Hayward discusses an environmental ‘reformation’

You might remember Steven Hayward’s recent presentation to the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society on the provocative theme “the death of environmentalism.”

Writing on a similar topic in the latest National Review, Hayward covers similar territory. He discusses the growth within the environmental movement of people willing to stray from longstanding environmentalist positions. Chief among those Hayward profiles are Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, whose 2007 book Break Through first broached the notion of the “death” of environmentalism and the move toward the “politics of possibility.”

Beyond the growing movement Shellenberger and Nordhaus have catalyzed, there are additional signs that at least a few within the environmental establishment are starting to have some long-overdue second thoughts. There are starting to appear serious books from major publishers that not only break with standard environmental orthodoxy but verge on outright optimism about the planet’s future. Perhaps the most surprising is British journalist Fred Pearce’s The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet’s Surprising Future. There’s not much left standing of [Thomas] Malthus and his epigones (especially Paul Ehrlich) after Pearce gets through mauling their factual and conceptual errors. And David Roberts, the deep-green writer for Grist.org who coined the term “climate hawks” to describe the most dedicated global-warming crusaders, wrote recently in The American Prospect that “after 20 years, it may be time to admit that the climate movement’s fundamental strategy, not a deficit of personal courage or heroic striving, is behind the lack of progress.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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