“The IPCC is partly a scientific organisation, partly a political organisation”. That was what Richard Tol, a convening lead author of the 5th review of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told Michael Shellenberger when he interviewed him for his recently released book, Apocalypse Never.
In 2010, Tol was assigned to the team to draft the fifth IPCC review’s summary for policymakers, but he resigned after being frustrated in his attempts to prevent the review amounting to little more than sensationalist headline material.
The biggest revelation in this new book from environmental activist Michael Shellenberger is that the climate change issue is primarily driven by politics, when most people have been led to believe it’s the urgent matter of a warming planet.
Shellenberger, a previous Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” has spent decades living amongst poor subsistence farmers in Latin America and promoting renewable energy to Barack Obama. It was his experience with the poor that motivated him to fight for environmental justice, but it was his realisation that renewable energy was incapable of delivering for the West or the Developing World, that prompted him to question it; and to promote nuclear energy as the technology with the potential to deliver the energy needs of the future.
In a fascinating and detailed read, he uncovers a seedy world of elite business people who control the flow of money and governmental subsidies towards inefficient renewable energy technology, and away from clean alternatives such as nuclear. But worse than that, he describes an anti-humanist elite who conspire to keep the Developing World in poverty, so that they can romanticise wilderness and agrarian utopias.
These are the same people (people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Prince Harry) who lecture ordinary people about carbon footprints while they fly in private jets to environmental brainstorming junkets. Prince Harry famously took a private jet to one of these luxury environmental activist weekends in Sicily; and two more private jet flights within a few weeks of it. He interrupted his jetting to lecture the proles, in his bare feet, about not doing enough – as if that symbolic return to simplistic natural living fooled anyone.
Michael Shellenberg admits that two decades ago he had fallen for the catastrophising of climate alarmism. He says he frequently felt depressed and hopeless the more he engaged with the dire predictions of climate journalists and activists. However, the more he
investigated the issues, the more he realised that whatever challenges Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) presented, they were manageable; and they are not the biggest challenges facing mankind, or the planet.
In this book, Shellenberger takes on the big topics one by one, and exposes, what for climate alarmists, must be uncomfortable truths. Not just the hypocrisy of the alarmist elites (like Al Gore who lives in a house that consumes 12 times as much energy as a typical American home) but more importantly, a thorough exposé of the big climate and environmental issues.
He presents a much more balanced picture of the much talked of issues of species extinction; the net emissions of renewables and the environmental effects of renewable energy; plastics; the environmental impact of development; natural v synthetic materials, and many other subjects.
What readers, acclimated to the dire catastrophising of the Irish Times, the Guardian, and RTE, etc. might find very surprising, is the counterintuitive realities he presents. He argues, for example, that intensive, high density, production and land use, is the better strategy in every circumstance.
As you follow his in-depth reasoning and examples, you realise that the version you are getting of the climate challenge in the establishment media, is a lie by omission. What they are leaving out of the story, as much as how they exaggerate the conclusions of researchers, is what creates the sense of impending catastrophe that has gripped the West – especially amongst our children.
After an in-depth analysis of the mentality and philosophy of climate activism – in which you feel Shellenberger is frequently frustrated by a blindness to facts, and the dishonesty of the climate activists- the author finally contextualises the climate alarmism phenomenon as a theological struggle in an atheistic society. He sees the climate movement as a secular religion, a search for meaning in an age of nihilism.
Shellenberger is neither religious nor anti-religious, but he contrasts this new “religious death cult” with the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which he says incorporates a framework of love and redemption. The climate cult, he argues is a type of Calvinist post-modernism, which preaches a vision of wickedness and doom, which will be punished by an apocalyptic disaster.
It has its millenarians; its child prophets; its end of days prophecies; and an appeal to a mysterious sacred cast who are termed “scientists”.
“I want you to panic” says Greta Thunberg, who has admitted finding purpose in her activism. “The science is settled” say the followers of this cult, in reference to an impenetrable sacred text, which most profess they do not understand.
To get an understanding of the issue, they would be well advised to pick up this book.
Lorcán Mac Mathúna