Tag: Ted Nordnaus

Making Clean Energy Cheap. Spend More, Barack Obama

In Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, eco-contrarians Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger have weighed in again with an essay that deserves a lot of attention. The two first stepped into the limelight four years ago this month with the publication of their paper The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World. The flak started bursting before the ink was dry. Bill McKibben labeled them “the bad boys of American environmentalism,” and there were hot critiques by green notables and both alternative and mainstream media. Then, too, quite a lot of praise, both from the left and right.

Three years ago this month, they published the book version of their heretical paper, Breakthrough: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. If it could be synopsized into a single sentence, that might be: Though their hearts are in the right place, much of what eco-advocates are doing is wrong and, for everybody’s sake, they need to develop a new paradigm that will create a new, green economy that will ultimately do more to protect the environment that what they’re doing now.

Naturally, some environmentalists had a problem with that argument. But many also agreed with it, or half-agreed. And the debate has been going on ever since. Nordhaus and Shellenberger didn’t just talk, they co-founded the Apollo Alliance in 2003, a union-backed coalition with green-minded people put together with the idea that the right energy plan combined with the right attack on global warming could make for a lot of good things, including a rejuvenation of the well-paying manufacturing sector that continues to bleed jobs overseas. That same year they started the Breakthrough Institute, where the motto is “The Era of Small Thinking is Over.”