J500 Media and the Environment

Call 9-1-1 We’ve Got a Dying Movement! by travisjbrown
February 5, 2008, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Society + Media

The first time I saw the title of Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus’s book The Death of Environmentalism, I was surprised by the boldness of these two green Nietzsche’s. That seemed like an awfully silly statement. It seems as if the green movement is everywhere. It’s on campus, in the news, on our favorite TV shows, and it’s even seeping it’s way into our once-viewed-as-evil corporations (now, maybe just evil corporations who are greenwashing). Heck, I can even drink beer and feel less guilty than I did a year ago.

So how could environmentalism be dying?

Well ‘dems be some purty strong words. It might be a little overboard to use the word “dying” as if to infer that soon their will no longer be environmentalism. But Shellenberger and Nordhaus are pretty right-on with some of their points. Government decision-making seems to move at sloth pace, especially when it comes to issues about the environment. And policies are far to simple. It is as if we make one law that will benefit one problem of one issue of one side of one area of global warming and it’s a major environmental breakthrough. At this rate, we will never undergo the change we need in order to save the environment.

Death is a little much. But maybe Shellenberger and Nordhaus were right to rattle the cage a little. Green needed a wake-up call.

-Travis Brown


5 Comments so far
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This whole “environmentalism is dead” movement seems to want to neglect the use of policy makers in eliciting the sort of transformative change people like Shellenberger, Nordhaus, and Werbach promote. This seems to fly in the face a little bit to the views expressed by Thomas Friedman in last week’s NPR interview where Friedman asserts that standards breed innovation and innovation fosters cleaner technology. It seems to me that tougher standards can only be brought about by some sort of policy measure (emission cuts, subsidies etc.) I’m curious to know what the conversation between Friedman and the EID movement would look like.

Vince M

Comment by vincemeserko

I agree with you about needing a wake-up call. It’s one thing to make a list of all the great things you are doing to help the environment, but it’s another thing to make a list and not take action. The sloth-like pace of environmental action puts a lot of people off and makes them think, “who cares? I’ll be dead before this is over.” As dramatic as the authors’ speech was, I think it was a great fire to light under the butts of policymakers 🙂

Kim Wallace

Comment by kimwallace

I would agree by saying the word ‘death’ is a bit drastic. Instead of death, maybe a wake up call is needed to remind everyone that maybe some action needs to be taken. Actions certainly speak louder than words. It is true that some of us may not be around when we see this improvements in our world, but what about the future generations? Isn’t it a bit selfish to think even though it may not be benefiting us that it won’t be beneficial to anyone at all?

Dena H

Comment by denah

I love what is said here: that the furious debate around “Death” was a sign that environmentalism was alive and kicking. But what was left out of this conversation? (A hint: read the link.)

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

What really fascinates me about Michael Gelobter’s response to “The Death of Environmentalism”, is that it has a well-developed solution. It is important that environmental writers and leaders illuminate us as to what we are doing wrong collectively and individually. But even more focus should be put on what we can do.

-Travis Brown

Comment by travisjbrown

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