Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nordhaus and Shellenberger are not environmentalists (1)

Excerpts, part 1, "The Enemy Within," by Mike Roselle, Lowbagger:

The Death of Environmentalism [by Ted Nordhaus and Steve Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute] was a broadside at the conservation movement disguised as friendly criticism from veteran strategists. Our tactics, which were indeed coercive and confrontational, were ultimately successful. We wanted to forge a new conservation movement that would fight, not roll over, to defend the natural world from industrial development. ...

Breakthrough wants to define a new environmental movement, broader in scope and more willing to come up with solutions and work with businesses to implement them. They suggest we abandon our efforts to get new laws or to use the courts to enforce existing laws, arguing that saving nature is for elitists who don't care for the plight of the poor and the oppressed. ...

According to Breakthrough we need new ones. And so they are going after that well known elitist, demon, plutocrat, Yankee, robber-baron, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. They’re mad because he wrote a widely published op-ed opposing the Cape Wind project, a group of 130 windmills to be built in Nantucket Sound. Kennedy's opposition was for environmental reasons, which he laid out in his article. This large-scale industrial wind farm is being supported by the Breakthrough Institute and, for some unexplained reason, by other environmental organizations like Greenpeace. It is planned for a popular recreation area, an important fishery and wildlife preserve, not to mention near a busy ship channel. We could certainly disagree about whether or not this was the only possible location for a project that would help stop global warming, or about its environmental impacts, but in his response Shellenberger goes further, and suggests any opposition to the project is from rich and famous celebrities on Martha's Vineyard, similar NIMBY's, or environmental extremists.

I had previously read Kennedy's editorial and found it very convincing. It was written in the language of conservation. He mentions the importance of wilderness and wildlife habitat. [H]e described what he thought were the negative impacts of the proposed project. [T]here were no personal attacks and it was a simple appeal to find a better location. It was a passionate argument against an industrial development ...

The response from the Breakthrough Institute and from a Greenpeace "Energy Campaigner” was swift and personal. Not to mention highly technical and legalistic. Some of the arguments in favor of wind derricks are strikingly similar to Ted Stevens's arguments in favor of derricks in the Arctic. They also avoided the central points of Kennedy's arguments by casting aspersions against his integrity. They never mentioned wilderness or wildlife as a value to be cherished. They state flat out that this project won't affect wildlife or the solitude of the area, and would even be an improvement. They accuse Kennedy of "threatening what is arguably the most important clean energy development in the world while encouraging the already substantial public perception that environmentalists are elitists who only care about protecting their own private playgrounds." ...

I don't have as much money as Bobby Kennedy, but I too have been called an elitist and a NIMBY. So now we have something in common other that our rugged good looks and love for running wild rivers. As far as being an elitist goes, if you are a Kennedy living on Martha's Vineyard, you pretty much have to prepare yourself for that one. But was he really a self-interested, vicious liar who couldn't give a rat's ass for the Earth and who doesn't care about global warming at all? ...

If I were going to award points on poise and style, Robert F. Kennedy would win this one hands down. But I will flat out say it is hypocritical of the Breakthrough Institute for criticizing the environmental movement for demonizing our opponents on one day and then to come back and personally attack Robert Kennedy and other environmentalist the next day and accuse them of being elitists, liars and a threat to the movement.

[F]rom an environmentalist's perspective, large-scale industrial development is not the solution, but is the problem itself. Windmills, although better than oil wells, are no panacea for the energy crisis. We are brushing up against the limits of what the natural resources of this planet will support, and a headlong rush into alternative energy production will not affect global warming unless some aggressive steps are also taken soon to address our overall growth and energy consumption in the so-called developed world. Otherwise, we will have wind farms and solar collectors all over the countryside trying to replace energy consumption that in the beginning was subsidized by burning copious amounts of forests and fossil fuel.

... [I]f we are to settle for large-scale industrial wind and solar projects, the threat of global warming should not be used as an excuse to trample the last good places for recreation or wildlife. It is hard to believe that suddenly the only place suitable for wind generators is also a place that has been considered for a wildlife refuge for endangered whales.

[Click here for part 2]

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, ecoanarchism, animal rights