The main idea of this book is to systematically go through all major environmental issues and controversies and demonstrate that in most cases alarmism is unwarranted, activism too often connected to corruption, and there is much better way to resolve problems than shut down industries, dramatically decrease quality of life for majority of people in developed countries, and prevent improvement for people in developing countries.
1: It’s Not the End of the World
This starts with description of IPCC reports predicting moderate increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees and rise of sea level by a couple feet in 2050 which, as usual, caused panic in mass media. Author does not challenge IPCC reports, he just makes point that it is not the end of the world as AOC and other political crooks claim. After that author recounts factors that make global warming and other potential changes quite manageable: human resilience and contemporary technological achievement that allow managing raise of sea level and actually decrease number of victims of all kinds of natural disasters. After that author discusses reality of poor world of Congo and similar places where Apocalypse is occurring right now and it happens mainly due to political and cultural reasons. Author presents a narrative of his interaction with extreme environmentalists and concludes that there is what he calls “Exaggeration Rebellion” when any indication of climate change is turned into future catastrophe, which had to be prevented by some usually unreasonable measures with huge negative economic impact. The final word in this chapter is that in reality there is many reasons to believe that Apocalypse will never come and track record of all doomsayers and their ideologically driven extreme environmental predictions is nearly perfect in its failures. The following chapters present author’s findings in various specific areas where environmentalists were fighting.
2: Earth’s Lungs Aren’t Burning
This chapter is about Amazon rain forest and environmental claims that they produced most oxygen and are in danger of elimination because of industrial and agricultural development. Author provides data that it is completely incorrect – Amazon is pretty much self-contain system which does not produced more oxygen than it consumes. Net result of rich countries intervention – suppressed development for poor in Brazil.
3: Enough with the Plastic Straws
Here author looks at fight against plastic straws and everything else plastic. The results of analysis: they by far less dangerous than it is claimed. It is also about waste management and need to direct resources not to forbid use of plastic, but rather create infrastructure to manage all waste, especially human waste, which is a lot more dangerous and polluting.
4: The Sixth Extinction Is Canceled
In this chapter author first looks at claims that we are in the middle of great extinction of species and bluntly rejects this idea. He claims that:” Conservationists, it turns out, are skilled at maintaining small populations of animals, from yellow-eyed penguins of New Zealand to mountain gorillas of central Africa. The real challenge is expanding the size of their populations. It’s not the case that humankind has failed to conserve habitat. By 2019, an area of Earth larger than the whole of Africa was protected, an area that is equivalent to 15 percent of Earth’s land surface. The number of designated protected areas in the world has grown from 9,214 in 1962 to 102,102 in 2003 to 244,869 in 2020.”
After that author moves to energy, stating that lots of people in poor countries get their energy by burning wood, which is highly inefficient and should be substituted by other forms like hydroelectricity and fossils, but environmentalists prevent this. Another issue is that rich countries push to protect animals, often at the expense of people as in case of protecting gorillas even if they destroy crops of poor farmers. Author calls such approach “Colonial Conservatism”.
5: Sweatshops Save the Planet
This chapter is about sweatshops in developing countries. As usual rich and stupid people in developed world so much worried about working conditions for poor people in developing world that they prevent these poor people from improving their lives by moving from subsistence agriculture where they work hard, but starve to industries where they work as hard, but earn a lot more and do not starve.
6: Greed Saved the Whales, Not Greenpeace
This chapter about environmentalists and their fight to save whales demonstrate another typical process: whale hunting greatly decreased because much better substitutes found for its products: author specifically discusses palm oil. Author also discusses other methods and substitutes that both provide better goods and services instead of traditional and environmentally unsound methods and products and then provide examples of environmentalists using disinformation to promote their objectives. One such example are documentaries against fracking. Author points out that fracking is much more environmentally friendly because it opened opportunity for natural gas production substituting coal.
7: Have Your Steak and Eat It Too
Here author discusses similar story about meat production: reality is human bodies need proteins, meat provides them, and enviros are trying prevent it by using all kinds of ethical and environmental reasons that does not make lots of sense.
8: Saving Nature Is Bomb
This chapter is about nuclear energy, which is actually the safest, cleanest, and most effective method of energy production. Author retells the story how it was restrained and nearly annihilated by anti-nuclear movement with use of massive government regulations.
9: Destroying the Environment to Save It
Next step in this show of horrors is “renewable” energy which in reality is unreliable, inefficient, and, funniest of all, the dirtiest because production, maintenance, and decommission of equipment for this “renewables” is far from clean. Adding such small thing that it is costlier than anything else, which should also be taken into account.
10: All About the Green
This is very a interesting chapter demonstrating how “green” activism is quite profitable business. Author reviews how exactly it is done with multiple examples.
11: The Denial of Power
This chapter is about another form of satisfaction that rich people obtain via environmental activism, this time via climate alarmism. Author not only presents usual examples of hypocrisy, but more interestingly discusses the specific example of how a young man in 1976 put up fight against building infrastructure project in poor village. He lost, but when he came back many years later, he found that this project changed lives in the village a lot and to the better. After that author looks at history of ideas starting with William Godwin and Malthus ideas of late XVIII century when one side believes in human ability to solve problems and control such things as population growth, while another believing that whatever are current problems, they could only get worse and could not be resolved ever except by some violent measures directed by elite against regular people. Author also discusses here ideas of leapfrog when poor nations just jump to superior technology without going through sequential process of development. The main example would be providing telephone to everybody in poor country without building wired connections infrastructure. Unfortunately, this could not apply to great many other things, especially energy, so attempt to do it often leads to waste of resources and increased misery of the poor.
12: False Gods for Lost Souls
This chapter starts with polar bears that supposedly were under the threat, but in reality, are doing just fine. After that author proceeds to discuss persecution of scientists who do not agree with alarmists and call for reasonable approach. Finally, author analyzes quasi-religious approach to environment and fanaticism it causes.
Here author discusses his current activities in promotion of reasonable approach to energy, climate, and other environmental issues that is founded on science and puts humanity first. Author calls such approach Environmental Humanism.
MY TAKE ON IT:
This is a nice catalog of environmental battles of the last 50+ years when various issues were used to scare public and mobilize people to fight against various industries in order to undermine capitalist societies. Meanwhile promoters of these issues are getting rich and increasingly hope to be able eventually take political power. I think it is actually a big sign of success for democratic capitalist societies that old issues such as exploitation of working class, poor housing, poor nutrition, long working hours, dangerous working conditions, and other big items of early XX century pretty much done with and do not elicit significant excitement among population. Correspondingly the general failure of socialist revolution due to lack of demand for it led to need for another set of issues that their promoters believe to be capable igniting revolution. This book nicely demonstrate that these issues are often just make-believe provocations, and I really doubt that they would provide enough ideological power to achieve what previous set of issues failed to achieve – socialist revolution.