Environmentalism

Apocalypse Never

The book argues that rising prosperity and increasing technological prowess will ameliorate or reverse most deleterious environmental trends.

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We are frequently warned that humanity is beset by ecological catastrophes that could kill off civilization, perhaps even our species. Not so, insists environmental activist Michael Shellenberger in his new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

Shellenberger, whose activism led Time to name him a "Hero of the Environment" in 2008, argues that while significant global environmental problems exist, they don't constitute inexorable existential threats.

Shellenberger's analysis relies on largely uncontroversial mainstream science. He points out that climate change has not made natural disasters more harmful to human life and wealth, and that fires have declined 25 percent around the world since 2003. (They have become more frequent and dangerous in some specific areas in the past decade, though not to historically unprecedented levels.)

He uses data to question frightening predictions about species extinctions. Warming will affect sea levels and food production, he grants, but the problems thus caused would be manageable by an ever-wealthier human race.

Environmentalism fills a spiritual emptiness and gives meaning to many people's lives, Shellenberger suggests. "If the climate apocalypse is a kind of subconscious fantasy for people who dislike civilization, it might help explain why the people who are the most alarmist about environmental problems are also the most opposed to the technologies capable of addressing them, from fertilizer and flood control to natural gas and nuclear power."

The book is a sustained argument that poverty is humanity's most important environmental problem and that rising prosperity and increasing technological prowess will ameliorate or reverse most deleterious environmental trends.

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  1. Bailey yesterday (ignoring issues of forest management)
    The science suggests that man-made climate change is indeed making wildfires in the western U.S. worse.

    Bailey today;
    fires have declined 25 percent around the world since 2003. (They have become more frequent and dangerous in some specific areas in the past decade, though not to historically unprecedented levels.)

    Will he figure out it is forest management as the cause? Doubtful.

    1. The two statements aren’t contradictory. It indicates that the western U.S. is one of those specific areas where fires have become more frequent and dangerous in the past decade, partly due to forest mismanagement and partly due to warmer, dryer conditions.

      1. For the last century California has been unusually wet. In fact California’s climate wetness tends to oscillate every few decades.

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/12/25/wet-years-dry-years/

        The irony is most climate models predict wetter, not dryer conditions for California, so yes it does contradict baileys claim.

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          1. Your link shows it was warmer and dryer than average in the parts that are burning. What the rest of the country is doing is irrelevant.

            1. And you totally ignored that California was much drier and more fire-prone 100 years ago.

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          1. I agree forest mismanagement is a major contributor. I don’t see where Bailey has said that it is not.

            1. The unsubstantiated and subsequently contradicted statement was “The science suggests that man-made climate change is indeed making wildfires in the western U.S. worse.”

        1. California’s history prior to last century, a time of droughts. Pre carbon expansion!

          https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/science/californias-history-of-drought-repeats.html

        2. You have contradicted Bailey. He has not contradicted himself. I just don’t understand the attempt to paint him as hypocritical.

          1. See the answer just below that you agreed to.

      2. Thats the problem with climate change. It is used as a catch all for all weather events.

        1. Agreed.

      3. Wait, are you saying JesseAz mischaracterized what someone said with selective quotes to score a “burn” against them? I’m shocked.

        1. What I’m saying is blaming the fires on image change demonstrates and ignorance of science. One which you seem ready to defend.

      4. “The two statements aren’t contradictory.”

        Yes they are. If global climate change was the driver of increasing forest fires, one would expect the affect to be global, not confined to specific regions.

        1. Why would every part of the globe respond to a higher global average temperature in exactly the same way? The world isn’t homogenous. Areas near large bodies of water will see different impacts from those that are far from water, for example.

      5. “…It indicates that the western U.S. is one of those specific areas where fires have become more frequent and dangerous in the past decade, partly due to forest mismanagement and partly due to warmer, dryer conditions.”

        True, but one of those two is under our control and can deliver immediate results.
        The other has no realistic mechanism to address the issue and absolutely no possible way to affect the fires in any reasonable time span; you might just as well pray for the fires to stay away.

    2. Warren Meyer made a great comment over on coyoteblog: even if global warming is the cause of all these Western US fires (the media is now calling them climate fires), doesn’t that mean that forest management is more important than ever?
      The climate people insist that even if we drop emissions to nothing today, the temperature will keep rising for 50-100 years. So, especially if true, how does this excuse the levels of negligence seen in California forest management?

      1. even if global warming is the cause of all these Western US fires (the media is now calling them climate fires), doesn’t that mean that forest management is more important than ever?

        Why, yes. Yes it does.

        It’s almost like we’re talking about Climate Change because those in charge have no intention of changing anything about forestry management, but do want us all to buy electric cars and solar panels.

    3. Can we stop ignoring the elephant in the room here?

      CALIFORNIA’S FORESTS ARE LITERALLY DESIGNED TO BURN.

      Ok… this time for the retards in the back with the signs.

      CALIFORNIA’S FORESTS, THROUGH EVOLUTION, CANNOT REPRODUCE UNLESS THEY BURN!!!

      The more humans actively prevent fires in California, the more the fuel piles up on the forest floor. So when everything catches fire… as it’s supposed to and has done for tens of thousands of years, it now burns hotter because of human intervention.

      It has NOTHING to do with climate change and everything to do with Californian city expansion, shitty water shed management and shitty forest management.

      Much like the “Hurricane Crisis.” There’s more damage BECAUSE THERE’S MORE PEOPLE LIVING THERE.

      1. No no. White knight still thinks it is due to climate change and Bailey is right. Even thought for a global climate fires are down. A specific local fire can surely be blamed on global warming instead of being a single environmental event. Just ignore the half dozen links I posted.

    4. What part of “hey have become more frequent and dangerous in some specific areas” did you not understand?

      1. Some specific areas have shitty forest management.

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  2. Wow, do I see a sliver or reason here at Unreason? What just happened?!

    1. This has always been Bailey’s position on environmental issues and I never saw anything to indicate the rest of the Reason staff disagreed with him.

      1. Ron has previously come out in favor of a Carbon Tax to deal with climate change, which is a bit against the grain of this book.

    2. The CACLLs have to signal to each other every morning by complaining about how uniquely evil Democrats are, commiserating about being victims of the media, and putting down Reason (especially anything written by Dalmia or Bailey.)

      1. Still squawking?

  3. Hold on a second. If this is true. If! Then how are the authoritarians going to use environmental issues to stomp on our individual liberties? Answer me that!

    1. They will viciously attack anyone who doesn’t agree with their environmental manifesto, as they are Mr. Shellenberger.

      https://thefederalist.com/2020/07/29/climate-expert-mike-shellenberger-mocked-by-democrats-following-his-testimony-on-clean-energy/

    2. They’ll demand that the book be banned, saying the 1A doesn’t cover things they don’t like.

  4. The “truth” of global warming is irrelevant.
    It is being used as one excuse for a fascist power grab.
    The options are these:
    1. There is a God, and He is in control. If so, man should not interfere with His control of climate, but rather use the wisdom He gives us to adapt.
    2. There is no God; Darwin was right. If so, man should not interfere with the forces of evolution, but rather join all the other animals in adapting.
    In no case is there any path of massive government action(s) that will have a noticeable impact on the climate, just on personal freedoms.

    1. In no case is there any path of massive government action(s) that will have a noticeable impact on the climate

      And if there were, it would be a negative one.

  5. It’s ridiculous to think we can just adapt our way out of the looming apocalypse, as ridiculous as thinking we can solve our whale oil shortage by bio-engineering buttloads of whales. Human ingenuity is a finite resource and we’ve already invented everything that can be invented, there will be nothing new to save us. I mean, think about it, can you think of any practical new solution that hasn’t been invented yet?

    1. an edit button?

      1. a preview button?

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    2. Schulze-Makuch identifies a superhabitable planet as “any planet that has more biomass and biodiversity than our current Earth.” Essentially, it would be slightly older, bigger, warmer and wetter than Earth, he said.

      https://www.wbaltv.com/article/superhabitable-planets-could-be-better-for-life-than-earth/34305996#

      1. With buttloads of unobtainium.

    3. Paul Ehrlich, is that you?

    4. “…can you think of any practical new solution that hasn’t been invented yet?”

      No, because it hasn’t been invented yet [I am assuming this is parody, but it is getting SO hard to tell nowadays]

  6. In one of his weekly podcasts, Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine had a discussion with Michael Shellenberger about the new book and other things.

    https://www.skeptic.com/science-salon/michael-shellenberger-apocalypse-never-why-environmental-alarmism-hurts-us-all/

    1. Because there is no raised voices or music or sound effects, that podcast makes for perfect bedtime playing at 40% speed. And wake up smarter.

  7. “while significant global environmental problems exist, they don’t constitute inexorable existential threats.”

    Come on, Ronny. In the Twitter teen drama queen reality of the 21st century, EVERYTHING is an existential threat. Combine complete factual and historical ignorance, rejection of reasoning, and surrendering our intellects to our feelings, and we just KNOW how each and every negative triviality will wipe out humanity and explode the planet before supper time. Just like yesterday.

  8. “Environmentalism fills a spiritual emptiness and gives meaning to many people’s lives, Shellenberger suggests. ‘If the climate apocalypse is a kind of subconscious fantasy for people who dislike civilization, it might help explain why the people who are the most alarmist about environmental problems are also the most opposed to the technologies capable of addressing them, from fertilizer and flood control to natural gas and nuclear power.'”

    Not to mention “those people” primarily reside in dense urban environments where they are totally dependent upon the technology they purport to despise.

    1. The vast majority of their points of views are heavily skewed because of them living in urban areas too. They drive by the same ditches full of garbage and the same little tent cities. They take those examples and apply them to the rest of the world.

      When really, all they need to do is get out more. You can fly in a plane for thousands of miles, look down and see nothing but nature. There’s farmland that’s overgrowing in the Midwest back to forest because we’ve gotten far more efficient with single acres of farmland.

      1. Have ever argued with someone about religion?

        Nothing gets through, seen or heard.

  9. technology will help us adapt to conditions. definitely requires book.

  10. Yeah, that wealthy countries are going to be able to (at great expense) engineer themselves out of a disaster isn’t exactly breaking news at 11.

    But what happens to the countries that don’t have the capability to do so?

    Unless this guy has reason to think climate change is going to addle people’s brains and make them more philanthropic and charitable, I’m pretty sure that means big problems for countries that can’t foot the bill.

    1. “…But what happens to the countries that don’t have the capability to do so?..”

      Perhaps they’ll look around and notice there are workable alternatives?
      If not, well, not my job.

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