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24.1.05

Mistaken Obituaries

I finally got around to reading the infamous Death of Environmentalism paper, and I have to say that I don't get what the big fuss is. The authors, Shellenberger and Nordhaus, argue in the specific case of environmentalism what every left-leaning pundit (and many right-leaning ones) has argued about the Democratic party, and liberalism in general, since November 3. The problem is an excess of piecemeal wonkery, and the solution is a grand vision.

The title is somewhat misleading, because the picture Shellenberger and Nordhaus paint of the environmental movement is not of a movement that is dead and whose ultimate goals must be abandoned. Rather, they argue that the movement is stagnant and ineffective as it is currently constituted. And while harshly critical of the narrowness of environmentalism as we know it, they strongly urge a reformulation of vision as part of a revived progressive coalition -- and even point to some examples of current initiatives that are moving in the right direction.

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