Michael Shellenberger is author of the new book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. Quillette excerpted it in “Why I Believe Climate Change Is Not the End of the World.” Last month John Tierney reviewed the book for the Wall Street Journal in “False Gods for Lost Souls.” Tierney writes:
[Shellenberger] chronicles environmental progress around the world and crisply debunks myth after gloomy myth. No, we are not in the midst of the “sixth mass extinction,” because only 0.001% of the planet’s species go extinct annually. No, whales were not saved by Greenpeace but rather by the capitalist entrepreneurs who discovered cheaper substitutes for whale oil (first petroleum, then vegetable oils) that decimated the whaling industry long before activists got involved. No, plastics don’t linger for thousands of years in the ocean; they’re broken down by sunlight and other forces. No, climate change has not caused an increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.
In 2002, Mr. Shellenberger proposed the New Apollo Project, a precursor to the Green New Deal. Many of its ideas for promoting renewable energy were adopted by the Obama administration and received more than $150 billion in federal funds, but Mr. Shellenberger was disillusioned with the results. A disproportionate share of the money, as he documents, went to companies that enriched donors to the Obama campaign but failed to yield practical technologies.
He now considers most forms of renewable energy to be impractical for large-scale use. Windmills and solar power are too expensive and unreliable as a primary source of power for people in poor countries, and they cause too much environmental damage because they require vast areas of land and harm flora and fauna. He faults Western activists and governments for trying to force these technologies on Third World countries and prevent them from building hydroelectric and fossil-fuel power plants.
I have posted Jonathan Kay’s podcast with Shellenberger below. They talk global warming, natural disasters, media scaremongering—and why the world is actually getting safer. This seems to me a useful introduction to heterodox thought on the subject for students and others subject who might be open to hearing the other side of the story from someone who used to be a leader of the other side.