Michael Schellenberger has written an excellent and important book, “Apocalypse Never” (2020). It’s well-researched and clear (285 pages with 105 pages of reference notes). It’s fact-based and well-intentioned.
Environmental alarmists are pushing for massive expenditures (funded by taxpayers) and a major restructure of our energy sourcing. These would increase the volatility of our economy and bring a lower standard of living. Students are regularly subjected to inaccurate teaching and activist propaganda about climate and economics, parroted by most of the media. Before we permit these progressive activists to sell their fables about a coming “green energy utopia,” everyone should read “Apocalypse Never” to get real facts and sound insights.
The book doesn’t dispute the existence of carbon emissions. But it provides facts that deflate the climate alarmists’ “global warming” and “growing extreme weather deaths” balloons. It also body slams the methods the alarmists propose for reducing carbon emissions.
If the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, meet our energy needs, and improve the environment, renewable energy sources (wind and solar) are a terrible idea. Shellenberger points out the terrible net energy ratios from renewable sources (page 191). Over their lifespan, solar facilities produce just 1.6 times the energy required to create them, wind 3.9 times. Compare this to ratios of 30 times for coal/oil/gas, 35 times for hydro power, and 75 times for nuclear power. If you want to reduce carbon emissions, build safe modern nuclear power plants.
Renewables are much less reliable, too. Renewable power comes with high pollution risk from the materials in their construction and when the spent facilities must be dismantled.
Shellenberger presents the massive land requirements, environmental destruction and visual/sound blight from renewable energy facilities. Animal and plant life is exterminated or endangered. He estimates (page 191) that it would require 25 to 50% of the land in the U.S. to meet all of our energy from renewables. Farewell to national parks and scenic vistas, hello to PPIMBY (Power-Plant-In-My Back Yard).
Shellenberger explains the need for more modern energy and modern farming methods to improve the lives of folks living in underdeveloped nations (better health, greater food supplies, and resilience to deal with weather and natural disasters). He takes on the activists who would deny better lives to these folks while living a pampered life in Europe and America (made possible by modern energy and agriculture). As a result, people in underdeveloped nations continue to use energy sources and farming methods that endanger sensitive ecosystems and produce higher carbon emissions.
Considering all this, why are people pushing this activist agenda? The book identifies several reasons. Some people and organizations are making lots of money (he names some of them). Some are doing it as a way to gain power or prestige. Greed, hypocrisy, lust and narcissism are powerful drivers.
For others, this cause has become a secular pseudo-religion, satisfying a personal need for relevance. Educational activists teach the cult’s dogma to the young. Politicians and the popular media preach to all of us. Like the Children’s Crusade of the 13th century, these acolytes are being led down the wrong path.
I agree with Schellenberger’s recommendations for (1) making smart energy choices (hydrocarbons, hydroelectric and nuclear), (2) protecting sensitive ecosystems and (3) advancing the lives of people in disadvantaged nations through the current technologies (agriculture and energy) that benefit the U.S. and Europe.
I disagree with Shellenberger on one very critical matter. Actually, the events of the Apocalypse are coming soon. The Bible (particularly the prophetic book of Revelation) describes the period leading to the End Times and the cataclysmic seven-year period called the Tribulation, in which billions of people will perish.
The book of Romans says it is sinful to worship God’s creation rather than God the Creator. Nature-worship, secular environmentalism, and secular humanism all conflict with the first two of the Ten Commandments and that is a very bad idea.
In the days prior to the Tribulation, Christians should be good stewards of the environment, good neighbors (helping needful people), and lovers of the truth (rejecting the lies told by progressives and climate activists).
My 2021 novel, The Great New Deal, uses parody to expose the foolishness and danger of climate alarmism and the green new deal. It also connects the events of today to the End Times prophecies set forth in the Bible.