Ecocentric

Debating the New Environmentalism

Three of the top minds in environmentalism battle over whether the green movement needs to change.

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It’s the holiday season—or the post-holiday season—and bloggers and blog readers alike are taking some time away from the screen. But before 2012 comes to a close, I wanted to share a video that helps highlight some of the issues about environmentalism that I’ve discussed recently—including in my essay on the Anthropocene and the environmental movement.

This clips comes from a panel I hosted at the SXSW Eco conference in Austin, back in October. 350org founder Bill McKibben, National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute came together to debate the new environmentalism. Which is… what exactly? That’s the point. My panelists couldn’t agree whether we actually even need a new environmentalism, let alone just what form it might take, but I still think this panel is as good an intro as you can get into a debate that the green movement can’t avoid. Enjoy.

16 comments
RussFinley
RussFinley

I don't know. McKibben reminds me of a televangelist. Reality takes second fiddle to the message. I parsed this video over on Consumer Energy Report. Google: "What do global warming  skeptics fear?"

JohnDPMorgan
JohnDPMorgan

.@kirstygogan @Ben_Heard_DSA “New Environmentalism” should be the same as old: same values, same goals. But the means change with the times.

csiroperfidy
csiroperfidy

@kirstygogan @TIME In Australia, both the greens (people) and The Greens (political party) aren't even trying.

JKBullis
JKBullis

Bryan Walsh,

I wish you would tell your web page editors to allow a reasonably sustained thought to be handled in one comment block.

Limiting comments as you do is a way to favor the fringes who are adept at slinging slogans at each other.

JKBullis
JKBullis

Bryan Walsh,

(1)
Thanks for demonstrating why the advocacy style of debate used by the 'movement', as McKibben calls his campaign, has been losing. Unfortunately, it did not appear that Bill McKibben had a ghost of a notion of what Ted Nordhaus was trying to tell him. Thus, there was really not much of a debate.

Perhaps I could add the point that part of the failure of the 'movement' is the willingness to lie, and though it may spring from honest zealotry, it is no way to appeal to the mid- road reasonable folk of the world. In fact, it casts doubt on the veracity of the science.


McKibben demonstrated one of the favorite semi-lies about the effects of CO2, that being that the ocean is, "30% more acid." Here he compounds gibberish with non-science by jumping to a percentage scale which does not mean much for measuring acid, instead of using the pH scale which is a logarithmic numerical scale method. The non-science is the fact that the oceans are generally alkaline, being far into the region where that is the correct designation.

JKBullis
JKBullis

(2)

It is possible, even reasonable, to use an acidity scale for the entire range, so saying acidification has increased is technically correct in a very narrowly drawn sense. Though misleading, one can take a correct position saying that there has been increased acidification which makes the ocean water solution more acidic. However, when a zealot like McKibben comes along, who is inclinded to play to ignorance of the population, he states the '30% more acid' nonsense. This invokes the image that in the near future our children swimming in the ocean will have their eyes burned out. And though the word distinctions seem minor, they slip a deliberate attempt to mislead with technically correct terminology into a definite falsehood.

This is not a lie though if it is based on ignorance.

But thanks for trying.


mem_somerville
mem_somerville

Hmm. Quite a...er...light group, all with Y chromosomes. I love the diversity of voices there.

kirstygogan
kirstygogan

@JohnDPMorgan @ben_heard_dsa Hah! Yes. Except I'd call for more evidence-based pragmatism in the driving seat & less ideology.

kirstygogan
kirstygogan

@csiroperfidy @time Troubles me that many Greens & greens (!) are ideologically opposed to real pragmatic solutions to cc eg gas and nuclear

mem_somerville
mem_somerville

Ok, had a chance to watch it now. What was the "new" part? I must have missed it. Mostly it seemed to me a platform for McKibben's campaign. 


(I think I did hear the words "technology" and "nuclear" once, but I note that didn't get the level of applause that "no fracking" did.)

JohnDPMorgan
JohnDPMorgan

@kirstygogan @Ben_Heard_DSA That’s for sure.

csiroperfidy
csiroperfidy

@kirstygogan @TIME gas isn't a solution. Email me at geoffrey.russell@gmail.com and I'll send details.

JKBullis
JKBullis

@csiroperfidy Since you gave a single number for gas we can be sure you are incorrect, without having to look it up.  Fact is that peaker natural gas plants are about half as efficient 28% as combined cycle natural gas are 55% maybe, sometimes.   Either system can be above 90% efficient as a system, if used in a well designed cogeneration arrangement.  

This could be a satisfactory path to an actually low CO2 world if the abundance of natural gas proves to be a truly available resource. 

It is a leap to explain it in twit, but it could be done with the right kind of automobiles as well.

csiroperfidy
csiroperfidy

@kirstygogan @TIME Gas is 450 g-co2/kwh, but we need <100 g-co2/kwh. Choice:1) nuclear now or 2) gas now, throw away, then nuclear? c email

kirstygogan
kirstygogan

@csiroperfidy @time Gas beats coal, though nuclear & renewables beat both. In transition to zero carbon, gas can replace coal. Will email!