A Green Embraces Evidence, Rejects Panic

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

There is much I disagree with in Zion Lights's May 31 piece in Quillette, but her embrace of nuclear power and not-quite-explicit rejection of Greta Thunberg's infamous call to panic are encouraging signs.

Regarding the first, the following required rare and laudable degrees of self-awareness and -- considering today's poisonous political climate -- courage to publish:

Image by Adam Tinworth, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
I do understand the NRDC's [Natural Resources Defense Council --ed] stance -- since I once fell for scaremongering and conspiracy theories regarding nuclear power myself. I even protested against it. I believed that nuclear waste is unmanageable and poses a threat to life, and that radiation warrants the closure of nuclear power stations. All of these beliefs were wrong. For many years I had criticised anti-vaxxers for taking a position that goes against scientific consensus, but I had been anti-nuclear myself which also goes against the scientific consensus.

I shudder to think of the damage this may have done to our planet. Misinformed beliefs have consequences
. [bold added]
And on the second:
This is why I've founded Emergency Reactor, a new green campaign for evidence-based environmentalism. In the battle against misinformation, every small act can make a difference. We need to react now to the issues the world faces -- air pollution, poverty, climate change -- but we also need to react rationally.

For too long traditional environmentalism has led the way with unscientific beliefs and ideologies, attacking anyone who holds opposing opinions, while demanding that the world's largest cake be baked without flour. This ideology has held us back, and this gatekeeping over environmentalism needs to end, because in too many cases, these groups are doing more harm than good to the planet they claim to defend. [bold added]
More of this, please! (And if I had a wish, it would be that Lights and others who are open to reason would continue, by questioning more deeply what we are all being told to react to, per the link below.)

Regulars here will know that I disagree with Lights: I agree with energy activist Alex Epstein that we should continue using fossil fuels, and that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not a crisis.

Nevertheless, it is heartening to see that there are people important to the green movement who are beginning to realize that the climate debate, such as it is, has been hostile to evidence and reason, the two things we most need to flourish and to make our world a safe and pleasant place to live.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

I do a lot of environmental remediation work. There are objective threats that need to be removed, after all--stuff causing cancer in drinking water aquifers, or stuff that puts a dozen people in a hospital, are legitimate threats to human life.

I've learned a few things doing this sort of work.

First, never trust an "Environmentalist" that dresses nice. Anyone legitimately concerned with cleanup is going to wear steel-toed boots, blue jeans, a ratty t-shirt, safety vest, hard hat, gloves, and safety glasses. Real environmental cleanup involves working on CERCLA sites (Superfund) and in areas governed by OSHA, which mandates Level D PPE. Folks who haven't worked in that get-up long enough to be comfortable with it aren't interested in the environment, they're politicians using environmental concerns to build a voting block. There are exceptions, but this is a good rule of thumb. Another rule of thumb: If they talk about nations, and not specific chemicals or remedial approaches, it's politics, not protecting the people or habitat (and I acknowledge that the word choice here is dubious; we simply don't have any other way to discuss these issues in our culture, thanks to political activists corrupting the language).

Second, the folks doing the actual cleanup are generally far more Conservative/Classical Liberal than the "Environmentalists" you hear about in the news. There are a lot of Libertarians, a lot of MAGA hats, and a lot of hunters in the environmental remediation world. You get a good assortment of tree-huggers as well, but after a couple of years the reality of environmental cleanup rounds off those edges. You learn VERY quickly that your college professors lied to you. The EPA is a bureaucracy and suffers the flaws of every bureaucracy. You can't clean up all potential threats, and it's not even wise to try (arsenic, barium, strontium, mercury, and a few other nasty metals are very commonly naturally occurring, for example). You learn very quickly that you have to pick your battles.

Third, I've learned that about 90% of what we're told about environmentalism is a lie. Worse, we're NOT taught the real threats. This is a major issue I have with the focus on global warming. Even if we assume it's a threat, it's not a major one (the most drastic results of the reasonable models mimic OIS-11, an interglacial period not associated with any extinction), and there are very serious threats that get lost in the discussion (Asia's dumping of waste into streams, for example).

Gus Van Horn said...


I completely agree on global warming, and I think the proof in the pudding will be whether anyone in the Green Nuclear Movement, for lack of a better term, comes around the way Michael Shellenberger did to conceding that fossil fuels have (at minimum) a much longer transitional role than a decade from now, or 2035, or whatever the latest "deadline" the doomsday cultists are throwing around now happens to be. (That would be monumental, although I don't think we need to do that, either.)

Nuclear is the only technology currently capable of replacing fossil fuels. Even if we started building capacity like madmen right now, it will take longer for it to replace fossil fuels than the false prophets of doom would allow.