feeling the pain of dealing with an unreliable supplier.  

Birol said Europe’s natural gas crisis is in part because it depends on Russia for nearly half its natural gas imports. As a result, Russia’s policies “have a huge impact on the European energy mix.”  

Right now, Russia has unused capacity to send the equivalent of a full LNG vessel every day to help reduce natural gas prices in Europe, amid a standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine, Birol told reporters last week. 

“[The] world needs reliable partners,” he said. Canada’s first LNG exports are expected in 2025 and forecast to rise steadily thereafter, the IEA noted in its report.  

Canada is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil and natural gas and home to the third-largest oil reserves, which “creates employment for Canadians and secure and reliable oil and gas for both domestic and global markets,” the IEA said.  

Remaining competitive in global oil and gas markets – and ensuring the sector remains a major driver of the Canadian economy beyond 2050 – requires emissions reductions, the IEA said, praising work that has been done already. 

Canada is not only stable and reliable, but its LNG supply will also be cleaner than competitors, the IEA said.  

The LNG Canada project that is under construction in B.C. is expected to have the lowest carbon emissions intensity of any large LNG facility currently operating in the world, at 60 per cent lower than the global average. 

Other proposed LNG projects in Canada plan to use clean, renewable hydroelectricity to power operations, resulting in emissions profiles up to 90 per cent lower than global competitors, the IEA said.  

Analysts praised the oil and gas industry’s “strong track record” of reducing emissions intensity, in the oil sands by 32 per cent since 1990 and by 13 per cent for natural gas production since 2010. A further reduction of up to 27 per cent is expected in the oil sands by 2030. 

The success is in part because of large investments in clean technology and environmental protection, the IEA said. 

Oil and gas companies in Canada together spend an average of $1 billion per year on energy cleantech, in addition to billions in environmental protection.  

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives – by far the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country, the IEA said.  

“Canadian oil and natural gas producers are leveraging their improving environmental, social and governance performance and Canada’s stringent environmental regulations to build a global competitive advantage” as interest in cleaner fuels and environmental sustainability grows. 

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Energy

Satellite photos show aftermath of Abu Dhabi oil site attack

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday appear to show the aftermath of a fatal attack on an oil facility in the capital of the United Arab Emirates claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The attack brought the long-running Yemen war into Emirati territory on Monday. That conflict raged on overnight with Saudi-led airstrikes pounding Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, killing and wounding civilians.

Meanwhile, fears over new disruptions to global energy supplies after the Abu Dhabi attack pushed benchmark Brent crude to its highest price in years.

The images by Planet Labs PBC analyzed by the AP show smoke rising over an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in the Mussafah neighborhood of Abu Dhabi after the attack. Another image taken shortly after appears to show scorch marks and white fire-suppressing foam deployed on the grounds of the depot.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., known by the acronym ADNOC, is the state-owned energy firm that provides much of the wealth of the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula and also home to Dubai.

ADNOC did not respond to questions from the AP asking about the site and damage estimates from the attack. The company had said the attack happened around 10 a.m. Monday.

“We are working closely with the relevant authorities to determine the exact cause and a detailed investigation has commenced,” ADNOC said in an earlier statement.

The attack killed two Indian nationals and one Pakistani as three tankers at the site exploded, police said. Six people were also wounded at the facility, which is near Al-Dhafra Air Base, a massive Emirati installation that is also home to American and French forces.

Another fire also struck Abu Dhabi International Airport, though damage in that attack could not be seen. Journalists have not been able to view the sites attacked and state-run media have not published photographs of the areas.

Police described the assault as a suspected drone attack. The Houthis claimed they used cruise and ballistic missiles in the attack, without offering evidence.

Meanwhile Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen announced it had started a bombing campaign targeting Houthi sites in the capital of Sanaa. It said it also struck a drone-operating base in Nabi Shuaib Mountain near Sanaa.

Overnight videos released by the Houthis showed damage, with the rebels saying the airstrikes killed at least 14 people. Sanaa resident Hassan al-Ahdal said one airstrike hit the house of Brig. Gen. Abdalla Kassem al-Junaid, who heads the Air Academy. He said at least three families were living in the house. Another adjunct house with a four-member family was damaged.

The Saudi-led coalition has faced international criticism for airstrikes hitting civilian targets during the war.

For hours Monday, Emirati officials did not acknowledge the Houthi claims over the Abu Dhabi attack, even as other countries condemned the assault. Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash broke the silence on Twitter, saying that Emirati authorities were handling the rebel group’s “vicious attack on some civilian facilities” with “transparency and responsibility.”

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had been in the Emirates on a state visit, said he spoke to Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, immediately after the attack.

The statement quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying the attack had been “anticipated.” The two had been scheduled to meet during Moon’s visit but the event had been cancelled prior to the attack over an “unforeseen and urgent matter of state,” according to Moon’s office.

The Emirati Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment over Moon’s statement.

Fears over future attacks reaching the UAE, a major oil producer and OPEC member, helped push Brent crude oil prices to their highest level in seven years. On Tuesday, a barrel of Brent crude traded at over $87.50 a barrel, a price unseen since October 2014.

Although the UAE has largely withdrawn its own forces from Yemen, it is still actively engaged in the conflict and supports Yemeni militias fighting the Houthis.

The incident comes as the Houthis face pressure and are suffering heavy losses on the battlefields. Yemeni government forces, allied and backed by the UAE, have pushed back the rebels in key provinces. Aided by the Emirati-backed Giants Brigades, the government forces took back the province of Shabwa earlier this month in a blow to Houthi efforts to complete their control of the entire northern half of Yemen.

While Emirati troops have been killed over the course of the conflict, now in its eight year, the war has not directly affected daily life in the wider UAE, a country with a vast foreign workforce.

___

Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

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