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September 23, 2022

The Environmental Movement Feeds on Fear

Today’s fundamentalist environmentalists want to scare you into believing things that just aren’t so.

We rarely think about it, but it’s a miracle we’re still here, still alive on planet earth. At least according to the eco-theologians.

You remember: The green lobby’s scaremongering soothsayers said we’d have a planetary disaster by 2020 if the U.S. and China didn’t reduce their carbon emissions by 80%. Neither happened, of course, but that reality won’t humble the environmental zealots, nor will it keep them from their next wacky prediction.

“It’s easy to believe life on Earth is getting ever worse,” writes skeptical environmentalist and Hoover Institution visiting fellow Bjorn Lomborg. “The media constantly highlight one catastrophe after another and make terrifying predictions. With the never-ending torrent of doom and gloom about climate change and the environment, it’s understandable why many people — especially the young — genuinely believe the world is about to end. But the fact is that though problems remain the world is getting better. We just rarely hear about it.”

How so? How are things getting better when young Greta Thunberg and her enablers tell us they’re getting so much worse? Lomborg continues: “We are incessantly told about disasters, whether it is the latest heat wave, flood, wildfire or storm. Yet the data overwhelmingly show that over the past century people have become much, much safer from all these weather events. In the 1920s, around half a million people were killed by weather disasters, whereas in the last decade the death toll averaged around 18,000. This year, like both 2020 and 2021, is tracking below that. Why? Because when people get richer, they get more resilient.”

None of this matters to the green movement, though, which can’t command headlines or raise funds from aging hippies or overwhelm us with regulations and policy proscriptions if life is seen as good. Of course, it’s one thing to concede that the planet may be warming just a smidge, but it’s another thing entirely to believe that the Democrats’ so-called Green New Deal and the environmental zealotry that it embodies is the solution. Because it isn’t.

“Today’s climate activists resemble nothing so much as a religious movement,” writes Joel Kotkin, “with carbon the new devil’s spawn. The green movement is increasingly wedded to a kind of carbon fundamentalism that is not only not realistic but will reduce living standards in the West and around the world. And as with other kinds of religious fundamentalism, the climate hysteria is often overwrought and obviously so.”

Indeed, wasn’t Australia’s Great Barrier Reef supposed to be dead by now instead of enjoying its greatest coral cover since record-keeping began? And what about those poor polar bears from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth? As it turns out, their numbers have more than doubled since the 1960s. Then there’s the undeniable greening of our planet in recent years, which brings with it all manner of agrarian and life-sustaining benefits.

And to the extent that carbon emissions are a problem, we here in the West aren’t the cause of it. As Kotkin writes: “The reality is what we do in the West means increasingly little. Today’s biggest emitters comes from China, which already emits more GHG than the U.S. and the EU combined, while the fast growth in emissions comes increasingly from developing countries like India, now the world’s third largest emitter.”

In looking for workable solutions, Kotkin warns against “placing all bets on fundamentally intermittent, unreliable and economically problematic solar and wind energy” and instead urges a focus on denser, more reliable energy sources such as nuclear power and hydroelectric generation and abundant natural gas.

Ted Nordhaus, cofounder and executive director of the Breakthrough Institute and a coauthor of the Ecomodernist Manifesto, seems to agree. “Leaving an ecologically vibrant planet to future generations will require a drastically reformed environmental movement,” he writes, “one ready to make its peace with modernity and technology and abandon pastoral nostalgias and utopian fantasies for solutions that may be less satisfying but more durable. That will require … a lot less impossible environmentalism.”

In the meantime, it’d help a great deal if the environmental zealots, the scaremongers, would kindly put a sock in it. As Lomborg concludes: “Climate change fear is causing life-changing anxiety. You might be hearing nothing but bad news, but you aren’t hearing the full story.”

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