The Forbes article, “Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong” explains why apocalyptic predictions or exaggerated claims of climate change by journalists and advocates can be counterproductive.
Written by Michael Shellenberger, it mentions the doomsday claims of some climate change activists and organisations, such as ‘Life on Earth is dying’, ‘collapse of civilization may have already begun’, or how about Greta Thunberg’s claim that in 2030 the earth will be in an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end to civilization.
Statements like these have real-life consequences, Shellenberger points out. For example, according to a British psychologist, there is increasing anxiety experienced by children, while another caused a violent incident when an activist and the videographer of the environmental group, Extinction Rebellion, were beaten and kicked out in a London Tube station by angry commuters (M. Shellenberger, 2019).
Shellenberger takes a nicely balanced position on climate change. He highlights the importance of conveying facts and science correctly and the obligation of both journalists and activists alike to present environmental problems as honestly and accurately as possible and not focusing too much on its ‘salience’ with the public.
Read further on the observations and arguments that Shellenberger presented in his article:
- Some use overblown phrases to describe disastrous events then linking it directly to climate change such as forest fires, bush fires, mass migration, ‘extinction of koalas’, followed by predictions of crop failure, famine, and mass deaths.
- The article tackles each claim and compares it with other evidence to show a balanced picture. For example, with mass migration, other factors like low socio-economic situation, poverty, and even armed conflicts are causing it more than just climate change. In bushfires causing massive losses, it could well be that building dwellings and houses near fire-prone areas account for the losses rather than the frequent bushfires experienced in Australia.
- Looking from both perspectives does not mean that we should care less about climate change because there are real threats and risks from climate change.
- The point is that scientist and activists do not need to ‘exaggerate things to get the publics’ attention’ as these kinds of apocalyptic rhetoric is making political agreements on climate change harder.
Expressing his concern for poor nations being denied the cheap sources of energy they need to develop, Shellenberger quotes MIT climate scientists Kerry Emanuel who shares his concerns:
“You’ve got to come up with some kind of middle ground where you do reasonable things to mitigate the risk and try at the same time to lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient,” said Emanuel. “We shouldn’t be forced to choose between lifting people out of poverty and doing something for the climate.”
On the matter of climate adaptation, climate change authorities must base their planning on scientific climate change claims rather than the unscientific claims and clamours of some activists.
Read the full article by clicking on the button below: