We're All Environmentalists Now: It Isn't Environmentalism That Died. What Expired Was Progressive Politics Based on Single-Issue Interest Groups
Schmitt, Mark, The American Prospect
FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY, "The Death of Environmentalism" hit last year with the force of a tsunami, leaving its audience so taken aback by its sweeping, cocksure condemnation of their decades of selfless struggle that they could barely think about it rationally, even when they accepted its basic truth.
On the other hand, among progressives who don't situate their lives primarily in the world of the greens, the essay crept to attention more slowly, rather like global warming itself. Almost a year later, I am still periodically sent a copy, along with a breathless "Have you read this?" note. Not only did I read it, I point out; I tried to call attention to it outside the environmental community back in March, predicting that "it may be the most powerful and lasting of the very many 'What's wrong with the left?' documents of the George W. Bush era."
Rereading the essay after a year, it seems even clearer that "The Death of Environmentalism" was less a condemnation of the environmental movement than a call to all progressives to think more like environmentalists--and for professional environmentalists to think less like Washington lobbyists. The essay's greatest gift was its critique of "policy literalism," the process by which activists identify a distinct problem, define it as an "environmental" one, seek the proximate cause, propose a solution, and then mobilize their experts, their lobbyists, and their public-relations machines around that solution.
In the most provocative section of their essay, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, proposed that rather than defining the problem of global warming as "too …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: We're All Environmentalists Now: It Isn't Environmentalism That Died. What Expired Was Progressive Politics Based on Single-Issue Interest Groups. Contributors: Schmitt, Mark - Author. Magazine title: The American Prospect. Volume: 16. Issue: 10 Publication date: October 2005. Page number: A8+. © 1999 The American Prospect, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.