@ShellenbergerMD wrote an opinion piece in
@Quillette with some very big claims on environment issues in order to push his new book sales. Here’s a thread on the accuracy of these claims. @EcoEye
#energytwitter #climatetwitter @gimenezbarbat @BlairKing_ca https://twitter.com/Quillette/status/1277893845494018048
Claim 1: “Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
False (unfortunately) - this statement completely misrepresents the view of actual scientists in the field.

“Although biologists are still debating how much the current extinction rate exceeds the background rate,
even the most conservative estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity typical of a mass extinction event.
In fact, some studies show that the interacting conditions experienced today, such as accelerated climate change, changing atmospheric composition caused
by human industry, and abnormal ecological stresses arising from human consumption of resources, define a perfect storm for extinctions.
All these conditions together indicate that a sixth mass extinction is already well underway.” https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-how-biodiversity-experts-recognise-that-we-re-midst-a-mass-extinction
Claim 2: "The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world” "
True - But this statement was never meant literally. Saying that without recognising that the Amazons health is critically important to biosphere health seems to suggest an agenda in how that statement is framed.
Claim 3: “Climate change is not making natural disasters worse”
False - The Earth is over 1C (MST) warmer due to anthropogenic climate change, this has an attribution effect on all extreme weather situations. And the science is becoming clear that this is now measurable.
Claim 4: "Fires have declined 25 percent around the world since 2003"
- Half true. At the global scale, burned area has decreased in recent decades, largely due to clearing of savannahs for agriculture and increased fire suppression.
Claim 5: "The amount of land we use for meat—humankind’s biggest use of land—has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska"
True - but this contraction is mostly in arid regions where scrubland was used for extensive low impact grazing. Some of the declines in these regions
have been offset by expansions of grazing in tropical regions where the environmental destruction is immense. E.g. the Amazon. This “livestock revolution” has come with consequences associated with the spreading of fertilizers, and the draining of ecologically sensitive wetlands.
Claim 7: "Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s"
- True, but only for direct emissions. Offshoring of emissions of manufacture to China etc is one of the biggest reasons for this decline.
Claim 8: "The Netherlands became rich, not poor while adapting to life below sea level"
- The Netherlands became rich for many reasons, mostly banking and monetary policy and over a long period of developing social structures. Ten of thousands have died in flooding events in The
Netherlands over the last 600 years. They eventually built dams to expand and protect their territory. However, this should not assume that unorganised societies will follow the same path. Especially not if that sea-level rise is rapid. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48337629
Claim 9: "We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter"
- Half true, food production will rise in some areas in the short and medium-term and decline in other areas in the short, medium and land term.
This will create climate inequalities and increase tensions between regions. While the “natural” conditions for global food production are likely to get significantly worse over a longer timeline, there's hope that technology can offset much of these problems in medium term.
Claim 10: "Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change"
- Half true, habitat loss and hunting are societal problems that can mostly be solved today. AGW will go on for a long time, it’s unclear what is a bigger threat
Claim 11: "Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels"
-Mostly true, However, developed countries like Sweden forest thinning are used to heat homes instead of coal there are co-benefits with local employment, local produce and obvious Co2 savings over FF's
Claim 12: "Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture"
- Speculative, but mostly true. Industrial agriculture has little to do with eating bats but could indirectly be a part of the solution of reducing wildlife encroachment.
Shellenberger is correct that both nuclear power and GM food technology are powerful tools for today's environmental challenges, But he is not an energy or climate expert and has no training in this field, nor is he an expert in most of the other fields he claims authority in.
Modernising society when done right can have great potential for reducing the impacts on the natural world, but his grasp of the problems appear either ideologically driven, or arrogantly misinformed and superficial. We need honest open discourse in the debate on how to tackle
the environmental problems of our time, we don’t need misinformed people making wild claims, or misleading cherry-picked data, in order to sell books to make readers feel better about doing nothing about the destruction of planet earth - our only home. /end
You can follow @Marcusdstewart.
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