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The Death of Environmentalism?

March 11, 2007

Some have claimed that American environmentalism has lost its intellectual credibility and political effectiveness and stands in need of fundamental change. Is there scholarly and pragmatic justification for this charge? If so, what new ideas and strategies would inform this postenvironmentalist future?

In early October, Lewis & Clark hosted its ninth annual Environmental Affairs Symposium, which featured a variety of scholarly perspectives on major questions facing contemporary environmentalism. Speakers included Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, who delivered the keynote address, “The Death of Environmentalism and the Politics of Overcoming.” (Their address can be viewed via the Web at the URL listed to the right.)

Shellenberger is codirector of the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank, and cofounder of American Environics, a research and strategy firm. Nordhaus, a managing partner at American Environics, is an author, researcher, and political strategist. Their new book, The Death of Environmentalism and the Birth of a New Aspirational Politics, is slated for publication by Houghton Mifflin in fall 2007.

In addition, the symposium featured vigorous academic debate by area faculty members, students, and environmental professionals on six topics: Environmentalism: Birth, Death, and Future; Climate: Time for a Change?; Saving Species: Reconsidering Conservation in the Pacific Northwest; Whose Nature? Taming a Wild Idea; Local and Global: Rethinking Place; and New Political Strategies.

The symposium is organized each year by students and faculty of Lewis & Clark’s environmental studies program.

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