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The Power of Keeping Minds and Conversations Open

The environmentalist Michael Schellenberger, famous for his about-face on renewables and his support for nuclear energy, recently wrote an article in Forbes issuing an apology on behalf of all environmentalists for creating the climate alarmist scare. If you haven’t read it, here’s the link. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, it’s worth a thoughtful read.

Unfortunately, Forbes chose to remove the article from its website shortly after it was published. It’s not clear why as no explanation was given. There was merely a broken link where an article used to be. Regardless of the reasons, Forbes’ decision plays into the narrative of censoring content that is contrarian to the agreed upon orthodoxy of the day. And pretty much everything in this article goes against the canons of climate alarmism.

Michael Shellenberger is no supporter of fossil fuels, and many likely expect me to dismiss him entirely knowing that I support responsible development. However, I’m a fan of his work. The main reason I like this article is because Schellenberger is attempting to bring the temperature down (pun intended) so that we can get back to having a reasonable debate on realistic environmental protection. In the world of instant “cancel culture”, it takes courage to stand up to the mob, but having the right level of concern about an accurately defined problem is the best way to ensure an impactful solution.

We’re living in a climate where the voices of those with a propensity toward doom and fear have been elevated to a level that can’t be ignored no matter how hard someone may try. Like an ever-present Orwellian Telescreen, they can’t be silenced entirely. We’ve allowed them to rule academia, politics, the media, and science. We’re inundated with messages about catastrophe and imminent doom unless we do something, a requested action which is often not clearly defined and, therefore, not actionable.

The other reason I like Schellenberger’s article is because it presents a message of calmness over fear. Maybe I have a more optimistic view than others of humanity and our ability to innovate and implement adaptive mitigation measures. (Who would have thunk it? I have always seen myself as a realist – not a pessimist with an unquestioning penchant for doom, nor a Pollyanna with blind optimism. I fall somewhere in between.) Plus, I have a belief in ever-progressing public policy that protects the natural environment. As a wise LinkedIn connection said, “Good public policy is informed public policy”, and we’ve seen that environmental protection has been at the forefront in the last few decades resulting in the implementation of legislation that has positively impacted the natural environment. To continue on this path, we need an accurately defined threat or problem, and we have to have the ability to talk about it and disagree about it and its prospective solutions.

I’m not asking you to weigh into the climate debate in great nuanced detail, but I do want you to participate in respectful, reasoned, open debates on the topic, even with people of opposing viewpoints. Especially with people of opposing viewpoints. We cannot lose the ability to openly discuss various ideas with rigour and passion. Wanting to discuss different perspectives does not make you morally wrong, nor does it make you a bad person, so push past the loud voices trying to silence open debate and keep the conversation flowing.

Schellenberger’s article demonstrates the power of keeping minds and conversations open.

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