Salon excerpts Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, which attacks doomsayers of the Green persusasion in positively Ron Baileyean terms:
Environmentalist cautionary tales have had the opposite of their intended effect, provoking fatalism, conservatism, and survivalism among readers and the lay public, not the rational embrace of environmental policies. Constantly surprised and angered when people fail to behave as environmentalists would like them to, environment writers complain that the public is irrational, in denial, or just plain foolish. They presume that the failure of the public to heed their warnings says something meaningful about human nature itself, attributing humanity's disregard for Nature to desires like the lust for power and concluding that, in the end, we are all little more than reactive apes, insufficiently evolved to take the long view and understand the complexity and interconnectedness of the natural systems on which we depend….
Environmental tales of tragedy begin with Nature in harmony and almost always end in a quasi-authoritarian politics. Eco-tragic narratives diagnose human desire, aspiration, and striving to overcome the constraints of our world as illnesses to be cured or sins to be punished. They aim to short-circuit democratic values by establishing Nature as it is understood and interpreted by scientists as the ultimate authority that human societies must obey. And they insist that humanity's future is a zero-sum proposition—that there is only so much prosperity, material comfort, and modernity to go around. The story told by these eco-tragedies is not that humankind cannot stand too much reality but rather that Nature cannot stand too much humanity.
Here's a great line that could have been ripped straight out of reason:
Not only have we survived, we've thrived. Today more and more of us are "free at last"—free to say what we want to say, love whom we want to love, and live within a far larger universe of possibilities than any other generation of humans on earth.
I haven't read the whole book and am curious as to what sort of policy prescriptions the authors propose. But the attitude in this excerpt is a truly welcome relief from the human-hating animus behind much coming out of the Green community.
Hat Tip: Film critic extraordinaire Alan Vanneman.