Michael Shellenberger
© Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michael Shellenberger
The bad-faith tactics employed by two Australian reporters on separate newspapers that were designed to smear the climate dissenter shows the environmental press is little more than the provisional wing of Extinction Rebellion.

It's a well-worn trope these days that environmentalism has come to fill the God-shaped hole left in many a Western heart. They have their child saints (Greta), their wise old sages (Sir David Attenborough), their sacred texts ('The Uninhabitable Earth') and, obviously, they're predicting the end of the world. But what really brings out their zealotry is the way they treat apostates. Take the recent case of Mr Mike Shellenberger.

Shellenberger is a well-known American green campaigner with previously impeccable lefty credentials guaranteed to get him invited to all the right drinks parties. He was Time 2008 Hero of the Environment and was so left-wing, he even spent time living in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinistas.

Surely by now you must be thinking, where is this guy's Guardian op-ed page? But no, for Shellenberger is not a true believer. He has doubts, he questions the catechism, he has been revealed to have evil denialist beliefs like - wait for it - not believing the end of the world is nigh.

Following the release of his latest book, 'Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All', mainstream-media greenies have been desperate to besmirch his good name. They've mounted a campaign of misinformation and smear tactics against Shellenberger, all for the crime of not believing that the world is on the precipice of a mass-extinction event.

Their tactics are as old and tired as Greenpeace activists' sandals, because original thought is anathema to climate journalists, who are far more interested in telling people how awful they are for using straws than conducting actual journalism. Shellenberger's argument is simply that the climate alarmists have overdone it a bit - he doesn't deny the existence of climate change, merely that continually telling everyone they are going to die is counterproductive.

However, rather than give him a fair hearing, climate reporters have positioned themselves to portray him as self-serving, and imply that he's in some way in the pay of 'big nuclear'.

Shellenberger revealed on Twitter that a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia had tried to make it look like he had not been willing to be interviewed (he was) and then accused him of a raft of potential "conflicts of interest," all of which he had previously refuted.

Virtually simultaneously, a hack from the Aussie Guardian performed a similar tactic, making it appear as if he'd taken reasonable steps to get Shellenbeger's side of the story and yet had asked him very similar accusatory questions to those being asked by the SMH. As Shellenberger said, "Both reporters appear to be preparing identical attacks on my character." This is either indicative of a coordinated attack by these two journalists, a ridiculous level of groupthink within the environmental journalism down under, or both.

On both occasions, Shellenberger said he would be happy to make himself available, but each reporter ignored this and gave unreasonable response times, taking zero account of the 14-hour time difference between Sydney and New York. Shellenberger is still happy to speak with both reporters, yet neither have taken him up on the offer.

This is not journalism, this is activism, and it is rampant in the green movement. It is obvious in its use of the term "denier" to describe those who disagree, because even the mildest disagreement cannot be tolerated. This deification of 'The Science' as something fixed and always true has been swallowed whole by environmental reporters, who now act as little more than inquisitors to root out anyone who has blasphemed against Greta (peace be upon her). It's transparent and deserves to be called out for what it is, so, on that basis, I salute you, Sir Michael of Shellenberger!
Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall