The Australian misled its readers this week when it carried a major article purporting to be written by a climate activist who was admitting climate science was bunkum.
Michael Shellenberger, headlined as an environmentalist in the article, is in fact a self-advertised nuclear power lobbyist and an advocate for nuclear weapons proliferation.
Other Murdoch newspapers and Australia’s Sky News have also carried Shellenberger’s claim: “On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the past 30 years.”
He may once have been an environmentalist but the fact is he was exposed - not for the first time - for attacking climate science as long ago as 2010 by the Public Interest Research Centre which reported that along with a co-author he had restated “a plethora of half truths, misrepresentations and outright fantasies that have lately become almost canonical in the public sphere.”
Shellenberger makes his agenda clear on various websites and elsewhere: the present approach to dealing with climate change is not working, renewable power sources won’t solve the problem and, therefore, the entire world needs to be nuclear powered.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2017 that the widespread adoption of nuclear power across the world would solve the climate change problem "because it basically reduces your carbon emissions to near zero in the power sector”.
The Herald described him not as an environmentalist but as “a nuclear power advocate”.
In 2003 he co-founded the Breakthrough Institute which says on its website:
“Breakthrough's energy work has focused heavily on the future of nuclear energy. Along with a growing cohort of scientists, journalists, philanthropists, and environmentalists, we have made the case that addressing climate change will require abundant, cheap, safe, and reliable nuclear energy.”
In 2016, he became the founder and president of an enterprise lobbying for the nuclear industry, and gave it the misleading title of “Environmental Progress”.
He describes its aim: “The greatest threat to the climate today comes from the decline of clean energy as a share of electricity globally. EP is working with scientists, conservationists and citizens around the world to defend our largest source of clean energy, nuclear power.”
On the website he boasts: “He has helped save nuclear reactors around the world, from Illinois and New York to South Korea and Taiwan, thereby preventing an increase in air pollution equivalent to adding over 24 million cars to the road.”
In a major article for Forbes magazine in 2018 Shellenberger wrote: “Who are we to deny weak nations the nuclear weapons they need for self-defense?”
In another 2018 Forbes article under a cross-heading “Why Nuclear Energy Prevents War” Shellenberger wrote: “After over 60 years of national security driving nuclear power into the international system, we can now add “preventing war” to the list of nuclear energy’s superior characteristics.”
Friends of the Earth reported in 2017 he was “stridently pro-nuclear, hostile towards renewable energy and hostile towards the environment movement.”
At that time Shellenberger was in Australia to speak at a major conference - not a climate change summit but the International Mining and Resources Conference - to advance the cause of nuclear power.
Renew Economy analysed Shellenberger’s arguments, saying: “…he is stridently pro-nuclear, hostile towards renewable energy and hostile towards the environment movement.”
This is not the first time The Australian has used this nuclear lobbyist to attack renewable energy and climate science. It featured him three years ago under the headline: Nuclear ‘must replace coal, gas’. He was in in Australia “to promote his message that wind and solar have failed, that they are doubling the cost of electricity, and that “all existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”
In his article Shellenberger gives 12 examples of scientific findings which he says are incorrect and which are climate alarmism.
Take just one: “Humans are not causing a ‘sixth mass extinction’ “
His assertion contradicts the work of more than 1,000 scientists contributing to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services which found “1,000,000 species threatened with extinction” and warned: “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
That makes the The Australian’s publishing of the article all the more risible is that in reality it is a puff piece for Shellenberger’s new book Apocalypse Now and is more or less identical with what he published on his website on June 29.
Forbes, which has carried Shellenberger’s articles in the past, withdrew the puff piece.
National Post asked Forbes why this had happened and was told,: “Forbes requires its contributors to adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This story did not follow those guidelines, and was removed.”
Don’t expect The Australian to follow suit.
*Readers who might want to read about a real climate scientist changing his mind about global warming should read Prof Richard Muller’s story.
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