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@ii_sambliss wrote an excellent thread fact-checking Shellenberger's ‘Apocalypse never’. . If you want a researched story of the origins and evolution of the ideas behind the book check our 2019 paper @journalofpolit1… /THREAD
Shellenberger styles himself now in the ‘born-again’ mold that Americans love. He is supposedly an environmentalist who saw the light, and comes out to tell the world the truth about environmentalism /2
Truth is Shellenberger has been styling himself the same way and saying the same exact story ever since he appeared in the mid-2000s, as we explain in our paper… /3
Time Magazine declared Shellenberger in 2008 as a ‘hero’ for saying what he says now: that environmentalists are the real obstacle to environmental progress. And that doing what we already do but thought was bad for the environment will actually save the environment /4
Already at age 30, he was presenting himself as a ‘veteran’ activist who saved the Redwoods (he and Muir, that is). But Shellenberger was also running a successful PR company, American Environics. Hard to say if his own story was not part of the PR message to sell himself /5
It is indeed difficult to tell facts from fiction in Shellenberger’s accounts of both himself and the facts he presents. Because his role has never been that of a scientist, but in his own admission that of an opinion-maker crafting facts into stories with political effects /6
Yale law professor Douglas Kysar wrote an excellent essay for the Harvard Law Review with the title ‘Consultant’s Republic’ back in 2007. A scathing critique of this post-truth ‘pragmatism’ of Shellenberger and the Breakthrough Institute -… /7
One cannot second-guess Shellenberger’s motives. His early work on ‘the death of environmentalism’ (2004) had some valid critiques of big green U.S. NGOs and a reasonable call for bold green investments that echoes today’s Green New Deal. /8
But through his verbal clashes with all sorts of environmentalists, his position gradually evolved into a staunch mission to prove American environmentalists, of all colours (from the Sierra Club to inner city justice activists) wrong – on all grounds. /9
As we argue in our paper with @ii_sambliss if you want to understand the positions Shellenberger defends, look at what environmental groups in the US happen to support: his claims are the mirror opposite./10
The facts he is selecting to support his story should be confronted for what they are: wrong facts. /11
Like the facts mobilized by his intellectual counterpart in Europe, Bjorn Lomborg, Shellenberger’s facts are based on a selective reading of science. Scientists have proven Lomborg wrong over and over again (see for example @ProfJeroenBergh’s…) /12
This will not stop neither Lomborg or Shellenberger from repeating ‘greed saved the whales’ types of myths that have assumed the status of a legend in their alternative universe. Because their intention behind the presented facts is ideological & political, not scientific /13
I will be the last one to claim that there is social science free of ideology. But what keeps science legitimate is peer-review quality assurance and academic reputation. Which, as Kysar shows, is not the case for PR opinion-makers who abide by different goals and standards. /14
I can’t help smirking then when I read Shellenberger, like Lomborg before, claiming the high ground of science and reason against emotional, ‘cultish’ environmentalists (under which they include some of the world’s top climatologists & energy scientists). /15
When we wrote our article with @ii_sambliss, we wondered why the denialist right had not yet taken up Shellenberger’s ideas. /16
Indeed, compared to denialism, Shellenberger provides a pretext of reason, accepting environmental problems, only to then conclude that nothing much has to change to solve them. /17
Even more, his narrative preemptively rewrites the history of our failure for future generations. When the planet burns in heat, Shellenberger wants us to look back and say that it was the environmentalists who doomed the planet, by stopping nuclear power and GMOs (!) /18
Given the convenient untruths it offers, it is not a surprise then that Shellenberger’s book has become a best-seller, and a darling of the Quillette, Heartland Institute and Fox News right. 18/END.
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