Standing Athwart Apocalyptic Visions Is Useful but Not Enough
There is a consistent apocalyptic strain in modern environmentalism. This is a feature and a bug. On the one hand, sounding ecological alarms has, at times, seemed to spur policy responses. On the other hand, when exaggerated appeals are proven false, it can undermine environmentalists’ credibility and discourage environmental concern.
Apocalyptic environmentalism is the primary target of Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. This book, which I reviewed for the Winter issue of Regulation, is very effective at debunking alarmist scares and identifying actual environmental problems, and is appropriately bullish economic and technological development. This makes it worth a read. Unfortunately, it is unduly focused on the promise of nuclear power to deliver a low-carbon future, and spends too little time exploring what sorts of policies and institutional reforms are most conducive to technological innovation and ecological conservation.
Here is a taste of my review:
Growth and technology are often conceived as environmental p
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