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Why We Can't Leave the Planet to the Environmentalists

May 6, 2009

Michael Shellenberger, political strategist

Environmental provocateur, Micheal Shellenberger, asks whether American climate change policy is moving in the right direction. The cap-and-trade model for regulatory legislation is based on economic assumptions that have shattered in the current economic crisis. Now Shellenberger questions whether dirty energy can ever be made expensive enough. How, instead, can we make clean energy cheap?

In 2004 Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger published the hotly-debated The Death of Environmentalism, which argued that environmentalism could not deal with global warming and should die so a new politics could be born. They greatly expand this argument in their new book, Break Through: Why We Can't Leave the Planet to the Environmentalists, arguing that pollution limits are woefully inadequate, both politically and technologically. What is the emerging climate consensus? How will this consensus be expressed in President Obama's plans? How do they see energy as becoming both green and cheap?

Michael Shellenberger is a political strategist and opinion researcher. He is a co-founder with Ted Nordhaus of American Environics, a research and strategy firm, and the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank. Shellenberger, in 2003, co-founded the Apollo Alliance, a call for a new Apollo project that has now become one of President Obama's top domestic priorities. He has done research on privacy funded by Robert Wood Johnson, climate change and energy funded by Nathan Cummings Foundation, voting rights funded by Ford Foundation, and health funded by AARP.