The Environmentalist That Was Censored For Shifting His Opinion On Climate Change
Michael Shellenberger, a long time environmentalist who has been in the trenches helping to save the world’s last unprotected redwoods, co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal and led an effort to keep nuclear power plants operating in order to prevent a spike of emissions, shifted his perspective on climate change a couple of years ago.
Prior to that, he was holding the perspective that we must be alarmed about the fact that the world will end in a short amount of time if we don’t act to reduce carbon emissions immediately.
He shifted his opinion based on exploring emerging science on the subject. He then went on to write a book called Never Apocalypse, which seeks to help explore what we can do to better our environment from a grounded and accurate point of view, as opposed to alarmism.
He wrote an article on Forbes' website titled “On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize For the Climate Scare.” Two days later, Forbes decided to remove his article.
To be clear, I'm not here to suggest we are not damaging our environment, we are, I've never denied that. In fact, I've been active about addressing that issue for 15 years. What I'm more concerned about is the politicization of science around the conversation of C02 and how that narrative is being used for many things - yet likely no actually solving our environmental issues. I made a short documentary about this discussion here.
Why It Matters: The fact that Forbes removed an article that was grounded, calm, well written and explored new conversations illustrates the dominating culture of today that says, ‘censor anything that can get us in trouble’ or ‘censor anything that doesn’t agree with mainstream conjecture.'
Climate change is a complex issue, with multiple factors involved, are we truly suggesting that we should not explore differing perspectives?
The issue is increasing. During a World Economic Forum (WEF) anti-disinformation panel last month for example, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Melissa Fleming, announced that they "own the science."
She was specifically referencing their new climate change agenda. She brought up the UN's partnership with Big Tech companies including TikTok and Google that contribute to controlling the narrative on climate change information.
We’ve come into a time where our collective lack of emotional intelligence is surfacing deeply for us to address. When we disagree on something, we struggle to explore things together. When a company says something they feel might get them in trouble, they run away in fear that the angry mob will come after them.
All that happened here was a man wrote an article that brought some new light to a conversation that has been very polarized and is causing people to react out of emotion instead of logic and the heart. Instead of listening and exploring, censorship ensues.
The Takeaway: I spoke at a high school here in Toronto a couple of years ago. At the end of my talk, many students came up to me to talk, discuss ideas and share feedback. The vast majority of them explained to me that they were terrified that the world was going to end in just 11 years. They felt they had no future because of the acts of generations prior who were causing CO2 levels to rise so high that the world would end.
This has actually been been a common theme for some time. Take a look at this AP article headline from 1989.
I thought to myself, wow, an entire generation of kids being pushed into fear, anxiety and depression based on information that isn’t even the full story and highly politicized. The information they were referring to was created by politicians and pushed out by media. The politicians did not convey the message the scientists had put out in the paper they were reporting on.
Politics removing meaning from kids lives, is this what society has become?
Scientists categorically do not agree with the idea that the world is coming to an end in 11 years as a result of CO2 emissions. Yet not enough people are telling people this, most of media is staying silent on other perspectives and censorship even shuts down opposing ideas and experts in the field. Furthermore, they are stigmatized and labelled as "conspiracy theorists."
We've seen similar things happen with medical experts and renowned scientists throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
What type of world will we create if we can’t discuss basic ideas? What type of world will we create when we choose to run, hide and censor as opposed to having important conversations? How can we stop identifying so deeply with positions, so that we can be more free to shift ideas when new information helps us understand things better?
Looking Deeper: I made a documentary a couple of years ago year called Regenerate: Beyond The CO2 Narrative. After 10 years of researching and investigating climate change, I came to many conclusions that I felt needed to be shared, yet were extremely rare in public discourse.
One of the most important aspects of Regenerate is that we are looking at our environment from such a limited point of view that we can’t identify the real issues we face, and that our level of thinking, or consciousness, is completely disconnected from the solutions required to truly shift our relationship with earth. Thus, we are creating solutions that don't truly address making the environment cleaner or better long term.