Guest “attaboy” by David Middleton
Dec 4, 2019
Why Climate Alarmism Hurts Us All
I write about energy and the environment.
In July of this year, one of Lauren Jeffrey’s science teachers made an off-hand comment about how climate change could be apocalyptic. Jeffrey is 17 years old and attends high school in Milton Keynes, a city of 230,000 people about 50 miles northwest of London.
“I did research on it and spent two months feeling quite anxious,” she told me. “I would hear young people around me talk about it and they were convinced that the world was going to end and they were going to die.”
In September, British psychologists warned of the impact on children of apocalyptic discussions of climate change. “There is no doubt in my mind that they are being emotionally impacted,” one expert said.
“I found a lot of blogs and videos talking about how we’re going extinct at various dates, 2030, 2035, from societal collapse,” said Jeffrey. “That’s when I started to get quite nervous and worried. I tried to forget it at first but it kept popping up in my mind.”
I did research and found there was a lot of misinformation on the denial side of things and also on the doomsayer side of things,” said Jeffrey.
“As important as your cause is,” said Jeffrey in one of the videos, an open letter to Extinction Rebellion, “your persistent exaggeration of the facts has the potential to do more harm than good to the scientific credibility of your cause as well as to the psychological well-being of my generation.”
Why There’s No Apocalypse in Science
In my last column, I pointed out that there is no scientific basis for claims that climate change will be apocalyptic, and argued that environmental journalists and climate activists alike have an obligation to separate fact from fiction.
If you haven’t read that column yet, I hope you do so before continuing.
“The global energy system today, as modeled by IEA, is tracking much closer to 2˚ of warming this century than previously thought,” notes Ritchie, due to lower use of coal.
The full article is well-worth reading. Mr. Shellenberger does a great job in pointing out how the apocalyptic exaggerations by the media, activists and some scientists are possibly (I would say definitely) causing more harm than anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
His article featured this graph from the UN FAO:
Basically, even if the climate models were right (they aren’t), technological advances will more then compensate for any negative AGW impacts on food production.
Mr. Schellenberger had another great article in Forbes a few days ago…
Feb 17, 2020
If They Are So Alarmed By Climate Change, Why Are They So Opposed To Solving It?
I write about energy and the environment
Nobody appears to be more concerned about climate change than Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders, student activist Greta Thunberg, and the thousands of Extinction Rebellion activists who shut down London last year.
Last year, Sanders called climate change “an existential threat.” Extinction Rebellion said, “Billions will die.” And Thunberg said, “I don’t want you to be hopeful” about climate change, “I want you to panic.”
But if Sanders, Thunberg, and Extinction Rebellion are so alarmed about carbon emissions, why are they fighting to halt the use of two technologies, fracking and nuclear, that are most responsible for reducing them?
Sanders says he would ban both natural gas and nuclear energy, Thunberg says she opposes nuclear energy, and Extinction Rebellion’s spokesperson said in a debate with me on BBC that she opposes natural gas.
And yet, emissions are declining thanks to the higher use of nuclear energy and natural gas. Carbon emissions have been declining in developed nations for the last decade. In Europe, emissions in 2018 were 23% below 1990 levels. In the U.S., emissions fell 15 percent from 2005 to 2016.
Can They Be Serious?
What gives? Why are the people who are most alarmist about climate change so opposed to the technologies that are solving it?
One possibility is that they truly believe nuclear and natural gas are as dangerous as climate change. This appears to be partly the case for nuclear energy, even though neither Sanders nor Thunberg offers anti-nuclear rhetoric anywhere nearly as apocalyptic as their rhetoric on climate change.
Before progressives were apocalyptic about climate change they were apocalyptic about nuclear energy. Then, after the Cold War ended, and the threat of nuclear war declined radically, they found a new vehicle for their secular apocalypse in the form of climate change.
Though nuclear energy has prevented the premature deaths of nearly two million people by reducing air pollution, and though nuclear weapons have contributed to the Long Peace since World War II, many people remain phobic of the technology.
In the case of natural gas, neither Sanders, Thunberg, or Extinction Rebellion claim it is more dangerous or worse than coal. They simply argue that we don’t need it, thanks to renewables and energy efficiency.
Why Alarmism Requires Opposing Technology
What’s happening with climate change is not the first time those who are most alarmist about an environmental problem have been most opposed to solving it.
In the early 1800s, the British economist Thomas Malthus opposed birth control, even as he raised the alarm over overpopulation and the threat of famines.
After World War II, scientists and environmentalists in Europe and the U.S. opposed fossil fuels and the provision of chemical fertilizers to poor nations even as they raised the alarm about soil erosion, overpopulation, and famine.
In every case, alarmists claim some moral basis for their opposition to technical fixes.
The End of Civilization
Apocalyptic environmentalists like Sanders, Thunberg, and Extinction Rebellion insist that if we don’t enact their agenda, industrial civilization will come to an end. But if they are so concerned with protecting industrial civilization, why do they advocate solutions that would end it?
Do Sanders, Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and other apocalyptic greens really believe that, by raising the alarm about the end of the world, they will persuade societies to choose the low-energy path?
Perhaps. But they may also fear, consciously or unconsciously, that the outsized role played by natural gas and nuclear means that climate apocalypse can be averted without any of the radical societal transformations they demand. After all, if nations were to simply use natural gas to transition to nuclear, there would be little need to stop traffic in London, moralize about the virtues of foregoing meat, flying, and driving, or deploy renewables.Forbes
My only serious disagreement is with this…
And yet, emissions are declining thanks to the higher use of nuclear energy and natural gas.
Emissions are declining thanks to the higher use of natural gas. However, the only viable path to low-carbon energy production would require a massive expansion of nuclear power production. The fact that the alarmists oppose both natural gas and nuclear power is prima facie evidence that they are Enviromarxists and that the Green New Deal is just like Stalin’s grave: A Communist plot.
I also have to give a mini-attaboy to the midget oligarch for getting in Bernie’s face last night, I think he even called him a Communist…
Sanders and Bloomberg split over fracking
Tonight’s Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas laid bare the candidates’ differences over fracking as Bernie Sanders defended his push for an outright ban and challenged concerns that it could hurt Democrats politically.
Driving the news: NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Sanders what he would tell workers in Pennsylvania, a swing state where natural gas extraction via fracking is a major industry. Todd cited this New York Times piece on the politics of fracking there.
Sanders, who is leading in national polls, replied he would tell workers of the need to act “incredibly boldly” in the near future to prevent “irreparable” global damage from climate change.
‘The Green New Deal that I support, by the way, will create up to 20 million good-paying jobs as we move our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” said Sanders.
The other side: Michael Bloomberg, whose has donated heavily to anti-coal and other climate efforts, said he did not support a ban a fracking, the technique that has enabled the decade-plus surge in U.S. oil and natural gas production.
“If we enforced some of the rules on fracking so that they don’t release methane into the air and into the water, you will make a big difference, but we are not going to get rid of fracking for a while,” he said.
“We want to go to all renewables, but that is still many years from now,” Bloomberg said.