Apocalypse Never

Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

[Amazon Link]

This book by onetime environmental hero, Michael Shellenberger, aims at a lot of sacred cows: Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, 350.org, Greta Thunberg, Tom Steyer, Bill McKibben, Malthus, Leo DiCaprio,… He paints a convincing (to me) case that "environmental alarmism" is a dangerous trend, very likely to do more harm than good.

It's very wide-ranging. (Maybe even a little unfocused.) Let's see if I can summarize: most of the "solutions" to environmental issues peddled by the activists are (at best) ineffective and, very often, counterproductive. Specifically, they doom poorer nations to their poverty, mandating (for example) that they give up relatively reliable and cheap fossil fuel and hydro for expensive and unreliable "renewables": solar and wind. Worse, they've successfully kiboshed nuclear energy in the richer nations. In addition to being unreliable and expensive, transitioning to solar/wind power would require vast amounts of land, squeezing out wilderness, endangering species. (Especially birds and bats.)

All this alarmism is accompanied by massive amounts of propaganda, scare tactics, and politicized science. Dissenting voices are ignored or slandered.

Shellenberger also scores points against the anti-nuclear crowd via hoisting them on their own petard. They routinely excoriate think tanks and scholars, sometimes falsely, for taking their funding from hands that might once have touched fossil fuel. But, Shellenberger says, wait a minute: doesn't that equally condemn the anti-nukers who are massively funded by oil/gas/renewable magnates?

Well, sure. If we were judging everyone by the same standards. (The idea that we should take arguments on their merits, instead of "following the money", has long since been abandoned by the alarmist crowd.)

Much of Shellenberger's thesis will be familiar to people who read outside the (unfortunately huge and impermeable) alarmist bubble. But his credentials seem solid, and he provides a welcome counterpoint to the green totalitarians.