Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Techno-Optimistic Environmentalism

Ron Bailey is probably not a genius. You could, however, argue that his writing is above average, and get no dissention from me.

From Reason Online:

In their 2004 essay "The Death of Environmentalism," activists Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus famously declared, "We have become convinced that modern environmentalism, with all of its unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts and exhausted strategies, must die so that something new can live."

What killed environmentalism? Man-made global warming. The pair argued that the problem of global warming is too big to be handled by green incrementalism. Switching to bioethanol and compact fluorescent lighting simply won't do. Something much bigger is needed. And they argued that modern environmentalism was not up to the task.

They blamed environmentalism's political ineffectiveness on the fact that environmentalists were perceived as being little more than another special interest group. In addition, the two excoriated movement activists for their "failure to articulate an inspiring and positive vision." Environmentalists turned off possible supporters because they were invested in telling the public doom-and-gloom "I have a nightmare" stories rather than delivering "I have a dream" speeches.

For Shellenberger and Nordhaus, the huge problem of global warming offers an opportunity to escape the green ghetto. Global warming is a poverty problem, a jobs problem, a food problem, an industrial problem, and an energy problem as well as an ecological problem. In their analysis, when environmentalists called for raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, they didn't seek solutions that would also work for industry and unions. This political cluelessness means that CAFE standards have not been raised for over 30 years....MORE