Sunday, October 28, 2007

Break Through

In this time of blogs, google searches and YouTube, I am going to suggest that everyone read a book, or at least the introduction and first chapter... confident that you will then read the rest. The book is entitled Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility.

The authors, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, had earlier published a long and pretty controversial essay entitled The Death of Environmentalism. This is an expansion of that work, but even for those who have read the book are are familiar with the controversy it raised, approach this version with an open mind. It does break new ground and, given the larger scope of a book, allows them to marshal more facts to back up their argument.

Both the essay, linked above, and the book begin with the premise that "Over the last 15 years environmental foundations and organizations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into combating global warming. We have strikingly little to show for it."

They argue that the environmental movement does not understand its own history, that the mythology of the environmental challenge to pollution is just that, a myth devised to explain what was not properly understood. Even more persuasively, using the survey methods of the social scientist, they try to account for the reasons why impending ecological disaster is not a strong motivational force as people approach the task of voting.

Whether or not you end up agreeing with Nordhaus and Shellenberger, and I most do agree, the questions they raise must be answered by the GPCA if we are to be successful. It is clear that the Democratic Party will not respond in the manner they they would like, especially if the next election brings us a Centrist president like Hillary. They also provide a reasoned explanation as to why Republicans are more successful than Democrats in articulating their environmental viewpoint in a way that resonated with the voters.

When I first heard of this book, I checked my public library for a copy. It was not in their collection. So, I requested that they order it, citing it's importance to today's environmental battles. They did and thankfully, when it arrived, they gave me the first shot to read it.

I will continue to develop and articulate what I believe to be the fundamental strategy that must be adopted by the Green Party is we are to become effective in dealing with the raft of ecological (note I did not say environmental) problems that we face today.

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