Responding To Manzi

A reader writes:

Manzi is, from what I've read of his stuff (and I haven't read it all), absolutely right.  Pure cap-and-trade/regulatory programs, including Kyoto, are basically worthless and dead.  I say this as a flaming leftist environmentalist, but it wasn't Manzi who convinced me.  It was Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, in their 2004 essay(pdf), "The Death of Environmentalism."  The pair has since gone on to write a follow-up book and maintain a blog, but for a quick introduction the original essay is a 30 minute read and worth every minute.

The core premise is that the model of environmentalism that emerged from the 70s was all about a combination of saying "no" to various forms of pollution and building regulatory structures.  At all points, economic expansion was seen as a problem, not as a benefit.  All of this has failed miserably to do anything about global warming, for which we've had good evidence for 15 years.

S&N argue that fundamentally, climate change remediation simply won't happen until it's tied to a program for job creation, economic growth, and a vision of a future that doesn't solely focus on a better environment, but also focuses on a better life for us all.  Here, they and Manzi agree.

Where they depart, and where you'll probably get indigestion, is in that they recommend a strong program of environmentally advantageous economic stimuli, from a national sustainable energy initiative, state investment in rail infrastructure, and a general focus on investment over regulation.

So add another argument into the mix.  There's the old debate, with the Lieberman-Warner mess on one end, still trying to use the techniques that fought acid rain and smog on global warming, and the deniers on the other end covering their ears and screaming.  The new debate has Manzi on one end saying, "it can't be done, so quit trying," and Shellenberger and Nordhaus on the end saying, "proper government investment means economic growth and greenhouse reductions."  My guess is that by the time 2012 rolls around and we're doing this Presidential thing all over again, we'll be thoroughly ensconced in the new debate.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Just In