Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The British Financial Times, like most British mainstream media, normally takes a radical green pro climate action stance. So it is a pleasant change to see the FT arguing against accepting every wild climate claim at face value.
Are cooler heads needed on climate change?
Two controversial authors take aim at the scare stories — and puncture a few myths on the way.
Jonathan Ford YESTERDAY
There was a time not long ago when one of the visual metaphors of choice for our planet’s sombre future was a sad looking polar bear standing on a fast-diminishing ice floe. As carbon emissions belched into the atmosphere, rising temperatures were devouring the bears’ icy habitat and threatening their starvation.
Yet there was something wrong with this picture. There was no real evidence that polar bear numbers were collapsing. According to estimates compiled by the Polar Bear Specialist Group, part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, bear numbers have actually been going up — from roughly 15,000 in 1970 to about 26,500 today.
It’s a fallacy explored by Bjorn Lomborg in his book, False Alarm. The main threat to polar bears was not changing climate, he claims, but (now curbed) wild hunting. “If we want to protect [polar bears], rather than dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions to try to tweak temperatures over many decades with a clearly uncertain impact . . . our first step should be to stop shooting them,” he writes.
Lomborg’s is one of two books that set out to challenge what one might call “climate miserabilism”. The other is Apocalypse Never by Michael Shellenberger, an American environmentalist turned pro-nuclear campaigner. They explore the way in which climate policy is increasingly shaped by emotive, alarmist and sometimes misleading messages.
Many will take issue with some of the detailed arguments. Is the Paris agreement really as expensive as Lomborg says? Are extreme weather events really the phantoms that both authors claim?
But these books provide a corrective to many of the green assumptions that dominate the media. And if they make the world a little more questioning of the next polar bear story, that is no bad thing.Read more: https://www.ft.com/content/93d6353c-9ab1-4bd9-86bb-7d77aab44dde
I don’t want to get too excited. Even The Guardian occasionally publishes stories which contradict their usual green narratives. But just maybe FT is starting to notice that some of their audience is getting fed up with reading a constant stream of tired green negativity, day after day.