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Environmental alarmism

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When you see polar bears, you may think of climate change. Mainstream media taught you that. I have to admit that when I was young, seeing those polar bears on television convinced me that I can help solve climate change by specializing in energy.

And the mainstream media led me to believe that renewable energy is the highway. Something must be done. I should be a part of this revolution.

As for you, maybe watching the An Inconvenient Truth and Greta Thunberg’s U.N. speech stirred you into alarmism too.

My education in energy exposed me to a lot of forces at play. I learned that climate change is not just about saving the environment. There’s also the technical, economic, and political side.

When I took my master’s in energy, I attended a nuclear energy forum funded by the Department of Science and Technology. The forum opened me to another perspective that the fear-mongering around nuclear is exaggerated and political. It also emphasized that the Philippines can maximize the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to cut its emissions and lessen electricity costs.

A year later, the university I attended hosted another forum on Why We Need Nuclear Energy by Michael Shellenberger. As an ex-alarmist, he shared his journey on how he changed his mind about nuclear energy. He goes on to say that renewable energy cannot save the planet from climate change. Here’s a TED Talk he gave that’s somehow similar to what I attended.

Listening to him speak that day felt like just a matter of fact as he emphasized why the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should be revived. My main takeaway from his talk is that to deal with climate change, we also need to address economic growth, and the nuclear plant can help with that. And that people from developing countries like the Philippines deserve prosperity too.

At the end of his talk, he ended with Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

He said that we only have one earth, might as well be great stewards of it.

Right then and there, I realized that you cannot really separate the spiritual from everything you set your heart to do, even if that’s science.

A year later, I stumbled upon his book about why environmental alarmism hurts us all. As a Christian, the last chapter really hit home. I’m starting to see spiritual forces at play in energy politics.

The common themes about climate change these days are higher temperatures, rising sea levels, systems collapse, and mass extinction. And the emotions you usually get are fear and panic. And fear and panic are the satan’s work.

Michael Shellenberger goes to say that as nature becomes a god, the environmental alarmism a religion.

As quoted from the book:

On the other hand, apocalyptic environmentalism is a kind of new Judeo-Christian religion, one that has replaced God with nature. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, human problems stem from our failure to adjust ourselves to God. In the apocalyptic environmental tradition, human problems stem from our failure to adjust ourselves to nature. In some Judeo-Christian traditions, priests play the role of interpreting God’s will or laws, including discerning right from wrong. In the apocalyptic environmentalist tradition, scientists play that role. “I want you to listen to the scientists,” Thunberg and others repeat.

What propelled me to write this blog post is to share my realization that we need to test everything we hear from mainstream media, even if they call it ‘science’. Experience also taught me that some parts of the system that holds the energy sector are not related to science but are instead associated with business and politics. My academic journey may have begun with alarmism and the ideology that renewable energy is the only way. But I do not think the same way now. You might have fallen to the belief of extreme environmental alarmism too. If that’s the case, I strongly recommend that you read Michael Shellenberger’s book. You can also watch this video where he gave a discussion about it.

I also believe that alarmism is not a good way to propel action. Like I have said earlier, it only causes fear and panic. And you already know by experience that deciding out of fear and panic is not a wise move. Instead, love is the best motivator to compel people to do something about the energy issues we now face. When we genuinely love our neighbors and care about their welfare, our love motivates us to help them access cleaner and cheaper electricity. And that’s an excellent way to start a revolution.

Under the premise that there is a bi-directional relationship between energy consumption and economic growth, Michael Shellenberger might be right about the need to maximize the country’s nuclear plant. But it is still worth checking the economics to validate the claim. And given the Philippines’ archipelagic nature, renewable energy remains vital in raising people out of poverty in the unserved and underserved areas.