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 the World Health Organisation and IPCC have undermined their credibility through the repeated politicization of science…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
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 notcausing a “sixth mass extinction”
- The Amazon is not“the lungs of the world”
- Climate change is notmaking natural disasters worse
- Fires have declined 25 percent around the world since 2003
- The amount of land we use for meat—humankind’s biggest use of land—hasdeclined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
- The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, notclimate 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 percent 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.