Join Kym Bolado, David Blackmon, and Mike Howard, CEO of Howard Energy Partners as they speak with special guest Michael Shellenberger, author of “Apocalypse Never.”
Kym Bolado: So, just to give our listeners a pretty decent intro without taking too much time because you have a lot that you have managed to do. I just wanted to cover a few things. First of all, Time Magazine gave you Hero of the Environment Award. You have gotten Green Book Award winner. You also are the founder and president of Environmental Progress. Your current book out now, which is receiving five star reviews is “Apocalypse Never,” which is an extremely important book because it covers a lot of environmental stuff, as well as you’ve been known for environmental guru, climate change guru, North America’s leading public intellectual on clean energy, high priest, and your Ted talks have been reviewed more than 5 million times. You’ve also advised policy makers from around the world. You also have been a climate and environmentalist for over 30 years, and you recently were invited by the governmental panel on climate change for 2019 to serve as an independent expert reviewer of its next assessment report that will be due and published in 2020. And as a leading environmental journalist, you have also had articles in Forbes, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post. And of course your Ted talks have been seen by more than 6 million people. Um, have I left anything out? I’m sure I have, but we have a limited amount of time to introduce you.
I wanted to just ask you – some of your reviews on your book. I listened to it last night, they’re all five stars. Most of them are really geared at thanking you for really addressing one of the most controversial topics of our time, which is climate change. One of them was a titled the environmentalist with integrity. And so I wanted to start off with just asking you your opinion on you’ve been in this for over 30 years and you’ve kind of changed your stance on your view of the environment. And with that being said, you created this book. Why did you title the book what you titled it, “Apocalypse Never?”
Michael Shellenberger: Yeah, so I mean, I wrote “Apocalypse Never” for my, I mean I dedicated the book to my kids and in there between the either one of them was 14 and one of was 21. I was working on a book about nuclear energy actually. And, and in last year when people started to make claims like billions of people will die from climate change or we have 10 years to act, I just felt like the conversation had gotten just really crazy and spiraled out of control and that somebody needed to first and foremost just kind of separate the science from the science fiction. And so that’s what I do on climate change, endangered species, plastic waste, meat consumption, deforestation, basically every major environmental issue. I just go through it, and I described what’s what’s real, what’s not real. And then I also describe how human save nature and talk about the importance of things like substitution, which is just, you know, the replacement of coal with natural gas, for example, or the replacement of switching from wood to LPG or to nuclear.
And that these acts of substitution are really the main event when it comes to saving the national environment. Um, the other part of it is of course, using less land to, for food production in particular. And then the third part of the book is asking the question, why if environmental problems are manageable, you know, we have real environmental problems. Um, some are very serious, uh, but they’re not the end of the world. This is not the book of revelations. This is not the apocalypse. This is, you know, in terms of climate, it’s the planet getting a couple of degrees, maybe three degrees warmer over preindustrial levels, certainly things to worry about, but it’s not, you know, there’s not really any scenario for us to see a return towards the kind of poverty that we escaped with fossil fuels. So that’s what I wanted to address.
And, um, you know, the title just felt like it needed to kind of, uh, say exactly what I was saying. And so, those felt like the two words that really got at it, but some title as you might’ve mentioned was why environmental alarmism hurts us all. And I just wanted to describe why it’s a problem, this chronic exaggeration of environmental problems. I mean, it was shocking to me was how many environmental journalists who I criticized. I mean, they’re really part of the problem. Most environmental journalists are activists. They are, they go into environmental journalism because they’re environmental activists. So they exaggerate like activists do. But I was surprised by how many of them were like, come on, Michael, isn’t it okay to exaggerate a little bit in service of the cause. That’s kind of the basic idea for a lot of journalists.