Synopses & Reviews
Current tactics can't solve today's complex global crises. The "bad boys of environmentalism" call for a bold and empowering new vision.
Environmental insiders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus triggered a firestorm of controversy with their self-published essay "The Death of Environmentalism," which argued that environmentalism cannot deal with global warming and should die so that a new politics can be born. Global warming is far more complex than past pollution problems, and American values have changed dramatically since the movement's greatest victories in the 1960s, but environmentalists keep fighting the same old battles. Seeing a connection between the failures of environmentalism and the failures of the entire left-leaning political agenda, the authors point the way toward an aspirational politics that will resonate with modern American values and be capable of tackling our most pressing challenges.
In this eagerly awaited follow-up to the original essay, the authors give us an expansive and eloquent manifesto for political change. What Americans really want, and what could serve as the basis for a new politics, is a vision capable of inspiring us to greatness. Making the case for abandoning old categories (nature/market, left/right), the authors articulate a pragmatism fit for our times that has already found champions in such prominent figures as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
This book will hit the same nerve as What's the Matter with Kansas and Don't Think of an Elephant. But its analysis will reshape American politics for decades to come.
"Three years after their contentious, seminal essay 'The Death of Environmentalism' advocated a radical reassessment of the global warming delimma, career environmental activists Nordhaus and Shellenberger present the book version, which mines post-materialist thought for solutions that fall somewhere between the death threats and band-aid solutions they say are currently masquerading as debate and progress. Arguing that preservation requires something 'qualitatively different from limiting our contamination of nature,' Nordhaus and Shellenberger contend that, as Americans, we must collectively sacrifice our standard of living to reverse the inevitable, a seemingly impossible but necessary task in a nation plagued by affluence envy and credit card debt. Referencing a wide array of current political and environmental work, Nordhaus and Shellenberger show how current pop-environmentalism (think Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth) is mired in a 'pollution paradigm... profoundly inadequate for understanding and dealing with global warming.' True progress, they contend, requires embracing a pragmatic approach to the constantly changing world, rather than a stubborn belief that 'all things have an essential unchanging nature' which can be protected or restored. Though their plan to sell the largest middle class in history on 'a new vision of prosperity' (defining wealth by 'overall well-being') seems like a long shot, their big-picture ideas are important and intensely argued, making this a convincing, resonant and hopeful primer on 'postenvironmentalism.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The book reads like a collection of interrelated essays; too bad the authors' vision is fleshed out only in the last chapter." Library Journal
In this eagerly awaited follow-up to the authors original, controversial essay, "The Death of Environmentalism," Shellenberger and Nordhaus present an expansive and eloquent manifesto for political change.
Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger triggered a firestorm with the publication of Break Through, contending that the politics that dealt with acid rain and smog cant deal with global warming.The nations that ratified the Kyoto protocol have seen their greenhouse gas emissions go up, not down. And the destruction of tropical rain forests, a key driver of global warming, has accelerated.What todays ecological crises demand, say the authors, is not that we constrain human power but rather unleash it.We must go beyond interest group environmentalism and liberalism to create a politics focused as much on uncommon greatness as on the common good. To win,Nordhaus and Shellenberger persuasively argue, environmentalists must stop congratulating themselves for their own willingness to confront inconvenient truths and must focus on building a politics of shared hope rather than relying on a politics of fear” (New York Times Book Review).
Break Through is the first step in a new progressive movement that will influence the political debate for years to come.
Table of Contents
Introduction: From the Nightmare to the Dream 1
Part I: The Politics of Limits 1. The Birth of Environmentalism 21 2. The Forest for the Trees 41 3. Interests Within Interests 66 4. The Prejudice of Place 89 5. The Pollution Paradigm 105 6. The Death of Environmentalism 130
Part II: The Politics of Possibility 7. Status and Security 157 8. Belonging and Fulfillment 188 9. Pragmatism 216 10. Greatness 241
In Gratitude 274 Notes 278 Bibliography 322 Index 333