Andrew  Follett

Pessimism has taken hold of the environmental movement and created an air of apocalyptic panic. Opinion leaders tell us that climate change will bring humanity to extinction. Some even suggest we should all commit species suicide rather than continue damaging the environment. This pessimism has little relation to scientific fact. Pessimism and scientific problems go hand-in-hand: interest groups exaggerate a problem’s scale to push their agenda, and the media try to cash in by adopting the rhetoric of a disaster in progress. But have no fear: doomsday prophecies never quite materialize.

Scientific problems seldom live up to all the hype. Acid rain, the “Population Bomb,” the hole in the ozone layer and the Y2K bug all prompted predictions of the world’s end. Yet here we are, still extant. The new panic du jour just happens to be climate change.

Just look at the predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970. Speaker after speaker proclaimed overpopulation or acid rain would finish civilization. Climate change is certainly happening – overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that increasing carbon dioxide emissions will raise world temperatures in the coming decades – but it won’t be the death of civilization. Mainstream scientists (but not the media, nor the activists) know that global warming has been “paused” for roughly 15 years and that the U.S.’s emissions are falling rapidly.


Andrew Follett

Andrew Follett is a student seeking a Masters of Public Policy in Science and Technology Policy at George Mason University.