Policy and a Pint: The Death of Environmentalism

In their 2004 essay, "The Death of Environmentalism," Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus argue that in order for green activists to protect the land, old, outdated modes of thinking about "environmentalism" have to die. Environmentalism, they suggest, has become another special interest, trapped in an ultimately ineffective cycle of lobbying, fundraising, and grassroots organizing. The problems in the movement start with the most basic questions of what the environment is. Does it include humans or not? What is the root cause of global warming? Every aspect of the green movement has to be re-examined, they claim, to include a broader understanding of the environment. Beyond that, they suggest, environmentalists have to start looking at new, sweeping solutions that embrace rather than squelch economic development. The essay created controversy and now, three years later, some critics have said that Shellenberger and Nordhaus's predictions were wrong. Others suggest that their book, Break Through, which expands the original essay, is the next Silent Spring.
Tue., Oct. 16, 5:30 p.m., 2007

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