Why everything they say about the environment is wrong
- Climate's not most important env. problem
- No sixth mass extinction
- Growth mostly good for people & nature
- Alarmism hurts kids, poor nations & nature
Please retweet to get the facts out!
Last year, @GretaThunberg & others wrongly claimed we are in "mass extinction" while @AOC claimed "world is gonna end in 12 years"
"I want you to panic," said @GretaThunberg
Today 1 in 5 UK children report nightmares
Eco-anxiety rising around the world
Panic causing real harm
- People living in extreme poverty fell from 44% to 10% since 1981
- Malnutrition declined from 20% to 11% since 1990
- Life expectancy increased 40 years thanks to industrialization
- Poor nations will also achieve prosperity, if we let them
- Thanks to tech changes including switch to nat. gas, cleaner cars, cleaner-burning coal, etc, US & other nations saw massive declines in air pollution
- Natural gas fracking reduced "mountaintop removal" coal mining by 62% from 2008 to 2014
There are real and serious environmental problems that we should pay more attention to:
- Number of wild animals in the world has declined by half since 1970
- The largest declines occurred in developing nations, pointing to real world trade-offs that we should be sensitive to
But we are *not* causing a "sixth mass extinction"
- 0.8% of 112,432 species have gone extinct since 1500
- 73% of species are *not* threatened
- Biodiversity of islands — ecological hotspots — has *doubled*
- "Mass extinction" claims based on grossly flawed model
- There is no evidence that the number of polar bears is declining
- 2x more polar bears were killed by hunting btwn 1963 and 2016 than exist in the wild
- Nat. Geo photographer apologized for making misleading claims
But isn't some amount of exaggeration justified?
Here's what a leading conservation scientist says:
"If it's actually true that we're in a sixth mass extinction then there's no point in conservation biology"
Making people depressed hurts conservation
Inspiring people helps it
The only scenario for mass death from climate change is running out of food
But food surpluses have been growing for millennia
- Today we produce 25% more food than we need
- African farmers can increase yields 100% with irrigation, fertilizer, tractors
Climate change is NOT making natural disasters worse
- Death toll declined 90% in 100 years & 80-90% in last 40 years
- Cost of natural disasters has not risen, once you account for greater wealth — just look at Miami Beach
Sea-level rise is occurring very slowly, allowing plenty of time for adaptation
Humans have significant experience adapting to life below sea level
Netherlands became a rich nation farming as much as 7 meters below sea level
Dutch are now helping Bangladeshis adapt
European nations that condemned Brazil for deforestation themselves deforested Europe for 1,000 years, from 900 - 1900
Then, from 1900 to today, thanks to industrialized agriculture, much of Europe has reforested
Developing nations will follow the same pattern — if we let them
But isn't Brazil persecuting indigenous people?
Many people are persecuted & oppressed in Amazon — I know, I lived there — but indigenous have also been given huge reserves
A tribe of 19,000 Yanomami Indians control an area larger than the nation of Hungary (pop.: 10,000,000)
Plastic waste *is* a threat to sea life, but it's not the most important threat
E.g., fishing boats & invasives threaten albatross more
Plastic straws = 0.03% of plastic waste in ocean
Paper bags need to be reused 43x to have smaller impact on environment than plastic bags
Most plastic waste comes from poor and developing nations that can't yet afford a waste management system
Thus, if we want to reduce plastic waste in the ocean, we should help, not hinder, economic development in poor nations
We should not condemn growth as @GretaThunberg did
Plastic provided an alternative to "bio-plastics" made from sea turtle shells (e.g. "tortoise shell glasses) & elephant tusks
And we should celebrate fact that population size of sea turtles is increasing, showing "even small sea turtle populations have the capacity to recover"
We should celebrate other conservation successes made possible by economic growth:
- 25x increase in protected areas since 1962
- Use of land for farming — our largest use of nature — is near its peak & capable of declining soon
- Reforestation catching up to deforestation
- Total amount of land humans use to produce meat peaked in 2000
- Land used for livestock & pasture declined an area 80% size of Alaska
- Meat production doubled since 1960s but greenhouse gases *declined* 11%
- Modern meat production requires 20x less land
- Soil erosion in US declined 40% — in just 15 years — while yields rose
- 80% of all degraded soils are in poor and developing nations which experience soil loss at 2x rate of developed nations
- Netherlands doubled yields while *reducing* fertilizer
- "Free range" beef requires nearly 20x more land & creates 300% more emissions
- If every nation raised its agricultural productivity to the same level as its best farmers, food yields would increase 70% globally
All of these positive trends require consuming larger quantities of energy
Energy consumption allows prosperity and moving from wood and dung to fossil fuels to nuclear
I illustrate this through the three heroines of Apocalypse Never: Bernadette, Suparti, and Helen
And yet apocalyptic environmentalists & many well-meaning people today:
- promote wood fuel
- oppose hydro-electric dams for poor nations like Congo
- promote energy for charity rather than for development
But famines occur from war and political oppression not resource scarcity
As it became clear that population growth was slowing, fears of "overpopulation" & U.N. funding declined
It was then that apocalyptic Malthusians switched their focus to climate change
These are just a few of the slides that my incredible colleague @Madi_Czerwinski created
I am grateful to her, my colleagues, and our supporters, for helping create Apocalypse Never
No book on the environment has ever been praised by a larger & more prestigious group of scientists & scholars
And now, thanks to many of you, Apocalypse Never is a best-seller
I hope you read it & send copies to family & friends
You can follow @ShellenbergerMD.
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