This is the third and final article in the series I call The Shellenberger Chronicles. I hope you have had an opportunity to read parts one and two still appearing at More importantly however than reading my highlights of the book Apocalypse Never is for you to obtain the book and read it cover to cover. I have published over 500 reviews of science books in my career, now spanning seven decades. Most of them were good and well worth reading. Many were excellent, but in today’s world where politics has biased nearly everything we read, see and hear in the media, Apocalypse Never is the most important book you can read. It is not a work of opinion but rather the unveiling of the facts and details of the nefarious goals of radical environmentalists across the world desiring to control your life.

I have been a bit harsh, at times, on Mr. Shellenberger for having spent two decades of his life helping those he is now Book Review: Apocalypse Never by Michael Shellenbergercommitted to expose. In his final chapter titled False Gods For Lost Souls he explains why. He first describes from Ernest Becker’s book The Denial of Death that an exaggerated fear of death reveals a deep and often subconscious dissatisfaction with one’s life. Where what one is really recognizing that he or she is not making enough out of their lives. They feel stuck in bad relationships, unsupportive communities, or oppressive careers. Then Shellenberger says:

That was certainly the case for me. I was drawn toward the apocalyptic view of climate change twenty years ago. I can see now that my heightened anxiety about climate change reflected underlying anxiety and unhappiness in my own life that had little to do with climate change or the state of the natural environment”.

The final third of this amazing book is a complete denouement of who Shellenberger is today. He proves to be not only an excellent writer but also a philosopher. Not the kind that pulls thoughts out of thin air as Plato was known to do but thoughts based on a build up of concepts derived from the work of dozens of others described in his 1220 end notes, Just as he learned from Ernest Becker mentioned above.

In Chapter Nine “Destroying The Environment To Protect It”, he follows in the footsteps of Michael Moore’s outstanding movie Planet For The Humans which illustrated the destruction done in creating the materials necessary to build wind turbines and solar arrays. He goes further however in making a clear calculation that if the United States were to try and generate all the energy it uses with renewables, which is Mr. Biden’s plan, between 25 and 50 percent of all land in the US would be required. By contrast we know that today’s energy system requires less than a single percent of our nation’s land.

Now consider this. Just as the high power density of coal made the industrial revolution possible, the far lower power densities of solar and wind would make today’s high energy urbanized, and industrial civilization impossible. In fact for many environmental alarmists that is their very goal.

These facts become more obvious when we learn from the author of the corruption of most of the major environmental groups you can name. While fighting tooth and nail against the fossil fuel industry they are taking donations from them with the promise of helping them defeat any further success of nuclear power in America. Shellenberger specifically names the Sierra club, the Natural Resource Defense Council(NRDC), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Bill McKibben’s in this cabal.

His research turned up through government reports shows that Climate activists such as those mentioned above, massively outspend climate skeptics, though they claim the opposite. EDF and NRDC alone have a total budget of $384 million while the two largest skeptic groups, the Competitive Enterprise Group and the Heartland Institute have combined budgets of $13 million.

During the many years these groups were denouncing fossil fuels and Exxon and the Koch brothers for funding their political opponents and demanding that universities stop investing in fossil fuels, all of the above mentioned groups were accepting large quantities of money from fossil fuel billionaires like Michal Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.

In the next to last chapter of Apocalypse Never Shellenberger zeros in on the true evil perpetrated on the poor by rich progressives and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) pretending to help them. The United Nations and environmental NGOs describe their work as helping poor nations “avoid the mistakes made in the industrialized world”, in the words of the UN Development Program.

While we all know of Thomas Malthus, the late 18th century economist who predicted that the earth could not sustain its growing population, you will learn how truly evil he and his disciples have been. Malthusians continue to this day to operate through radical environmentalism. Adolph Hitler too was inspired by Malthus. “The productivity of the soil can only be increased within defined limits and up to a certain point” he wrote in Mein Kampf. What has given Malthus his popularity among the ruling classes is that he furnished a plausible reason for the assumption that some have a better right to existence than others.

Today’s Malthusians, Shellenberger tells us, have significantly modified Malthus preachings. Where he warned that overpopulation would result in scarcity of food, today they warn that energy abundance will result in overpopulation, environmental destruction and societal collapse. They say this while ignoring energy use among the rich and famous.

You may think that celebrities who moralize about climate change are tone deaf while jetting around the globe, but they are not. They are flaunting their special status. Hypocrisy, the author tells us, is the ultimate power move. It is a way of demonstrating that one plays by a different set of rules from the ones adhered to by the common people.

By virtue of giving up his spot among them he has quickly become a pariah to the left. He has been attacked in newspapers, on twitter and of course by CNN. The New York Post allowed him to publish a rebuttal to all the abuse and he did so with excellent clarity. He still has not given up his belief that CO2 may effect temperature but no one’s perfect. He does clearly explain the minimal negative impacts from climate change and points out that alarmists constantly say it makes disasters worse in order to have visual and dramatic events like Hurricane Sandy and California wildfires “to make the issue more salient with voters”.

In the end he says in his NY Post article “climate alarmism gives them a purpose: to save the world from climate change. It offers them a story that casts them as heroes. And it provides a way for them to find meaning in their lives while retaining the illusion that they are people of science and reason not superstition and fantasy”.

This is the theme of the final chapter of his book False Gods For Lost Souls. The trouble with the new environmental religion he tell us is that it has become increasingly apocalyptic, destructive, and self defeating. It leads its adherents to demonize their opponents as we have seen with every so called denier. A term which we know was lifted from the despicable “holocaust deniers”. It drives them to to seek to restrict power and prosperity here and abroad. Worst of all it spreads anxiety and depression among an unsuspecting populace.

If the climate apocalypse is a subconscious fantasy he says, for people who dislike civilization, it might help explain why the people who are the most alarmist about environmental problems are also the most opposed to the technologies capable of addressing them.

The answer for many rational environmentalists like myself who are alarmed by the religious fanaticism of those claiming to be concerned with the environment is that we need to better maintain the divide between science and religion, just as scientists need to maintain the divide between their personal values and the facts they study.

As I reach the end of my chronicles of Shellenberger’s work, I hope I have not made you satisfied with understanding the great service he has done in committing himself to right the wrongs he now understands he committed. You will benefit so much more by obtaining his book and giving it a slow and discerning read.


  • CFACT Senior Science Analyst Jay Lehr has authored more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. Jay’s new book A Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change written with Teri Ciccone is now available on Kindle and Amazon.