I have never understood what people find appealing about the work of Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. It seems to me like empty contrarianism, the Mickey Kaus of environmentalism. They’re like two guys trying so desperately to stand the conventional wisdom on its head that they end up dropping it, breaking it, hastily gluing it back together, and pronouncing: ta-da! Take this little insight from their piece in the current TNR:
Despite the rhetoric about “one planet,” not all humans have the same interests when it comes to addressing global warming. Greens often note that the changing global climate will have the greatest impact on the world’s poor; they neglect to mention that the poor also have the most to gain from development fueled by cheap fossil fuels like coal. For the poor, the climate is already dangerous. They are already subject to the droughts, floods, hurricanes, and diseases that future warming will intensify. It is their poverty, not rising carbon-dioxide levels, that make them more vulnerable than the rest of us. By contrast, it is the richest humans–those of us who have achieved comfort, prosperity, and economic security for ourselves and for our children–who have the most to lose from the kind of apocalyptic global-warming scenarios that have so often been invoked in recent years. The existential threat so many of us fear is that we might all end up in a kind of global Somalia characterized by failed states, resource scarcity, and chaos. It is more than a little ironic that at the heart of the anti-modern green discourse resides the fear of losing our modernity.
What is that supposed to mean? The reason the poor are more vulnerable is because…they’re poor? Nordhaus and Shellenberger get so twisted up trying to construct a paradox that they end up restating the obvious.
5 Comments so far
Leave a comment