..."If China burns all the coal that it is set to burn between now and 2050," Shellenberger says, "we are super-deeply fucked."...
For angry heretics on the run, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger sure know how to enjoy themselves. Sitting in a cozy Berkeley restaurant just a few blocks from San Francisco Bay, exchanging tasting notes on the vermentino ("cold white wine is so good with fatty, fried food," Shellenberger says), they recount with perverse pleasure, in tones almost as dry as the wine, how they've been branded as infidels by fellow environmentalists.
It started in 2004, when they published their first Tom Paine-style essay accusing the movement's leaders of failing to deal effectively with the global warming crisis. "We thought that someone was going to take a swing at us," Shellenberger says. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope published withering counterattacks, and the two men were dubbed "the bad boys of American environmentalism" by author Bill McKibben.
Nordhaus, 41, and Shellenberger, 36, didn't set out to infuriate their former colleagues. On the contrary, they were good Berkeley citizens — partial to black clothing, into biking (Nordhaus) and yoga (Shellenberger), fluent in pinot noir.
Above all, they were passionate about the environment. For the better part of a decade, they toiled in the green movement as consultants and political strategists, each hoping to change the world. Instead, the climate crisis changed the rules: It demanded a new way of framing the debate, and the pair became disillusioned when the environmental establishment stubbornly refused to adapt.
That led to their fateful essay, with the not-so-subtle title The Death of Environmentalism. Overnight, the two became pariahs. And now, with the October publication of their first book, Break Through: From "The Death of Environmentalism" to the Politics of Possibility, they are going to face the full fury of enraged environmentalists. Pope, who has read the book, predicts that the reception from the movement "will be harshly negative."
Break Through is a fascinating hybrid: part call to arms, part policy paper, part philosophical treatise. (Name another book that gives equal time to Nietzsche, cognitive therapy, and fuel-economy legislation.) It takes aim at some of the environmental movement's biggest lions, including Kennedy and Al Gore. It belittles the Kyoto Protocol; it rips into best- selling social critics like Thomas Frank and Jared Diamond. But it also dismisses free marketeers who believe that unfettered markets alone can solve our carbon-emission woes. "If this book doesn't piss off a whole lot of conservatives and a whole lot of liberals, we've failed," Nordhaus says....MORE