There is a select group of people for whom reality is too much to handle, and so they make up alternative narratives that bat away inconvenient truths. The Holocaust never happened. It was merely a guest worker full employment program for the poor in Europe. Neil Armstrong never landed on the moon. All the Apollo missions were faked on a sound stage or in the desert somewhere near Area 51 in Nevada.
Then there is the granddaddy of them all. The Earth is not round. It is as flat as Table Mountain in South Africa. Not only that, the sun revolves around the Earth, as do the billions of galaxies in the universe. A variation on this theme is the notion that the Earth is a hemisphere supported by 4 elephants standing on the back of a really large tortoise.
Climate Deniers Author Two New Books
Denying that climate change is real is a viable industry, thanks to the Koch Brothers’ funding of a bevy of crackpots and a slew of so-called “institutes” designed to spread the message that pumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere is actually good for us. It’s common knowledge that plants and trees need carbon dioxide to grow, so if there is more CO2 and methane in the atmosphere, plants, crops, and trees will grow better. It’s as plain as the face on your nose.
It’s true. There is a natural carbon cycle. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into food through photosynthesis. When they die, the carbon dioxide they take in gets released back into the environment. What could be more natural than that? The problem is, the carbon dioxide contained in oil and gas was sequestered millions of years ago. Humans have released eons worth of carbon back into the atmosphere in a very short period of time, geologically speaking.
Think of it this way. The Earth is a bathtub. Some water comes in the spigot, some water goes out though the drain. Suddenly, a company of firefighters shows up and starts adding millions of gallons of water. The tub quickly overflows, ruining the kitchen below as it flows out into the street and down the block.
First up in our review of new books by dedicated climate deniers is Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All by Michael Shellenberger. Conservative website Ricochet (why are all conservatives obsessed with bullets and guns?) calls it a “Measured look at climate alarmism.” It begins by heaping praise on the author, who is characterized as a lifelong environmentalist and progressive activist.
The reviewer says the book begins by “picking apart and demolishing the arguments of those who claim apocalyptic climate change, leading to the death of billions, lies in our near future.” The latest IPCC studies suggest no such thing. Instead, “alarmists deliberately distorted facts — sometimes even making false claims about the reports — to justify their predictions.”
One presumes this is a reference to the foofraw over e-mails between noted climate scientist Michael E. Mann and his colleagues several years ago that quickly turned into a cause célèbre and led to wide ranging attacks on all climate scientists as money grubbing entrepreneurs bent on spinning up a climate emergency to line their own pockets with fat government and private industry research grants. In fact, says Shellenberger, following the recommendations of the alarmists will lead to exactly the opposite effect — more deaths, especially among the world’s poor, and greater adverse environmental impacts.
Why do conservatives always bleat about the poor? Did the Reagan tax cuts benefit the poor? Did the trillion dollar tax cut cooked up by Senate Republicans and alleged president Trump benefit the poor? Does denying low income people access to health care, school lunches, food stamps, or child care benefit the poor? Tis a conundrum, unless you assume conservatives are lying through their teeth when they prattle on about helping lift the poor out of poverty.
Teaching the poor how to have less children would benefit them more, but conservatives must never, ever mention birth control or family planning, lest the heads of their supporters implode. In the conservative universe, we must ignore that humans possess sex organs, for imagining the use of them is too horrible to contemplate.
Shellenberger says greater industrialization and more nuclear power is what the world needs, claiming industrialization has reduced pollution, increased prosperity, and bettered living standards among even the poorest in society. The problem, Shellenberger claims, is that powerful financial interests fund the anti-nuclear, green-energy, and anti-growth agenda.
“There is a lot of money to be made through all of these initiatives. Shellenberger highlights religious aspects of environmental crusading, showing how for many of its advocates, environmental extremism displaces religion’s role,” Ricochet asserts. The poor will pay the cost of the Green New Deal, which will leave the environment worse off and lead to greater species extinction than increased industrialization would cause.
Who Is Michael Shellenberger?
Shellenberger is a co-founder of something called the Breakthrough Institute, which the Harvard University Center for Ethics says “has a clear history as a contrarian outlet for information on climate change and regularly criticizes environmental groups.” Yale Climate Connection eviscerates Shellenberger and his book by saying, “What is new in here isn’t right, and what is right isn’t new.” It goes on to say,
“But even if the author properly understood the complexity and nature of global challenges, which he does not, and got the science right, which he did not, a fatal flaw in his argument is the traditional Cornucopian oversimplification of his solutions – reliance on economic growth and silver-bullet technology.
“As the great American journalist and humorist H. L. Mencken said, “there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” Mencken also warned against those who know precisely what is right and what is wrong, a warning especially worth hearing in the highly complex and uncertain worlds of global climate, pandemics, and environmental change.”
Another new book is by the notorious climate denier Bjorn Lomborg and is called False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet. Its thesis, according to Business Standard, is “simple and simplistic: Activists have been sounding a false alarm about the dangers of climate change. If we listen to them, we will waste trillions of dollars, achieve little, and the poor will suffer the most.”
There’s that helping the poor mantra again. Conservatives love to pretend they have the interests of the poor at heart as they extract more resources, build more factories, and expand the great global economic engine ad infinitum. They reject the idea that the world has limited resources and cannot support unlimited growth forever and ever until the end of time.
While Lomborg admits climate change is real, he claims it is nothing to get excited about. There are lots of problems facing humanity and it is just one of them. If that sounds familiar, it is because Andrew Wheeler, the current head of the EPA, has uttered those precise words. The climate denial counterculture likes to recycle their talking points ad nauseum.
The Business Standard review was written by Joseph Stieglitz for the New York Times Review of Books. Stieglitz is a former chief economist of the World Bank and a fellow who knows a thing or two about policy and economics. He scorns Lomborg’s work for failing to acknowledge all the risks of a warming planet, from more powerful storms to rising sea levels, and for proposing a price on carbon that is much too low to be effective. He points out that carbon dioxide levels are now higher than ever in human history and we cannot know the ramifications of that will be. Nor will we be able to produce some “magic dust” that will allow us to science our way out of the dilemma as the planet continues to warm.
Stieglitz has especially harsh words for America’s president and his minions, who are hellbent on propping up the fossil fuel industry until the last homo sapiens expire.
“A fourth related concern is that those who don’t believe we should take forceful action today discount the value of the environmental impacts of climate change on future generations. The Trump administration, for instance, has been using a 7 per cent discount rate — which means that we shouldn’t spend more than 3 cents today to avoid a dollar of damage to our children in 50 years. This is ethically indefensible and economically nonsensical.”
Then he sets his sights on Lomborg personally in this devastating broadside:
“Anyone not familiar with the literature might think from [Lomborg’s] frequent quoting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the panel, representing the scientific consensus, is on board with his ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. In 2019 the IPCC put out a report explaining how much worse a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature would be than a 1.5 degree Celsius rise. (Full disclosure: I was a lead author of the IPCC’s Second Assessment.)
“As a matter of policy, I decline to review books that deserve to be panned. You only make enemies. In the case of this book, though, I felt compelled to forgo this policy. Written with an aim to convert anyone worried about the dangers of climate change, Mr Lomborg’s work would be downright dangerous were it to succeed in persuading anyone that there was merit in its arguments.
“This book proves the aphorism that a little knowledge is dangerous. It’s nominally about air pollution. It’s really about mind pollution.”
Wow! You go Joseph Stieglitz. That’s how to explode another pompous ass looking to make a buck from the climate denial scam.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, also lambastes Lomborg, who he says “now has a long track record of being an unreliable and inaccurate source of information about climate change. He devotes most of his writing efforts to churning out polemics for the opinion columns of newspapers which fail to fact-check his false claims,” many of which are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Facts, Not Falsehoods
So there you have it. Two new books by two authors claiming to be experts but who are really trollops for the fossil fuel industry. You can read them if you want. Our purpose here is only to inoculate you against the virus of misinformation they are spreading. We report; you retort. Have at it!