Although only a few have ventured to face the cancel culture mob of today by expressing truth outside of the mainstream leftist consensus, environmentalist Michael Shellenberger recently chose to promote truth by exposing lies within his field of climate change research, putting his professional popularity at risk.
After a lifetime spent researching and advocating for the institution of climate change policy and fostering climate change awareness that the left supports, Shellenberger released an article Sunday titled, “On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare.” This formal apology preceded the release of his book, “Apocalypse Never,” which debunks the myths surrounding climate change that have evoked a global scare known as climate alarmism.
Shellenberger is the co-founder and president of Environmental Progress, a research and policy organization dedicated to fighting for clean power and energy justice, and he serves as an expert reviewer at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He’s considered himself an environmentalist for the past 30 years, but he only recently spoke out against the climate change alarmism.
His change in sentiment came after seeing the effects of the alarmism on the public, specifically young people. After interviewing his 14-year-old daughter and her friends, Shellenberger realized their limited scope of understanding.
With teachers who force climate change alarmism as part of curriculum and policymakers and members of the mainstream media twisting the urgency of reform for their own political agenda, children are often left feeling hopeless, anxious, and depressed. Shellenberger noted in his book that one in five British children told pollsters they have nightmares about climate change and their subsequent inevitable doom.
“Their parents aren’t in a position to be able to differentiate between what’s alarmist and what’s true. So I tried to write this in as simple language as possible so that my daughter and her friends would read it, but I also wanted to write it for parents and teachers and everybody else,” he told The Federalist. “There’s 100 pages out of the 400 pages that are just endnotes and references so people can actually check the sources themselves.”
Beyond just schools, Shellenberger said climate change alarmism is propagated by every powerful institution in America. Before climate change research is presented to the public, information is taken from scientists and filtered through policymakers and the media. The misinformation accumulates, he said.
“It’s mostly good science, but then once the politicians get involved and help to write the summary for policymakers and the press releases, it starts to get more apocalyptic. And then by the time you read The New York Times, it sounds like the world’s going to come to an end in 10 years,” he told The Federalist.
After publishing his “apology” article with Forbes, where Shellenberger has been a long-time contributor, they took it down. A spokesperson from Forbes said the piece didn’t adhere to their “strict editorial guidelines.” It has since been printed at Quillette. Although he will continue to contribute to Forbes on energy issues in the third person, Shellenberger said he is disappointed in their decision and disagrees with their censorship.
Climate change is just one manifestation of the cultural shift to the left that is universally accepted, meaning any dissenting opinions aren’t considered. Shellenberger himself was drawn in by the left’s alarmism and is now acting to ensure people have the truth to rid themselves of such impending fear.
His commitment to environmentalism speaks for itself; Shellenberger is no climate change denier. In light of his recent change in attitude, however, some woke leftists have been quick to label him one. That alone is telling, he said in the article, as to just how powerful the alarmism is.
“The real story is just that it’s not the end of the world and that it’s been used to advance a radical left agenda…I think that most people that are alarmist or apocalyptic out there in some ways are victims of this discourse. It’s like they’ve been invaded by a mental virus,” he said.
Conservatives aren’t scot-free, however. Shellenberger said the bottom line is that humans play a role in climate change, and the conservative voices denying that and refusing to accept any science regarding climate change discredit the party as a whole.
Republicans in Congress have implemented the most positive environmental policies, he said, including fracking for natural gas, using nuclear gas, using intensified agricultural techniques, and capital-intensive farming. Despite Republican legislators making positive impacts in their policy-making, certain high profile climate deniers on the right drown out any significant climate change progress brought forth by Republicans.
Shellenberger’s honesty and boldness have, so far, resonated with many. On the day of its release, “Apocalypse Never” was the third best-selling new release on Amazon and fifth best-selling book overall.
His hope is that his work can spark a renewed dedication to actual environmental change and a realistic change in perspective of environmental issues as an important issue to address rather than something damaging to the mental health of children. There are simple yet fundamental changes to focus on that have been removed from the national dialogue in place of political fear-mongering.
“The bread and butter of environmentalism, which has been laying conservation for wildlife protection, has been lost in this nutso apocalyptic alarmist discourse,” Shellenberger said. “So the tragedy is that we’re traumatizing our young people and doing things that actually make environmental problems worse.”
This may have been the first of his mainstream narrative-defying writing, but the public can expect to hear a lot more by Shellenberger as he continues to print his findings. He contributes to Quillette, which he said has always defended the free speech of its writers.
“I have a lot more to say that needs to be said.”
Allison Schuster is an intern at The Federalist and is also a rising senior at Hillsdale College working toward a degree in politics and journalism. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonShoeStor.