Sunday, October 30, 2016

Same old my way or the highway

This time from Peter Dauvergne's book Environmentalism of the Rich. This Nature review by Edward Humes has the goods:


The book reserves its harshest criticisms for environmental organizations and public figures (including, jarringly, primatologist Jane Goodall) for extolling such environmentalism as a source of optimism. And he makes a leap, arguing that the environmentalism of the rich saps the energy and outrage that drive protest, and encourages complacency.

This is where Dauvergne muddles his case. It is one thing to say that we have little reason to be optimistic. It's another to assert baldly, and with no real data, that the business world's new-found interest in sustainability is interfering with old-school activism. Elsewhere in the book, Dauvergne concedes that recycling, organic and sustainable products, and coalitions that certify sustainable seafood and forestry are making a positive contribution....What his evidence really shows is not that an interest in sustainable products is harming the environmental movement, but that it's not enough. Nor is activism, regulation or the combination of all three. Dauvergne is correct that making consumer products less bad doesn't make them good. He just can't admit what seems obvious to others: it's a start.

The obvious parallel that Humes also calls out is Naomi Klein's misnamed book, This Changes Everything, a book about climate change that changed nothing for her prescription for society in general, other than to add non-radical environmentalists to her bad people list.

Eli and I both have made clear we weren't impressed, although a while ago I admitted I hadn't actually read her book. Rabett Reader John Puma was kind enough to send me a copy (he and I have very different views of it, and I hope he shares his).

I had the book for a while, painfully read about a third of it, put it down a year ago and have been looking guiltily at the cover ever since. I need to cut bait here and admit I'm not going to finish it, but what I read doesn't change my impression from other reviews. I had other critiques too that I've since blanked out, but mainly I'll add that she doesn't adequately wrestle with rapidly declining costs of renewable energy and power storage as factors that could make zero to net-negative emissions possible after mid-century, even in a fairly capitalist world.

For better or worse I should add that I know people in The Nature Conservancy (heavily criticized by Klein) and work with them on projects in Northern California, and at least here, she doesn't know what she's talking about IMNSHO.

Anyway, Klein's book isn't doing anyone a service lying mostly unread on my floor. I'll pay John Puma's favor forward:  any prior Rabett commenter (commented at least once before in the last 6 months, say) living in the U.S. who wants it, just leave a comment and I'll mail it to you. We can communicate offline to arrange details.

One final thought - I see a parallel here to many of the lukewarmers, for whom the science is accurate only up to the point at which it essentially forces a policy choice that they don't like, and then the science in their opinion suddenly veers in a different direction. For Klein (and I'll bet Dauvergne) to find that the science of climate change miraculously leads to the conclusion they already supported for other reasons, should be suspicious. Maybe they should reflect a bit.

9 comments:

Russell Seitz said...

Klein fails to grasp the passion with which conservatives view the conservation of nature as an avatar of things that must remain the same if they are to change.

Somebody should send her a copy of Jose' Ortega y Gasset's On Hunting .

Fernando Leanme said...

You need to get over the mental hump that "the science forces a choice". Science forces nothing, it delivers an incomplete product which needs to be finished by engineers, economists, politicians. One reason why I laugh at guys like Mann and Hansen is their clear ignorance of this simple fact, which keeps them in Narnia as far as I'm concerned. Regarding Naomi Klein, she's a communist. This means most of what she writes is bilge water.

Russell Seitz said...

Regular dialectician, inne?

Klein's views prosper because wannabe Vargas Llosas & De Sotos like Fernando forget that materialism is much too important to be left to the Marxists.

Go write a letter to the Graun or the NYRB for a change.

Fernando Leanme said...

I already submitted my essay "The new poor working class will destroy the established order" to the New York Review of Books, but they wanted me to edit out "explode into the air" from a key sentence. Then I submitted it to The Daily Worker and they never answered. I had hoped to get it published, become famous, and have a triumphant tour using Al Gore as my warm up act.

E. Swanson said...

Fernando may appreciate this discussion of humanity's future as we are now past Peak (conventional) Oil:

https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2016/10/why-the-global-economy-will-disintegrate-rapidly/

The link leads to a re-post of 1 part of a 3 part article. Such questions were often discussed on the old site, The Oil Drum, before the anti-AGW folks managed to shut it down. Lots of discussion of "Net Energy" and EROEI back then, a subject since lost in the haze of the recent oil glut. But, we know that physics and geology rule, not economics or politics...

Russell Seitz said...

I'm afraid we're well past Peak Ortega y Gasset

Tom said...

"One final thought - I see a parallel here to many of the lukewarmers, for whom the science is accurate only up to the point at which it essentially forces a policy choice that they don't like, and then the science in their opinion suddenly veers in a different direction."

Tsk, tsk. How unbecoming, such prevarication... And you claim to be a scientist...

Brian said...

Read the post a little more closely, Tom. I don't claim to be a scientist.

Russell Seitz said...

"The obvious parallel that Humes also calls out is Naomi Klein's misnamed book, This Changes Everything, a book about climate change that changed nothing for her prescription for society in general, other than to add non-radical environmentalists to her bad people list."

Is she following the 'Troglodyte Narrative" in Podesta's playbook, or is it the orther way around ?