Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All
Climate change is real but it's not the end of the world. It is not even our most serious environmental problem.
Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world's last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today's Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions.
But in 2019, as some claimed "billions of people are going to die," contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction.
Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.
Curiously, the people who are the most alarmist about the problems also tend to oppose the obvious solutions.
What's really behind the rise of apocalyptic environmentalism? There are powerful financial interests. There are desires for status and power. But most of all there is a desire among supposedly secular people for transcendence. This spiritual impulse can be natural and healthy. But in preaching fear without love, and guilt without redemption, the new religion is failing to satisfy our deepest psychological and existential needs.
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"The painfully slow global response to human-caused climate change is usually blamed on the political right's climate change denial and love affair with fossil fuels. But in this engaging and well-researched treatise, Michael Shellenberger exposes the environmental movement's hypocrisy in painting climate change in apocalyptic terms while steadfastly working against nuclear power, the one green energy source whose implementation could feasibly avoid the worst climate risks. Disinformation from the left has replaced deception from the right as the greatest obstacle to mitigating climate change."--Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science, MIT
"In this tour de force of science journalism, Michael Shellenberger shows through interviews, personal experiences, vignettes, and case histories that environmental science offers paths away from hysteria and toward humanism. This superb book unpacks and explains the facts and forces behind deforestation, climate change, extinction, fracking, nature conservation, industrial agriculture, and other environmental challenges to make them amenable to improvements and solutions."--Mark Sagoff, author of The Economy of the Earth
"Defending science and reason against end-of-the-world sensationalism, Michael Shellenberger's is a must-read book."--Michael Lind, author of The New Class War
"Michael Shellenberger is one of our most insightful and provocative environmental thinkers. In Apocalypse Never he convincingly questions conventional wisdom and offers essential out-of-the-box thinking for a new 21st-century environmental movement. Full of personal drama and mind-bogglingly counter-intuitive information, Apocalypse Never will leave you hopeful, inspired, and eager to build a better future."--Robert Stone, Oscar-nominated filmmaker, "Chasing the Moon," "Pandora's Promise," "Radio Bikini"
"While denial and indifference surely undermine the battle against climate change, so too does misinformed panic, which serves the poorest among us worst of all. Inoculate yourself with Michael Shellenberger's timely and deeply informed Apocalypse Never."--Christopher H. Foreman, author of The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice
"Apocalypse Never will make some green progressives mad. But I see it as a useful and even necessary counterpoint to the alarmism being peddled by some activists and journalists, including me. Let the arguments begin!"--John Horgan, science journalist, Stevens Institute of Technology
"In this refreshing chronicle, Michael Shellenberger rescues environmental activism from sensationalism and partisanship. Brought to life by rich personal experience and filled with data and grounded science, Apocalypse Never is a must-read for policymakers and others searching for pragmatic solutions to our ecological future."--Samir Saran, president, Observer Research Foundation
"If you think you have all the answers about our environmental problems and the best way forward, don't read this book. But if you're open to having your beliefs challenged, this book will not disappoint. It is not always a comfortable read, but our planet's future is too important to not put our assumptions to the test."--Michelle Marvier, professor, Environmental Studies, Santa Clara University
"Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book. Within its lively pages, Michael Shellenberger ruses science and lived experience to rescue a subject drowning in misunderstanding and partisanship. His message is invigorating: if you have feared for the planet's future, take heart."--Richard Rhodes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Making of the Atomic Bomb
"We must protect the planet, but how? Some strands of the environmental movement have locked themselves into a narrative of sin and doom that is counterproductive, anti-human, and not terribly scientific. Shellenberger advocates a more constructive environmentalism that faces our wicked problems and shows what we have to do to solve them."--Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now