A MUST WATCH: Environmentalist Michael Shellenberger on rejecting climate alarmism

The Heartland Institute’s Donald Kendal, Jim Lakely, and The Center for the American Experiment’s Isaac Orr are joined by Michael Shellenberger in episode 250 of the In The Tank Podcast. Shellenberger is on the show to talk about his “controversial” new book “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

The book destroys the climate alarmist narrative that the world is coming to an end and that wind and solar are the future of energy in the United States. He also discusses how climate alarmism has become the new secular religion that he once observed, and his journey to the side of reason, science, and realism.

On Amazon: Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

Environmental Progress https://environmentalprogress.org/fou…

Deep reading: Climate Change Reconsidered series (published by The Heartland Institute) http://climatechangereconsidered.org/

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July 3, 2020 1:02 pm

I haven’t finished listening to it.
But he seems to think energy density is the key. And I think time is the key.
Or I think solar energy works great lunar polar region and works ok on Mars.
And problem of solar energy on Earth is we have thick atmosphere. And in solar energy field one has term of peak solar hours. Which basically 6 hours a day. Or 25% of a 24 hour day. And wind has similar problem, in some ways worse, because solar energy at least is somewhat predictable.
Or the no shortage of “land” on Earth if count ocean as “land”. And for humans ocean “land” could be a lot better than land, land. Using ocean as land, it merely a technological problem. Though really it’s mostly a political problem- technologically it appears quite simple to solve. The technology problem is making square foot living area, cheap enough. Compared nuclear energy problems or L-5 colony in space, Ocean living is really simple.
Also in terms of environment, having settlements in space, would help it terms of “environmental technology” on Earth. And space living and ocean living are similar in that respect.
Anyways one has no shortage of open ocean which is kind like desert, and human living could bring more “biomass” to these “ocean deserts”. And other “barren regions” of ocean could have are such things as wind or solar, but wind and solar don’t work due to issue to do with “time”.
Back to Mars, on get solar energy 50% of the time, and one get with grid, 100% of time. With polar regions, can get 85% of the time, and with grid more easily get 100% of the time. Such time is simple not possible on Earth- due to it’s thick atmosphere {and also Earth’s variable weather}.
One thing do with Mars is stop the global dust storms- which should easy to at least reduce this effect- though eliminating all dust storms, similar trying to stop all dust storms on Earth. But even with Mars global dust storms, Mars is still better than Earth in terms of solar energy- due to thin atmosphere and one harvest solar energy in polar regions as easy as anywhere on planet {or actually polar regions are better].

Reply to  gbaikie
July 3, 2020 1:13 pm

Energy density dictates WHY time is a key, and so that’s why I agree that eng den is the main key.

Reply to  gbaikie
July 3, 2020 3:40 pm

I always wondered how Shellenberger could see the energy density issue so clearly but not see many other issues around this debate. It seems he is coming around.

Reply to  Scissor
July 4, 2020 4:05 am

Seems he’s still sold on 3 or 4 degrees and still thinks CO2 is more dangerous to life than ionising radiation. but like Zion Lightbulb, he’s had his road to Damascus moment. At least now he is thinking independently, it may take some time but he’ll get there.

Reply to  Scissor
July 4, 2020 5:31 am

I’m still barely a quarter way through his book but I keep asking myself, “why, since you evidently knew all these things (like the manufacture of clothing in poor countries as a route out of poverty, for example) years ago, why are you only speaking out now?”

And there is still the underlying hint (I may be wrong) that he still sees CO2 as the climate driver and something to reduced at (virtually) any cost. If I’m right I would be very keen to know what keeps him from that final leap.

So far he has confirmed what many of us have known for decades: environmental activists are pathological liars and hypocrites and have been thoroughly infiltrated by the anarchists and the totalitarian left.

Reply to  Newminster
July 4, 2020 1:26 pm


Don’t recall if it was in this podcast or an article I read about Shellenberger but he said he’s reached a point in his career where he can finally come out and say what he really believes. In other words he now believes he’s to big to silence(destroy), that remains to be seen as many have found to their detriment.

Mark Pawelek
Reply to  Scissor
July 4, 2020 2:47 pm

Because he doesn’t understand arguments for climate doom are made up too. Just like renewables the saviour was made up. Climate doom was made up by modellers who convinced other scientists their models were legitimate. Doomster modellers believe their own doom laden scenarios. Many people with a social sciences or arts background like Schellenberger take people who claim to be scientists at their word. They think the because the scientists conned themselves they are sincere. They associate sincerity with authenticity.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  gbaikie
July 3, 2020 4:22 pm

Even if solar and wind generators worked effectively 24 hours a day they would still be way behind thermal and hydro power in terms of long-term economic sustainability

Reply to  Chris Hanley
July 3, 2020 10:57 pm

Solar energy can’t work in Germany or Canada. There and are regions which have 3 to 4 times more solar energy. If we had a thin atmosphere Germany and Canada would work- they could be much better than Mars.
Or Mars get 60% less sunlight at Mars distance from the Sun compared to Earth distance from the Sun- and Mars is better than anywhere on Earth due it’s thin atmosphere. Or Earth you get 50% daylight but when sun is at 30 degree above horizon it’s going thru twice as atmosphere.

So if at 45 degrees latitude and at equinox {start of spring or fall} the
sun reaches at noon 45 degrees above horizon.
If at 30 degree latitude instead at noon is 60 degrees above the horizon.
Now go to midsummer.
At 45 degrees latitude sun is +23.5 degrees higher in sky at noon.
45 + 23.5 = 68.5 degree. Sun 68.5 degree above horizon at noon at 45 degree latitude.
How long does sun stay above 30 degree above the horizon?
The further you towards the poles the longer the daylight in summer. So, maybe around 16 hours of daylight.
At 30 degree latitude daylight hours don’t change much, summer, say 13 hours of daylight, but midsummer at noon 60 + 23.5 = 83.5 degrees
above horizon and every hour, rises or fall by about 15 degree per hour.
So three hours before noon: 83.5 – 45 = 38.5 degrees above horizon.
Peak sunlight hours is roughly 3 hours before noon and 3 hours after noon.
So 9 am, one might get say 600 watts per hour, 10 am could around 800 watts, and 11 am to 1 pm it could +950 watts with peaking near noon at +1000 watts per square meter.
At 45 degree latitude sun rises and falls at less than 15 degrees per hour. Say close to 10 degrees per hour. 16 hour daylight sun starts rising for 8 hours to noon, 8 times 10 = 80 degrees, but we know it’s rising to 68.5 degrees above horizon. But it’s flattened curve, and we go 10 degrees per hour anyhow. So 3 hours before noon is 68.5 – 30 = 38.5 degrees above horizon, so getting same amount sunlight: about 600 watts per square meter, but climbing only 10 degree in next hour, it will less than 800 watts by 10 am, and noon time might get around 900 watts per square meter. Now you might get longer peak hour but unless you have movable solar arrays, you get say 300 watts or less and movable you get around 400 watts. And with movable solar array one might extend it to 10 hour in a day and first and last hour, get about 100 watts per square meter. But of course the long hours are only in summer of only about 1/4 of the year. But at 30 degree latitude you get more sunlight in summer than 45 degree latitude or higher, and do a lot better in 3/4 quarters of the remainder of the year.
Or Germany or Canada suck unless you only want collect solar energy near summertime. And if can point the arrays, as compared to fixed arrays at 30 degree latitude, you might do better in summertime particularly if don’t need much energy when sun is closer to horizon.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  gbaikie
July 4, 2020 2:19 pm

All you say is true, to the extent I’ve checked a couple of your numbers, but you are missing the forest for the trees. If solar panels were free, solar electricity would still be too expensive, once you either add batteries for storage and load leveling or standby fossil/nuclear plants to achieve the same objective.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
July 4, 2020 3:12 pm

–All you say is true, to the extent I’ve checked a couple of your numbers, but you are missing the forest for the trees. If solar panels were free, solar electricity would still be too expensive, once you either add batteries for storage and load leveling or standby fossil/nuclear plants to achieve the same objective.–
Solar power and wind power and “biofuel” are a waste money and bad for environment. And don’t reduce CO2 emissions. Shellenberger is saying it’s about power density. I agree that is a problem. But saying also or more importantly about time. And Earth thick atmosphere is a significant aspect of the “time issue”.
Or lunar poles doesn’t have the time problem. Of course lunar polar region will also have a higher power density, but I saying because with lunar region one solve the time issue, it’s much better in terms of using solar panels. Of GEO orbit, also has higher power density and solves time problem.
Or significant advantage of Solar power Satellite, is they could be used to balance Earth’s entire electrical market, rather earth surface solar power, which imbalances it.

But mentioned Mars because Mars gets far less solar energy than at Earth distance from the Sun, but despite having 60% less sunlight {60% less power density}, but since Mars has thin atmosphere, solar power at Mars surface can be better than solar power at Earth surface. A large part of how Mars is better than Earth, is one use the polar region of Mars to harvest solar energy. And with Earth you can’t because earth has thick atmosphere.
Or whenever sun at 30 degrees above horizon, the sunlight has go thru twice as much of Earth’s thick atmosphere, and as sun lower than 30 degrees, the sun has to progressively go thru more atmosphere.
With lunar region region the sun is always low at the horizon, but if point solar panel at it {and you the full disk of the sun, or not partially not blocked by terrain features} you get 1360 watts per square meter. And there some locations due to terrain feature, that instead 50%, you can get 85% of time in which you get solar power. And if encircle the very small polar region of the Moon, you can get solar power all the time, feeding into the grid.
With GEO one satellite can get about 90% of the time, and with satellite grid, likewise can get 100% of the time, also.
Though Earth does block Sunlight reaching the moon, but sunlight bent thru Earth atmosphere- dramatically less sunlight during lunar eclipse. Likewise GEO satellite are blocked by Earth- and GEO grid solves that. Lunar polar region is slightly poor man, SPS grid. But with lunar polar region you don’t problem beaming power to Earth, because you use the power on the Moon.
And Mars slightly similar to Moon- it has to be bigger polar grid, it has much less sunlight, and if going 5 to 10 times it’s atmosphere, it will blocks some sunlight. But terrain feature not even in polar region could be used, on Mars and they don’t work as well on Earth {because of it’s thick atmosphere}.
Solar power works fine in space- and solar power was developed specifically for space use- or we wouldn’t even have this technology without the global satellite industry.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  gbaikie
July 4, 2020 4:55 pm

Mars’ surface is frequently entirely blanketed by dust storms, many lasting weeks. It would be impossible to base a Mars colony’s survival on Solar power alone. And, in fact, it’s ridiculous just from a cost standpoint to try. The most primitive nuclear power source (RTG, or low-tech graphite-moderated natural uranium reactor) would be far superior. There could certainly be no NIMBY lawsuits…

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
July 4, 2020 6:15 pm

“The most primitive nuclear power source (RTG, or low-tech graphite-moderated natural uranium reactor) would be far superior.”
RTG don’t provide much power, but they are constant and reliable and provide some power. So you might have couple of them, but solar panels could provide much more power.
In terms of exploration {rather than human settlements} NASA is developing small nuclear powerplant which will provide a lot more power than RTGs per mass. But imagine NASA will use solar power for it’s Mars explorational bases.

NASA solar robots run around with flat solar panel which collected dusts and they lucky when dust devil removes the dust. with Mars base one could arrays which point at the sun and you blow off the dust, periodically. Similar to how have to keep solar panels clean on Earth. Imagine trying to drive a car Earth for several year without cleaning the windshield.

But I think the purpose of NASA exploration should be to be to determine, how viable humans settlement would be on Mars. NASA silly purpose is to find life on Mars. And some people imagine that we know that human settlements of on Mars are viable idea. And it’s not clear to me if this actually the case.
A key aspect related to whether Mars could viable for Human settlement, is related to mineability of Mars water. If locations with water as mineable as what currently being “mined” in Sahara Desert, “The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) is the world’s largest known fossil water aquifer system. It is located underground in the Eastern end of the Sahara Desert” -wiki
Then something like that is one thing needed for Human Settlements on Mars.
Also various effects 1/3 of earth gravity would important aspect.
But I would think determining whether one can do anything to reduce global dust storms could also be important.

July 3, 2020 1:10 pm

Even ten minutes of it is a MUST watch.

Jon Ranes
July 3, 2020 1:15 pm

It’s encouraging that people can remember they have a brain and dare to use it.

Reply to  Jon Ranes
July 3, 2020 1:23 pm

Devout environmentalists dissing solar/wind — these are the new woke folk.

To all of them, I say, “Welcome to reality.”

Reply to  Jon Ranes
July 4, 2020 12:34 am

It’s a bit late, isn’t it? Hundreds of millions of lives and trillions of dollars of scarce global resources have been squandered on these climate and energy falsehoods. We KNEW all this decades ago.

In 2002 Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U and Allan MacRae TOLD YOU SO 18 YEARS AGO:

1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”. https://quillette.com/2020/06/30/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/

2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”.

July 4, 2020 3:42 am

Published by APEGA in the PEGG, reprinted by other professional journals, The Globe and Mail and La Presse,
by Sallie Baliunas, Tim Patterson and Allan MacRae, November 2002

July 4, 2020 4:40 am

It’s a new day and time for me to view recent events in a positive light:

Regarding Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 condemnation of the false climate scare and Michael Moore’s 2020 film slagging green energy schemes based on intermittency and diffusivity, I say “better late than never”. The irony is that “the Michaels”, who were wrong for decades, have more credibility with their recent conversions than those of us who were never deceived by the leftists’ climate-and-energy scams.

The Michaels are now under attack by their former green comrades, who want to preserve their false climate and green-energy scams that have so effectively deceived the pubic and our politicians and squandered trillions of dollars. The Michaels both deserve kudos for having the courage to tell the truth, especially considering how radically they have changed direction from their former positions. They both deserve our scientific and moral support.

The leftists have already started their counterattack – censoring Shellenberger’s article in Forbes magazine and attempting to block Moore’s film on YouTube.

June 30, 2020, by Michael Shellenberger

Michael Moore Presents: “PLANET OF THE HUMANS”
Apr 21, 2020

July 4, 2020 6:20 am

Shellenberger claimed on social media he had been censored and told rightwing site the Daily Wire he was grateful Forbes was committed to publishing viewpoints that “challenge the conventional wisdom, and thus was disappointed my editors removed my piece from the web”.

Forbes told Guardian Australia the article was removed “because it violated our editorial guidelines around self-promotion”.

It was a simple advert for his book.
It worked!
It is a load of tosh!

Tiger Bee Fly
Reply to  Ghalfrunt.
July 4, 2020 9:34 am

And you’re a drooling idiot from Hell!

Oh, and a half-runt. Maybe you should try lifts in your shoes, you might develop a social life.

Naah, just kidding! How can you meet people in your mum’s basement, Runty No-Mates?

Reply to  Jon Ranes
July 4, 2020 12:10 pm

SHELLENBERGER is still a fool.

He still believes a climate crisis is in progress and a huge, expensive response is necessary to save the planet.

In reality, Earth’s climate has been improving for over 300 years and has not been better than today since the Little Ice Age.

Warming trends support more life and have never been bad news for our planet.

The planet’s temperature is more moderate than a few hundred years ago and the planet is greening too.

We should be celebrating.

After the Holocene interglacial ends, people will look back at today and call 2020 the good old days !

July 3, 2020 1:21 pm

I understand from a previous WUWT posting that Michael Shellenberger apologized “on behalf of environmentalists.”

Now maybe I don’t understand his position. But it seems to me that before you become a big shot in the global warming movement and that before you speak on behalf of God and Mother Earth and little puppies everywhere, that you have some kind of moral obligation to fully investigate the issue first. After being a leader in a mass hysteria that has spent trillions of dollars, scared the simple minded silly for thirty years, and launched whole industries, I’m afraid a simple “whoopsie” just doesn’t quite cut it. I’m all for forgiveness. But lets see some sack cloth and ashes, and like maybe a real honest effort to educate the public that they’ve been deceived.

And he can’t apologize on behalf of other people. Anymore than goofy white suburban college children can apologize for stuff that happened 200 years before they were even born.

Reply to  Marty
July 3, 2020 1:25 pm

Well, yeah, that’s an excellent point, Marty.

But … baby steps. (^_^)

Reply to  Marty
July 3, 2020 2:13 pm

Oh good grief, cut him some slack. He is making an effort to educate the public. Have you ever made a paradigm shift of that magnitude?

John in Oz
Reply to  icisil
July 3, 2020 3:45 pm

Should he not have educated himself before educating the public?

He is now against the size of solar farms and the land required for renewables but this has been obvious and common knowledge well before now.

After helping create the problem that renewables have caused, he now wants to be the Messiah that will fix it.

Roger Knights
Reply to  John in Oz
July 3, 2020 10:44 pm

“He is now against the size of solar farms and the land required for renewables but this has been obvious and common knowledge well before now.”

From listening to the broadcast I’ve learned that he has been trying to promote nuclear power for many years, both privately and in published works, and has had a hand in keeping some nuclear plants in operation. Also, that he’s been trying to nudge other environmental bigshots in a more moderate direction for years.

Reply to  Marty
July 3, 2020 2:13 pm

Good points Marty, nobody can apologize for the actions of others.

I’m about half way into it and I’m disappointed by what I just heard. While he’s denounced the fear mongering, he still thinks our putting CO2 into the air could cause dangerous global warming. He’s only halfway to enlightenment.

Reply to  Art
July 3, 2020 2:58 pm

He thinks CO2 it will cause some warming, so the average global temperature will stabilize about one degree below the optimum temperature.

Schellenberger also thinks his book will defeat radical environmentalism. Maybe it will but it won’t defeat the cause of radical environmentalism, which is that some people pretend like there is a huge problem in the world and that only they have the answers, so you should just shut up and let them run your life.

Radical environmentalism was never anything more than a tool of the radical left. Just like “racism” has become today. There have never been more mixed race-couples in America than there are today (approaching 20%), and the proportion of black police officers in nearly every US city is greater than the proportion of black people in the same cities, and we just had a black president … etc. America has never been us non-racist as it is today, but that didn’t stop the radical left from fomenting deadly riots to protest the status quo. Yet, if the the status quo continues, there won’t be many non-mixed people in America in a hundred years.

The haters on the radical left will use any tool at their disposal to try to rip down civilization and human accomplishment. They are sick people, bent on destruction, and a book won’t cure them.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Thomas
July 3, 2020 6:58 pm

There’s still a great deal of racism out there. Is it “better” than it was 50 years ago. Sure, I suppose, but it’s still there. I’ve worked with people in recent years that are not so veiled about it.

Reply to  Thomas
July 4, 2020 4:16 am

I fear he is a little optimistic that one apostate can cause a world religion to “cave in” . It may be a crack in the wall, no more.

I fear that he still carries the same evangelical zealotism but is now directing it differently.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Art
July 3, 2020 3:24 pm

For heaven’s sake folks, it’s just a title intended to stimulate enough interest to get people to read the article. I’m sure Shellenberger doesn’t think the alarmists will consider him their spokesman. In fact, generating an irate reaction from them (see M. Mann, et. al.) will almost certainly improve his book sales. He is quite apparently not stupid.

Laws of Nature
Reply to  Marty
July 3, 2020 2:50 pm

that is exactly what I criticized in his earlier booksale post here on WUWT (not made by him).
But listening to him, he seems credible, that he wont stop at a “whoospie” but relentlessly trying to correct misinformation in climate science (and maybe getting rich with book sales, if he is serious and honest, I say better him than all the others in this field..)


Reply to  Marty
July 3, 2020 3:13 pm

“And he can’t apologize on behalf of other people. Anymore than goofy white suburban college children can apologize for stuff that happened 200 years before they were even born.”
Strictly speaking, apologize on behalf of other people, is problematic.
But there can number of ways, he could actually be apologizing on behalf of other people.
And suburban college children can apologize for stuff that happened 200 years, if were to understand history. The problem is these suburban college children don’t have clue about history.
The chance of any of them being directly involved is unlikely, though if their families have been “lifelong dems”, probably better chance they have history of KKK involvement. And not sure NYT has apologized for involvement with Nazis and supporting all the other totalitarian regimes. It would refreshing for them to do that not once, but every few months for the rest of there existence.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  gbaikie
July 3, 2020 6:33 pm

Not wishing to change the subject, back in 2007 the NYT did issue a note on their infamous Moscow correspondent and Stalin apologist Walter (“to put it brutally – you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs”) Duranty however apparently it was disappeared in 2013.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
July 4, 2020 4:11 am

The NYT is even more partisan and dishonest today than it was in Duranty’s time.

Phil Salmon
July 3, 2020 1:27 pm

Michael Schellenberger is the best hope for a rational and sane way out of the mess the eco-extremists have created. Or would be. Sadly I fear that he’s about to be destroyed.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
July 3, 2020 3:12 pm

Some people aren’t that easy to take down. When Jordan Peterson came out about compelled speech (ie. made up gender pronouns), ‘they’ went for the throat and tried to get him fired from UofT. It didn’t work. After Twelve Rules came out, he began to look unassailable.

I’m guessing that Apocalypse Never won’t get the kind of sales generated by Twelve Rules, but it’s off to a very good start. If enough people read the book and demand answers from the alarmists, they won’t be able to slough off the questions. Once that happens, they’re cooked. Facts don’t matter until they do. That time could be coming.

Carl Friis-Hansen
July 3, 2020 2:04 pm

When will Mr. Shellenberger’s book be used in Climate classes in public schools?

No, don’t answer that, the pope has to be convinced first.
As Shellenberger states, Climate Science is no longer science, but a religion.

CD in Wisconsin
July 3, 2020 2:10 pm

I only watch for first 15 minutes of this video so far. What did not seem to come out in that 15 minutes is what I call two types of environmentalism: a religious, emotional and spiritual one and a scientific one based on facts, data, logic and reasoning.

Schellenberger appears to have migrated somewhat (if not fully) from the religious environmentalism to the more scientific one. Energy density is (in my mind) one of the keys to understanding why wind and solar don’t work so well, and Schellenberger talked about that. So he appears to understand the problem with the eco-religious environmentalist mindset which precludes them from understanding why wind and solar can’t displace fossil fuels on any meaningful level without a massive (and irrational) investment in money, land and other resources. Wind and solar are the Holy Bible of emotional and spiritual religious environmentalism, and attempting to apply science and reasoning to them is heresy. Govt force has to be used to shove wind and solar down our throats.

Schellenberger’s support of nuclear power is also commendable in my mind…he gets it that it is the only technology now that can meaningfully displace fossil fuels for electricity generation. Fear and ignorance of nuclear power are not a replacement for science, engineering and technology–something the religious eco-left cannot bring itself to come to grips with. I realize that there are no guarantees regarding 4th gen nuclear technologies, but I hope that Schellenberger joins me in keeping my fingers crossed for them as the R&D on them continues.

It is refreshing to see someone like Schellenberger make the conversion from religious environmentalism regardless of his position on climate change. I guess wisdom does indeed come with age.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
July 3, 2020 2:20 pm

Shellenberger is actually largely against 4th gen nuclear. IMO he’s a shill for the pressure water reactor status quo. Scott Adams’ did a very good interview with him that exposed that.

Laws of Nature
July 3, 2020 2:13 pm

Hi Micheal Shellenberger,

I just watched the podcast and spoke out against you in the last WUWT entry about your book. I still think that you had personal financial gain spreading alarmism, but you seem honest, credible and do your research.

I found it rather late, but I think the work of McShane and Wyner (the original paper, the debate and their rejoinder, all form 2010/11) is a very interesting read about how much do we know about our past.
Particularly in context to for example Kaufman´s article from this week basically ignoring the rigorous critique on proxi based temperature reconstructions
I would like to urge to to read, research and talk about it, it was a real eye opener for me.. and would love to see it gaining more attention. (I dont mean to belittle the work of others like McIntyre, but McS and Wy really sum it up in a unique and precise way)

Keep up the good work,

July 3, 2020 2:14 pm

Conservation, rational, and practical. Welcome back, Schellenberger . However, it’s too late to rehabilitate “environmentalism”, which is no longer a viable philosophy and practice, if it ever was.

Laws of Nature
July 3, 2020 2:18 pm

P.S.: You did get the nuclear waste very wrong it is a slurry and does leak
(just the first google hit for “hanford leaks”)

Reply to  Laws of Nature
July 3, 2020 5:50 pm

The Hanford reservation is a special case with lots of tanks that have who-knows-what in them from the nuclear weapons program during and right after WW2. Hanford should never be raised as a basis for comparison with civilian nuclear programs and the resulting waste.

The vast majority of nuclear waste, by volume, is low level waste in the form of used and potentially contaminated personal protective equipment; this stuff is basically land filled. Spent fuel is mostly the fuel assemblies with a tiny fraction of “high level waste”, or fission fragments. If we reprocess the spent fuel, like the French do, we can reduce the volume of that waste by several orders of magnitude, and the resulting high level waste can be verified (turned into glass) so it does not leak and will, in any event, decay away to background in a matter of centuries.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Kemaris
July 4, 2020 11:52 am

Vitrified, not verified

July 3, 2020 2:26 pm

Kudos to Michael Schellenberger. If you read the comments section to his article:


You can see how visciously he is being attacked by the Enviromarxists and greentards. Their worst nightmare is a constructive dialogue on climate change.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 4, 2020 6:56 am

Thanks for the link Dave.

I hadn’t seen the updated blog post.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 4, 2020 10:09 am

“Their worst nightmare is a constructive dialogue on climate change.”

Now more than ever, there is a need to prioritize government spending and energy costs to ratepayers. Wasting money on subsidizing large scale renewables and continuing long term contracts, makes no sense to anyone who can think clearly.
A constructive dialogue would threaten those who are financially benefitting from alarmism and these ill conceived mitigation efforts.

Lee L
July 3, 2020 3:09 pm

I do wish ‘The Donald’ guy in the video would learn how to say N-U-C-L-E-A-R.

NEEEY=OOO==CLEEE==AR or NOOOO=CLEE=AR . Either one works.


Nobody’s going to believe anything you say about the word if you haven’t bothered to learn the word itself.
Next up … Aluminum…

Reply to  Lee L
July 3, 2020 3:35 pm

How about W? Nuclear is one of his better words.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Scissor
July 4, 2020 1:51 pm

I looked it up in the Bush Lieberry, an it turns out that Nukeular is the official Texan Pronunciation. It’s never a good strategery to misunderestimate W.

Rud Istvan
July 3, 2020 3:10 pm

As pointed out several times before, and at length in footnoted essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke, more nuclear lies in the future NOT the present as Shellenberg advocates. AFTER we have sorted out then built a few prototype scale 4 Gen systems to get best bang for buck.

Meanwhile (next forty years) the proven go to solution most places is CCGT fueled by abundant (thanks fracking) natural gas. Lower cost and time to build, higher operating efficiency (both compared to coal), and at current LNG prices also much lower operating cost. Compared to supercritical (HELE) coal, about 60% fewer CO2 emissions if anyone thinks that important, like he does.

More Gen 3 nuclear now is financially ruinous, as Duke Power, the UK, and France are discovering.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 3, 2020 5:23 pm

The fact that one day we will begin to draw fossil fuel resources down and will have to go somewhere and nuclear is the obvious choice, is a point not made enough in ‘this or that’ discussions on energy.

Research at Oak Ridge and Chalk River Ontario in the 1950s demonstrated the Thorium reactor, which will also burn conventional nuclear waste. In 1967, the Atomic Energy Commission ordered research stopped because the Pentagon wanted Plutonium production

Anyway, you are right Rud, that NG, abundant and cheap, should be the go to for now while the best nuclear option is developed.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 4, 2020 11:04 am

I was heartened by watching this interview, but with caveats. I was delighted to hear that his opinion and criticism, though brief, almost exactly matched my own criticisms. On to the caveats.

Shellenberger has a huge degree of hubris in thinking that HIS book, HIS efforts will be the lynchpin of destroying climate alarm. He should watch the Terry Gilliam film “Brazil” or (re)read Orwell’s 1984, and be careful not to spike the football before he’s in the end zone. A huge part of the modern environmental movement is due to political power, economic and financial incentives, and NOT due to people’s tacit religious beliefs. Is his book going to chastise public sector employees? Will teacher’s unions stop frightening their school children, or stop using them as pawns when new contract negotiations are taking place? What will the realist’s of the climate movement do or say to persuade in those situations? Will Congress critters in the US and politicians in the West, vote to exit and defund and tear down the UNFCCC (and IPCC)? Will the bureaucratic elements of bloated national governments that are in bed with NGOs just give up and concede their mistakes? What will his book say that can persuade on those subjects? It’s a very important part of this equation and he’s apparently underestimating that, or not thinking about those issues at all. I wish him well in his new Crusade, I hope he has some success, but I hope he realizes that he’s in a shades-of-gray ultra marathon, not a black and white sprint.

I thought of a parallel journalist person who recently wrote a very powerful and persuasive book, with whom I almost totally agree on many ideological issues, Johah Goldberg. Goldberg ,when he starts to laugh about or dismiss people who talk about “deep state” conspiracies or global governments, as if no one is actually conspiring or trying to make that brave new world, he loses my respect. And I notice that his proscriptions for America have not been particularly persuasive to the whole body politic, in spite of being a respected voice of reason prior to Covid-19 and BLM.

Well, maybe if Trump wins the 2020 presidential election by 70% to 30%, I’ll start to believe that the “special interest” aspects of modern alarmism have lost their persuasive powers over the populace. It’s certain that I will be voting for Trump, in spite of the fact that I find him boorish and idiotic, over the nominee of a party that will give AOC and radical greenies their head, and loose the Green New Deal on my poor, beleaguered country.

July 3, 2020 3:48 pm

I am aware of who Michael Shellenberger is.

But, all of my family, anyone I know has never heard of Michael Shellenberger.

In fact the same could be said for WUWT.

Sadly this is going nowhere.

Unless this is on CNN, Sky, BBC, ABC etc then it will wither on the vine.

I don’t remember Planet of the Humans being aired, either.

Chris Hanley
July 3, 2020 4:42 pm

Thanks for the video with Michael Shellenberger who was articulate and informative, now I’ll get his book.
His point about the conflation of normal weather events like hurricanes and the risks to life and property was particularly good I thought.
Also the point by one of the panel, that it is his background that makes his contribution particularly significant.

Gary Pearse
July 3, 2020 5:01 pm

One Schellenberger has more impact than thousands of well spoken, scientifically literate sceptics (although sceptics did turn his attention to the facts on energy density, and the lack of trends in weather disasters). Ditto Michael Moore, even though there are a number of things to criticize about Planet of the Humans.

Schellenberger also touched on the point of the psychological make-up of most in this meme and why physics and math isn’t effective in changing minds. The recent shrillness and exaggeration from climate activist scientists, sociological participants and climate politicians is not to subtle a sign that they are coping with growing doubts and fears that the game will soon be over.

I’m relieved to see that there are people on the left that are finally coming out on this, concerned about the immorality of scaring and lying to children and adults, unequipped to research all this for themselves and prepared to destroy the world economy in their own selfishness. I used believe that sensible folk on the left would join the fight but eventually came to think they were of a piece. This raises my spirits more than anything in this issue.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 3, 2020 5:57 pm

“The recent shrillness and exaggeration from climate activist scientists, sociological participants and climate politicians is not to subtle a sign that they are coping with growing doubts and fears that the game will soon be over.”

It’ll be on every news channel tonight and the game will be up. I cannot wait!

Meanwhile, the US government plays down the number of Martians landing on our planet.

“This is a Venusian plot.”, says President Leonardo DiCaprio, “It’s all in my latest book, “Cosmic rays ate my Buick”.” (Sorry TD)

Ian Coleman
July 3, 2020 8:32 pm

No one on this Earth has the right to apologize for anyone else. Your sins are your own, and only you have the right to apologize for them. Only the people you have sinned against have the right to accept your apology.

Mr. Shellenberger is seeking absolution, but he is also selling a book. Why let remorse going unmonetized, right?

Ian Coleman
July 3, 2020 9:19 pm

Okay, I watched the video, and now I wish I hadn’t been so hard on Mr. Shellenberger, because he radiates personal integrity. A very likeable guy, in fact. Plus he has a lot to say about the nature of apocalyptic environmentalists, such as they tend to depression.

Roger Knights
July 3, 2020 9:38 pm

“Nuclear power offers an abundant supply of low-carbon energy. But what to do with the deadly radioactive waste?
The race is on to develop new strategies for permanently storing some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.
Ensia Aug 16, 2019 · 11 min read
Originally published at ensia.com on July 31, 2019.

Skip forward to Cameron, Texas, on January 16, 2019. This was a nerve-wracking day for Liz Muller, co-founder of California startup technology company Deep Isolation and her father, Richard Muller, professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and now chief technology officer at Deep Isolation.

The father-daughter team had invited 40 nuclear scientists, U.S. Department of Energy officials, oil and gas professionals, and environmentalists to witness the first-ever attempt to test whether the latest oil-fracking technology could be used to permanently dispose of the most dangerous nuclear waste.

At 11:30 a.m., the crew of oil workers used a wire cable to lower a 30-inch (80-centimeter)-long, 8-inch (20-centimeter)-wide 140-pound (64-kilogram) canister — filled with steel rather than radioactive waste — down a previously drilled borehole. Then, using a tool called a “tractor” invented by the industry to reach horizontally into mile-deep oil reservoirs, they pushed it 400 feet (120 meters) farther away from the borehole through the rock.

Five hours later, the crew used the tractor to relocate and collect the canister, attach it to the cable and pull it back to the surface — to the cheers of the workers. Until then, few people in the nuclear industry believed this could be done.

By avoiding the need to excavate large, expensive tunnels to store waste below ground, the Deep Isolation team believes it has found a solution to one of the world’s most intractable environmental problems — how to permanently dispose of and potentially retrieve the hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste presently being stored at nuclear power plants and research and military stations around the world.

“We showed it could be done,” Elizabeth Muller says. “Horizontal, directional drilling has come a long way recently. This is now an off-the-shelf technology. Using larger canisters, we think about 300 boreholes with tunnels up to 2 miles (3 kilometers) long would be able to take much of the U.S.’s high-level nuclear waste. We think we can reduce by two-thirds the cost of permanent storage.”

“We are using a technique that’s been made cheap over the last 20 years,” says Richard Muller, who has worked in the shale gas industry. “We realized we could put together the oil and nuclear technologies. One offered the solution to the other. These capsules can be lowered deep down, far deeper than anyone has proposed, and stored underneath a billion tons of rock so none of the radiation gets out.” ”

[read more at: https://medium.com/ensia/nuclear-power-offers-an-abundant-supply-of-low-carbon-energy-5bfe066e7568 ]

July 3, 2020 10:23 pm

Shellenberger has never hidden his nuclear advocacy over wind and solar etc, for which I’ve long been grateful, even tho I’m not an advocate of nuclear. coal is king…plus gas, hydro.

am very happy to see him further evolving his ideas, and hope he eventually lets go of the CO2 as villain altogether.

thanks to him for being another brave CAGW soul in the meantime.

July 3, 2020 10:39 pm

A very good summary of our situation Michael – Thank you – I am off to buy your book now. In the meantime consider this quote from last week’s Spectator magazine:


Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, suggested that Britain ‘is no longer a wet and rainy country’ due to climate change. Is the country really getting drier? Average annual rainfall in mm:

England / UK
1961-90 828 / 1,101
1971-2000 839 / 1,126
1981-2010 855 / 1,154
Source: Met Office

From The Spectator, 27th June 2020.

How can the CEO of an Environment Agency be so wrong – is he lying???

Reply to  Stuart Huggett
July 4, 2020 2:19 am

Just incompetant.

July 3, 2020 10:45 pm

The blight factor of low-density energy production/conversion is one visibly reproducible constraint with respect to ecologically tolerant development.

Patrick MJD
July 3, 2020 11:30 pm

He is being completely ignored in the MSM here in Australia. Thank crunchie for WUWT.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
July 4, 2020 2:00 am

Australian media pretends there are no sceptic/alternative views to alarmist ones.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
July 4, 2020 5:58 am

Same in the UK. As usual.

July 4, 2020 12:38 am

Chernobyl shows how safe nuclear is. Even when a massive disaster occurs, the actual impact of radiation is very small. 50 or so died immediately, a few hundred kids had birth defects.

Poorly tested medicines have caused much more damage. A weekend of heavy drinking in a city causes moire deaths.

Nuclear is safe, radiation is not a problem.

Bruce Cobb
July 4, 2020 3:56 am

So far, I hear him talk about the energy density and environmental problems with wind and solar, but there is another huge problem he seems to have missed: that of the disruption to the grid it causes due to it being unreliable and intermittent. They require huge amounts of backup power sources able to step in rapidly, when it is obvious to anyone with half a brain that it would be much more economical and rational to simply use those backup sources to begin with, instead of the “green” energy.

July 4, 2020 5:32 am

Schellenberger doesn’t see the whole picture. There are true believers (Schellenberger’s New Religion adherents in his book) in the Climate Crisis and Renewables, but the political power behind the movement doesn’t give a damn about the environment. That’s why it’s ok to take out the endangered Raptors and Bats with wind Turbines. They just in enter and use the Climate as a Trojan Horse to gain power. “They” are Globalist Socialists. “They” lie through the Press that they control. They lie about everything. “THEY” also have a lot of $$ invested in this fraud. And they use the government to gain $Billions in subsidies to carry out their plans….so we taxpayers get to pay them to destroy our country. “They” are a vile evil.

Rich Davis
Reply to  DocSiders
July 4, 2020 3:44 pm

I don’t doubt that there are plenty of politicians who are using The Scam of Scams. I only disagree maybe on how organized, how ideological, and how uniform the motives. To claim some massive conspiracy by global socialists doesn’t strike me as realistic.

It seems to me that the politicians who are most involved would be better described as statist/fascists or just gangsters. They are not all that interested in global socialism. They just want a way to stay in power where they can continue to skim wealth off the top.

Setting up massive subsidy schemes working together with big business interests and NGOs in the donation collection business, they build a money-votes engine. The crony capitalists make money selling useless junk to the government and/or selling their products and services to those who are mandated by government to buy the subsidized products. The politicians get paid indirectly by donations from the subsidy recipients and political support from the NGOs and their membership.

On the face of it, these are legalized bribes and are all out in the open. Everybody acts on their own selfish interests so it isn’t necessary to hold big meetings to collude and conspire. Crony capitalists lobby lawmakers and bureaucrats for schemes that benefit themselves. Lawmakers seem to agree to meetings for some reason only with people who made campaign contributions.

The only people who actually give a rat’s tail about the environment or “saving the planet“ are the useful idiots sucked in by the NGO alarmism business. Everybody in the money-votes loop is well aware that it’s a scam that they’re milking, or at least knows that they are benefiting far in excess to any supposed benefit to the environment.

Actually implementing global socialism would be risky for the politicians who might lose power and to the crony capitalists who could lose control of the means of production. They are more like an organized crime gang protecting their racket than anything.

This is not to discount the fact that some of the NGOs may well be motivated by the desire to destroy capitalism. UN types are in that category for the most part.

Then there are the professional alarmist-scientists. They advance their careers by generating evidence that supports the need for the schemes that the politicians and crony capitalists are pursuing. Even if they would rather just do straight science, they like to eat and pay their mortgage.

That’s how we have tens of thousands of people acting in a coordinated way without having any overarching formal conspiracy. It’s also how we have people with vastly different motives cooperating toward the same goals.

Bruce Cobb
July 4, 2020 6:15 am

There is certainly much to commend about Shellenberger’s apparent sea change in attitude towards his fellow travelers, and they will certainly pour their vile hatred towards him for his apostasy. He does say that “this is just the beginning”, and I certainly hope that that is the case, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I think his love of nuclear is somewhat misplaced and overblown, because he thinks it is some miraculous “answer” to a “problem” we have. I suspect, for example, that he is adamantly anti-coal, even though coal is something we have in abundance, and is relatively cheap. He probably thinks it’s “dirty” or some such nonsense. It can be, but so can wood. In fact, I’d argue that biofuels are considerably more “dirty” and environmentally unfriendly than coal.
I don’t think he has at all delved at all into the Skeptic/Climate Realist Movement, which is driven primarily by a love of truth and of actual (not fake) science, and not so much politics, which he seems to believe.
So, he has a long way to go, and I hope he doesn’t think that he can just rest on his laurels no.

Tom Kennedy
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 4, 2020 6:48 am

If you read the book you’ll find he IS Not “adamantly anti-coal”

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Tom Kennedy
July 4, 2020 7:37 am

Ok, good to know. That at least takes him out of the James Hansen camp.

Tom Kennedy
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 4, 2020 8:37 am

You need to read the book.

July 4, 2020 6:21 am

I’m sure a lot of WUWT regulars are thinking – “I already know everything in Shellenberger’s book” – at least that’s what I thought. I got the book on kindle and read most of it on a long airplane flight. I learned a lot. The book is very comprehensive and well laid out.
Shellenberger may have written something on the scale of Luther and his” 95 theses”. There is something about a “messenger” from the inside writing a theses that upsets the current dogma. Luther was a Catholic priest and wrote how “selling indulgences was corrupt”. Shellenberger is/was a man of the left/environmentalist and explains in detail the corruption in environmentalism , from the lies about nuclear to the nonsense about renewables being the future of energy.

John Hadley
July 4, 2020 7:23 am

He still keeps using the phrase ‘how to tackle climate change’ and he’s not referring to natural climate change, which can only be addressed by adaptation, but so called ‘man made climate change’. He still obviously believes that CO2 drives the climate so work in progress.

Climate believer
July 4, 2020 8:40 am

Isn’t this really just another storm in a teacup. I mean, I wish our Chavez loving Shellenberger all the best, but this is hardly a revolutionary turn around on his part.

Way back in 2004, he wrote an essay with his buddy Nordhaus, entitled: “The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World” the paper argues that environmentalism is conceptually and institutionally incapable of dealing with climate change and should “die” so that a new politics can be born.

Later in 2007, again with Nordhaus, he published “Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility”, again calling for “post-environmental” politics that abandons the environmentalist focus on nature protection for a new focus on technological innovation to create a new economy.

….and then in April 2015, he was part of a group of 18 self-described eco-modernists who collectively published “An Eco-modernist Manifesto”, in which they argue that economic development is, in fact, an indispensable precondition to preserving the environment.

I think he knew that his “apology” was going to create headlines, and, call me cynical………..book sales, but it’s hardly Mann repenting for his hockey stick.

Also, apart from the hardcore circle of people who follow these issues, he’s hardly a well known figure to your average Joe.

In our social media mad world he’s only got 80k twitter followers, that’s in the same ballpark as someone like Patrick Moore (107k), greenpeace co founder, who I admire greatly.

Compare that to Greta the Great with over 4 million, and a group like Extinction Rebellion with 355k, he’s got his work cut out.

Andrew Dickens
July 4, 2020 5:04 pm

It would be nice to think that Shellenberger’s book, following Planet of the Humans, would be a game-changer. It may have some effect in the USA, where a debate on climate seems to be possible. But in the UK, and in Europe, no debate is allowed. I don’t suppose this book will be mentioned by any of the British or European broadcasters. Minds are closed over this side of the Atlantic.

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