Mike Shellenberger+ Your Authors @ShellenbergerMD Author, “Apocalypse Never” : Time, “Hero of Environment” : Green Book Award Winner : President, Environmental Progress : IPCC Expert Reviewer : MD = my initials Jul. 14, 2020 6 min read + Your Authors

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

Mainstream news reporters @nytimes @cnn and other outlets falsely claimed last year that Amazon was "lungs of world"

Scientists debunked notion that Amazon supplies world with oxygen 50 years ago

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

And many green NGOs, European governments, and UN agencies including @UNDP @UNEP oppose modern agriculture and promote the continuation of inefficient farming in poor nations

Those who promote continued use of wood fuels & inefficient agriculture in poor nations are Malthusians in the long tradition of rich world elites who justify poverty & even starvation

Malthusians have long used environmental alarmism to promote policies to undermine food and energy productivity

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

Rich world development agencies used climate alarmism to divert money from agricultural modernization, contributing to the food crisis, according to a former World Bank official

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.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.

Follow Threader