What a great book, people. Shellenberger’s environmental humanism, as he terms it, provides a calm, intelligent, well-informed, and supremely rational response to the apocalyptic environmentalism that’s so fashionable today.
Shellenberger is an epitome of a tree-hugger in the best sense of the word. The guy has dedicated his life to championing every environmental cause and advancing every conservationist agenda in existence. He created the original Green New Deal back when AOC was practically still in diapers.
He’s rare, though, in that he’s capable of changing his mind if data warrants it. He’s also a genuinely calm and rational person, which makes the book a pleasure to read.
Shellenberger is disturbed by how much of what passes for environmentalism is motivated by psychological problems and misplaced religiosity:
Having first experienced and then studied the phenomenon for fifteen years, I believe that secular people are attracted to apocalyptic environmentalism because it meets some of the same psychological and spiritual needs as Judeo-Christianity and other religions. Apocalyptic environmentalism gives people a purpose: to save the world from climate change, or some other environmental disaster. It provides people with a story that casts them as heroes, which … we need in order to find meaning in our lives. At the same time, apocalyptic environmentalism does all of this while retaining the illusion among its adherents that they are people of science and reason, not superstition and fantasy.
One of my favorite parts of the book is Shellenberger’s discussion of neocolonialism that informs many of the efforts to deny people in poor countries the same comforts we enjoy as a result of industrialization. Shellenberger believes that the environment will be helped by lifting people out of poverty instead of keeping them artificially deprived of cheap, accessible energy to please a troop of dumb, overwrought Thunberg types.
Shellenberger also talks about how Malthusianism became a Leftist thing after its long and inglorious history as a right-wing fad. He takes apart many of the climate hoaxes that have gotten a lot of coverage. He talks about the renewable energy sources and why they aren’t working out. He discusses the anti-meat agenda of fake environmentalists.
There’s so much good stuff in the book I can’t even list all of it. But if there’s one book you read on the environment all year (or two, or three), let it be Apocalypse Never because it’s so good. And I don’t even agree with the central premise of the book but I still think it’s a wonderful read.