The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing dangerous groups, such as ‘99% Unite’, who in a ‘post-Truth’ era claim the pandemic is a government ‘conspiracy’. They promote refusing coronavirus tests and social distancing. Such people reflect a narrow mindset demanding excessive individual freedoms without concern for fellow citizens’ health. Shouldn’t they be restrained for the common good?
Similarly, we’re bombarded by irresponsible media gain-saying threats from climate change and environmental degradation.
In Australia we’re blessed with a large area and small population, so impacts are less noticeable.
However, shouldn’t we be concerned about many vulnerable people impacted elsewhere by our extravagant lifestyles, including poor Bangladeshis and Pacific Islanders swamped by rising sea levels, and wildlife extinctions and carbon emissions from extensive forest clearing.
Murdoch media is delighted with the self-promotion of Michael Shellenberger, so-called ‘environmentalist’, who however, with his valid criticism of the few who cried ‘Wolf!’ such as US Congress-woman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” has become a hero with climate-change deniers who ignore the impelling evidence for detrimental climate change.
His public apology for a ‘Climate scare,’ and unconcern (also NewsCorp journalists) to raise ‘red herrings’ to fault momentum to take urgent action against real threats, suggests his interests lie with other than the well-being of our Earth and its communities.
This is demonstrated by his championing the following issues:
Firstly, Shellenberger claims climate change was not responsible for the recent Australian bushfire conflagration (Shellenberger, NewsCorp and Quadrant authors).
CSIRO and informed scientists agree however, that while factors, such as buildup of forest-floor trash, contributed to bushfires’ severity, climate change with a drying/heating trend related to human-induced climate change was a major acerbater of recent Australian fires and killing of three billion native animals.
Areas burnt may be less than 1974-75 bushfires but the smaller area is partly due to extensive urban expansion and deforestation for large-scale farming. Recent wildlife devastation was severe as critical habitats decrease, threatening species viability.
Secondly, humans are not causing a sixth mass wildlife extinction (Shellenberger).
Scientists do believe 20% of Earth’s species face extinction (McKie). Extinction rates from human activities are higher than non-mass extinction rates throughout Earth’s history indicating a mass extinction is occurring (Saltre).
Excessive consumption is believed to be the main cause: “Rich western countries are siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate.” (Ehrlich)
Australia has a poor extinction record with 100 vertebrate species lost since humans arrived.
Thirdly, protecting Amazonian rain-forests is less important (Shellenberger).
On the contrary, Amazonia is critical as a carbon sink currently absorbing 5% of global emissions. Deliberately-lit Amazon fires under Bolsonaro’s presidential watch, up 17% from 2019’s nine-year high, enhance CO2 emissions and Amazonia’s savannah-isation while causing massive wildlife loss.
Fourthly, nuclear power is a preferred energy source to renewable energy (RE; Shellenberger).
Contrarily, Energy experts note: “Nuclear power is in terminal decline worldwide and will never make a serious contribution to tackling climate change.”
The idea that a new generation of small modular reactors would be built to replace existing nuclear power distracts from a climate solution.
The World Nuclear Industry Report 2019 states that RE costs are below coal and natural gas, while non-nuclear options save more carbon per dollar than does nuclear.
Lead author Schneider stressed, “electricity from new reactors will be three times more expensive than that from renewables.”
In brief, Shellenberger’s claims are not substantiated or based on flimsy argument.