Michael Shellenberger - Writings

Writings

In 2004, Nordhaus and Shellenberger, both long-time strategists for environmental groups, co-authored a controversial essay, "The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World." The paper argues that environmentalism is conceptually and institutionally incapable of dealing with climate change and should "die" so that a new politics can be born. The essay was debated, and continues to be widely discussed and taught

In, 2007, Houghton Mifflin published Nordhaus and Shellenberger's Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Wired Magazine called Break Through "the most important thing to happen to environmentalism since Silent Spring." The book is an argument for what its authors describe as a positive, "post-environmental" politics that abandons the environmentalist focus on nature protection for a new focus on technological innovation to create a new economy. Time Magazine named Nordhaus and Shellenberger two of its 32 Heroes of the Environment (2008) calling Break Through "prescient" for its prediction that climate policy should focus not on making fossil fuels expensive through regulation but rather on making clean energy cheap. Break Through was awarded the Green Book Award, 2009, whose other recipients include E.O. Wilson and James Hansen.

Their writings have focused on the intersection of climate change, energy innovation, and politics. The two predicted the failure of cap and trade for its focus on making fossil fuels expensive rather than on technology innovation to make clean energy cheap. They faulted the Kyoto climate treaty for being focused on what they called "shared sacrifice" rather than shared technological innovation. They have criticized green cultural life as a consequence of status anxieties among Western consumers. And they have argued for a "theology" of ecological modernization that embraces technological innovation and human development.

Nordhaus and Shellenberger have argued for a "climate pragmatism" and an embrace of modernization and human development. They are co-authors of an alternative framework to the United Nations process focused on energy innovation, pollution control and adaptation.

In 2011, Nordhaus and Shellenberger started The Breakthrough Journal, which The New Republic called "among the most complete efforts to provide a fresh answer" to the question of how to modernize liberal thought, and The National Review called "...the most promising effort at self-criticism by our liberal cousins in a long time."

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