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Author Topic: Apocalypse Never - What are the Community's Thoughts?  (Read 277 times)
smegal
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« on: July 01, 2020, 09:07:15 AM »

Although this topic will cause a debate, as long as we're all civil, I think it is one worth having.

Link to the book. Amaz*n has a better description, but I try not to give them airtime.

https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9780063001695?gC=5a105e8b&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6PD3BRDPARIsAN8pHuHGiPuuXGAayCLW1Ym8gGWYV4aqYn7GrljuUXzotLXHMy9HTdJaf9UaAhKjEALw_wcB

I stumbled across an article about this book, and have started listening to the audiobook. I'm a couple of hours in and have found it interesting that he attributes a lot of the information coming from the likes of XR stems from misquotes of scientists (backed up by interviews of scientists).   

Strap line

Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. It is not even our most serious environmental problem. Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal.

Here's a bit of a synopsis.

Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions.

But in 2019, as some claimed “billions of people are going to die,” contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction.

Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.

Curiously, the people who are the most alarmist about the problems also tend to oppose the obvious solutions.

What’s really behind the rise of apocalyptic environmentalism? There are powerful financial interests. There are desires for status and power. But most of all there is a desire among supposedly secular people for transcendence. This spiritual impulse can be natural and healthy. But in preaching fear without love, and guilt without redemption, the new religion is failing to satisfy our deepest psychological and existential needs.


My thoughts are somewhat similar. Anthropomorphic climate change is real. But is scaring our children half to death and shaming "boomers" the correct way to deal with it?

Or will this author go down the same track as Lovelock, or McKay where the literature doesn't fit the narrative so holes are picked into their work?
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dan_b
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2020, 09:32:50 AM »

This bit scares me.

“ Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.”


Because almost everything in that statement is false; if that’s the core set of facts of his argument that “we’re all going to be fine” then I’d be worried about what his true objective really is.
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smegal
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2020, 10:21:41 AM »

This bit scares me.

“ Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.”


Because almost everything in that statement is false; if that’s the core set of facts of his argument that “we’re all going to be fine” then I’d be worried about what his true objective really is.

His claim here is based on many "developed" nations have replaced coal with natural gas, so the lower carbon intensity of the fuel has reduced offsetting increases in demand. More needs to be done to replace fossil fuels though!

The extreme weather argument really intrigues me. I would love to hear from someone who knows more than I do. He suggested that the financial cost of extreme weather events is down to there being more expensive stuff in harms way. Giving Miami as an example.

Don't confuse slowing growth with decline. I read a book a few years ago (can't remember the name, think it was something to do with "10 billion). The author likened population growth to throwing a ball in the air. Towards the top of the upwards travel, the ball is still going up, but slowing. That is where population growth is heading. Attributed to greater female empowerment and education in the "developing" world, along with lower fertility rates in the "developed" world.

That said, when people do an about turn on their thoughts you have to ask whether it's a moment of clarity or something more sinister.
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 11:04:44 AM »

This bit scares me.

“ Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.”


Because almost everything in that statement is false; if that’s the core set of facts of his argument that “we’re all going to be fine” then I’d be worried about what his true objective really is.

His true objective? He's a nuclear lobbyist.

I thought there was a strong call to 'officially' rename global warming and climate change with 'climate crisis' to bring home to everyone just how bad this is.

Large parts of the World will become too hot to live permanently, and food crops will become less nutritious, plus of course all the additional extreme weather events.

We've got a problem, we've got solutions, and the solutions are actually quite economic, so why not get on with it rather than debating what degree of bad we (our children) will see.
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 11:07:52 AM »

The late great Hans Rosling working on behalf of the UN predicted the slow down in population growth which may be seen in his online talks. However before this occurs the earths population grows very considerably. If the planet could support this is extremely questionable. The heated planet becomes uninhabitable .

I have not read the book but his thoughts on climate change seem to run contrary to the belief of the overwhelming majority of scientific opinion.  bike

Agree with Dan B once you base your evidence on a falsehood you can logically argue that Black is White.



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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 11:17:26 AM »

on extreme weather: it may well be (dont know for sure) that deaths in developing countries from weather disasters has reduced- there is better infrastructure, relief and so on than in the late 1970s. there were cyclones that killed half a million (bay of bengal 1970) a number we havent seen since.
Deaths from hunger have gone down in 4 decades too, as have deaths from many diseases.
But total deaths that is not the right metric in my opinion if you want to have a handle on the total damage that ongoing climate change will cause.
it might sound mercenary, but cost of damage might serve us better than total deaths.
It is amazing that total Miami real estate value has more than doubled in the last 20 years (from new building not value increase), as the city is indefensible to rising sea levels (it sits on porous limestone so the sea will go around any sea walls they build).  However, this does not mean that this is the only reason for higher losses when there is a bad hurricane. higher windspeeds, slower moving hurricanes paths, higher storm surge levels, larger total amounts of precipitation (which when combined with slower moving storm means enormously more flooding) mean that more than twice the cost of damage occurs. its not hard to separate these out actually, and lazy for him to point out one factor (more buildings in harms way) and not acknowledge the others.

way back in the 1990s, the insurance industry was the first financial sector to "get" climate change because they were finding out that the actuarials were wrong- a 100 year flood on a UK river now occurs every 20 years (or more frequently than that) because the 100 year flood was based on a stable climate, not a changing one.  Yes ther are factors other than rainfall intensity that produce higher flood peaks- building in flood plains is bonkers and land management in the catchment upstream can make a massive difference- but total rainfall in single events in the UK has increased markedly in the last 30 years and this is a major part of the reason for the increase in damage caused by flooding events. of course, we have had very few deaths in UK flooding events because we are reasonably good at emergency response, which is why deaths is not the right metric to see how seriously climate change is bringing problems to the UK either.

i'm not going to read this book but so far, he's quoted some selective statistics  to say calm down it's not that bad..... while ignoring wider evidence. This seems to be the current approach of a lot of near-deniers.

we are on a higher emissions path than the worst one in the 1990 IPCC report at the moment, and few of us in the science back then imagined that so little progress would have been achieved to reduce emissions- they increase every year (thats a larger amount more emitted each year, not just a total number going up). its going to take a lot more to turn this ship around.
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 11:24:15 AM »

I was in conversation with someone who works  in a major international relief and development NGO two weeks ago- she said that they had always aimed to be 80pc long term development and only a bit on emergency relief. but in the last 10 years, so many bad "natural" disasters had happened that the organization was forced to do more like 80 pc emergency relief - and a significant number of their long term development projects had been destroyed by floods, so the same teams were running emergency relief efforts instead. there's been a huge change in the world already but its affecting the less developed first and harder. 
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nowty
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2020, 11:42:25 AM »

Looks like something based on half truths which can appear reasonable but just wont stack up under scrutiny.

Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade.
True but not falling fast enough in developed nations and emissions rising elsewhere rapidly and overall, still climbing globally year on year.

Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades.
True but the really bad stuff associated with killing masses of people won’t happen for several more decades and centuries to come. But if we do little to change our current behaviour, come it will.

And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.
Slowing population growth is true but todays population and even a lower population in the past, has and is still emitting too much CO2, temperatures are rising. Abundant natural gas is true and it helps displace coal use but its still a fossil fuel and emits too much carbon.
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2020, 12:08:48 PM »

Yeah I was intrigued by an article he apparently wrote that Forbes ran then pulled ( see below)
Its difficult to speak out against the official narrative these days and getting more difficult by the day.


Quote
Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Environmental Progress

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

    Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor

    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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smegal
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2020, 12:12:06 PM »

Yeah I was intrigued by an article he apparently wrote that Forbes ran then pulled ( see below)
Its difficult to speak out against the official narrative these days and getting more difficult by the day.




An article that linked the (pulled) article was what piqued my interest. I then dropped lucky in that I stumbled across the audiobook on one of the less legitimate sites I frequent.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:21:59 PM by smegal » Logged

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smegal
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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2020, 12:21:29 PM »

Some interesting statements made in the Forbes article my thoughts in bold:


Some highlights from the book:

    Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress This misses the ethical argument completely

    The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land Probably wouldn't have emphasised meat here

    The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium Not convinced by this. Uranium does have a place (in my opinion), but a only small one

    100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50% We all know energy crops are pretty crazy, hence electrification

    We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities Makes sense

    Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4% Probably is about right based on my fagpacket

    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 Not convinced

    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
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2020, 12:39:43 PM »

Well, my opinion (for what it's worth) is that he's probably got a point, but.

I don't think that all his points (from just the summaries in this thread, I've not read his book) accurately represent the situation but then I doubt that 100% of what climate campaigners say does either.  I think that the message from climate campaigners is sometimes over-alarmist (and he gives some good examples) but I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing as it has to balance against the inaction due to vested interests, short-termism, apathy etc.  It would be nice to see a more nuanced and rational discussion about the issue but that doesn't sell copy.
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2020, 12:53:48 PM »

If you get your information and views from the mainstream media theres a lot of fear built in.

If you question the mainstream view ( because we should question everything) you find yourself in the alt media, which is also full of agendas and fear but at least you can access information that offers a different explanation for things done and said in the name of Governments and Corporate interests.

My filter is the fear component. If its there I either stop reading or switch to sceptical.

Science is the new religion and it seems to be damaging itself with people hiding behind it pushing agendas.
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2020, 01:49:19 PM »

Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades.

Shellenberger's been campaigning against environmentalism for at least 15 years, when he wrote about "the death of environmentalism" http://site.iugaza.edu.ps/tissa/files/2010/02/The_Death_of_Environmentalism.pdf - this new book is essentially the same thing he's been peddling for ages.

He's not a climatologist, he's not a reputable scientist, and his work is given short shrift in the energy community. He's just another pundit trying to make a living from selling books based on speculation and wild accusations. He's now doing the tour of shock jocks to promote his book.

In short, the quack has produced more quackery.
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2020, 06:35:42 PM »

When I was younger I thought we might end it all quickly in WW3.
Then Global warming reared its ugly head along with permafrost releasing methane.

Now I think western capitalism and our economic support of China is now rapidly coming home to roost. Only because we greedy westerners supported them. ( I am guilty too with my Chinese PV and Solar thermal and a host of other things too.) 
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