Dead of environmentalism

Structured around the thesis that environmentalism has become little more than the ineffective expression of a special interest group grown fat on easy grant funding, the essay “Dead of Environmentalism” created some controversy among environmental leaders. The essay’s authors, Michael Schellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, claim that the once robust political support for environmental issues has weakened considerably since its peak in the 1970s. They claim that early success spoiled the movement’s leadership to such an extent that only in death can there be new life: “We have become convinced that modern environmentalism, with all of its unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts and exhausted strategies, must die so that something new can live.” Schellenberger and Nordhaus argue that environmentalism, with its traditional reliance on technical solutions, is poorly equipped to tackle massive global problems, especially climate change. Years of legislative and legal victories don’t measure up, they say, when compared with the failure to provide a comprehensive, inspiring, values-based vision. Perhaps the environmental movement as we have known it is dead. Perhaps, as Mark Twain would say, “the news of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
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