by Hannes Wessels
At the start of panic over the Corona pandemic I pronounced myself a sceptic; not because I’m terribly clever or better informed on epidemiology or virology, but because I’d seen scientists and ‘experts’ get a lot wrong in the past and wondered aloud if this was not going to be a repeat performance; but one with far greater, and more harmful, immediate impact.
Much of my doubting frame of mind was based on what I had learned being witness to the ‘Global Warming’ alarm which also triggered a global panic with dire predictions of a looming calamity, most of which proved false. Again, I was, and remain no expert on the science, but when I saw former US Vice-President Al Gore leading the charge, and The Guardian at its bellicose best, I immediately concluded there was some left-wing mischief afoot driving an agenda for more sinister reasons and maybe I was right.
Michael Shellenberger, named Time Magazine ‘Hero of the Environment’ in 2008 and once an ‘expert reviewer’ for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion in renewable energy, has published a book titled; Apocalypse Never; Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. In an article discussing the book in Forbes Magazine (subsequently removed), Shellenberger is blunt: “On behalf of Environmentalists, I apologise for the Climate Scare.” He admits he has known the truth for some time but buttoned his lip for fear of “losing friends and funding”.
Some of the startling conclusions he reveals include:
- The Amazon is not the lungs of the world. Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon.
- Climate change is not making natural disasters worse.
- Fires have declined over 25% since 2003 and wildfires in Australia and California were as a result of a build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change.
- We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
- Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor
- The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska.
- Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s.
Some other points he makes, which I found particularly pertinent to us in Africa included:
- Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
- Wood fuel (trees felled for charcoal) is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
- The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium.
It’s no surprise that these last three facts get so little attention from the ‘Warmists’; habitat loss and decimation of wildlife in Africa is directly linked to uncontrolled population growth, incompetent land husbandry which leads to over-dependence on natural resources for food and energy leading to a destructive and unsustainable ‘slash and burn’ production cycle. But raising awareness of these real and pressing problems might also attract accusations of ‘racism’ or being possessed of a ‘colonialist mentality’ – far easier for the ‘Greenies’ to dodge them. The need to increase the use of gas and uranium in supplying our energy requires fracking and more nuclear facilities and these solutions do not fit with conventional left-wing ideology so they too have to be ignored.
Which leads to the utter confusion bedevilling much of the world today as we are ordered to ‘follow the science’, triggered by information supplied by ‘experts’, fuelled by ‘false news’ and then exploited and abused by, inevitably incompetent and sometimes, malevolent politicians and bureaucrats.
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me, the certitude forthcoming from the epidemiologists and assorted ‘experts’, that characterised the initial stages of the so-called pandemic, is no longer that obvious or convincing.
The models emanating from the vaunted, now thoroughly discredited, Imperial College of London, with Neil Ferguson at the fore, have apparently turned out to be bogus. The Americans, with Dr. Fauci in full agreement adopted a similar approach that followed the British lead with disastrous economic consequences. None of the dire predictions on which they based their response have materialised. But providing just one of many examples of a bumbling bureaucrat at work, Fauci, in his wisdom, has deemed it a health risk for Christians to attend Sunday church services and prohibited the practice, but sees no need to inhibit the infective actions of thousands of unmasked, ‘Black Lives Matters’ protestors.
In South Africa, the government response, up to a point, followed a model developed at the University of Stellenbosch headed by Professor Juliet Pullman which predicted up to 351,000 deaths and hospital admissions exceeding available beds by a large number. Again, this has turned out to be an overstated casualty rate; but it was enough for the powers that be, to orchestrate a response that has devastated the country’s economy.
Apart from getting the numbers hopelessly wrong, the experts, starting with the top people at the World Health Organisation [WHO] appear to have over estimated the virulence of the pathogen and the ability of the average healthy person’s immune system to withstand the harmful effects of infection. Fauci, at the beginning of the panic, made it quite clear, that there was no immunity against it. Some credible case studies now show, that for people under 65, the mortality rate from being infected with the virus is a mere .6%.
On the question of masks, there is no convergence of views with some insisting the wearing of them is more harmful than going without. One informed opinion is that people wearing masks should also wear helmets because statistically they have a better chance of being hit on the head by an unidentified flying object than from dying of the Corona virus. The Dutch have abandoned them.
As for the dreaded ‘lockdowns’, more and more evidence is appearing showing they have made no impact on the spread of the virus or to the mortality rate; on the contrary, they may have exacerbated the problem and increased the number of fatalities through the forced confinement of vulnerable people. In South Africa, Nick Hudson, of PANDA (Pandemic Data and Analytics), a respected think-tank looking at the statistics and evidence to hand, has found the lockdowns ‘had no effect at all’.
Sadly, it appears, the ‘experts’ have had their woeful way and visited upon the people of this world, arguably the greatest man-made, and totally avoidable calamity in history. And thus far, nary so much as an admission, let alone an apology, from one of these professional criers of “Wolf!”