Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anti-Environmentalism: Prometheans, Contrarians and Beyond

Bjorn Lomborg is a political scientist and statistician. In 2001 he published The Skeptical Environmentalist. In this paper, he writes that the main reason for people believing that the global environment is in such a bad state is that environmental groups have been exaggerating just how bad the environmental problems are. He also argued that on a global scale, the statistics on environmental trends is much less extreme than what these groups would have us believe.
White, et al discuss that there are four main groups that attempt to discount environmental movements. One is neo-classical economists. These people look at the environmental movements from an economical point of view. They argue that the problems that everyone claims are facing the environment are really not as bad as they say. They argue that being more environmentally friendly would cost too much money and would not help the economy. Lomborg fits into this group.

The next group is the skeptics of the Limits to Growth report. They use the argument that a computer model could not possibly predict human behavior or advances in technology. The Marxists thought the environmental groups were elitist. The new left is the final group. They would also argue for social ecology.

While some of these groups have some valid points, they do not have enough evidence to support their claims that the environment is not as bad as people are saying. It is pretty widely known by now that the environment is in trouble and that it will only get worse if we do not do something soon.


  1. I have to disagree when you say that Marxists thought that environmentalists were elitist themselves, I think the article is saying that the environmental groups were focusing on the interests of the elitists. I think those are two different things. I guess you could say the elistists were holding the environmentalists back because they were only focusing on the interests of the elitists and not anyone else.

    It may be true that some environmentalists don't believe that the environment is as bad as everyone thinks. Looking through the article though I guess I can understand why they may think that. While reading it's hard to ignore the fact that scientists have predicted we would run out of a lot of things by now that we haven't. It seems to me that they pretty much predicted the world would end a long time ago and it hasn't. So I can understand why some scientists just don't know what to think when it comes to the environment. With that being said I want to make it clear that I do think something should be done when it comes to our environment(so don't think I'm one of those people who say there isn't a problem.)

  2. The shift from contrarian to ecoskeptic is a decent improvement because of the acceptance and problematization of anthroprogenic environmental issues, but they continue to be downplayed by critics like Lomborg who tell us not to worry so much. Isn't that how it always goes though? It's like saving for retirement. We all know that you'll be better off in the future if you start to prepare at a young age, but so many people disregard that fact and put it off until they are kicking themselves for not doing what they knew they should've.

  3. First of all, I must admit that I was somewhat confused by what exactly the neo-Mathusians, Marxists, Prometheans, Contrarians, and Cornucopians beleive exactly within the environmental realm. After researching these ideals online and going over the article I still do not feel as though I have them completely understood. But still I have much to say in regards to this article.
    I do beleive that there are numerous factors that fuel the skepticism within the current environmental global state and for good reason. In regards to global warming I do not beleive that there is a scientist that can predict what is going to happen or on any accurate time scale. We are dealing with an extremely complex system that entails numerous disciplines of understanding, disciplines that are not used to working within the same realm of academia. It appears, at first glance, that local (within United States) environmental problems are decreasing, are they really, or perhaps just being pushed into the periphery regions (global south) of the world. I agree with the article that there is a great deal of accountability by the environmental movement towards racial bias and a complete disregard for much of the worlds social injustices, but I do feel as though the environmental movement does have a great amount of potential if it is reassessed. At times they seem very apocalyptic, for some that is motivation and others it makes them lose sight. This "culture of fear" that is stated multiple times within this article is no new news. I strongly beleive that fear is what has kept our society so sedate for so long, and perhaps for these environmental extremists that is all they know for that is all we have grown up in.
    Though I do disagree with much of what Lomborg has stated, and with his regards towards comparing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and anthropogenic induced climate change into a monetary value, I strongly beleive that he has a point, at least within the society of the United States. We live in a capitalistic society, and very little change will be seen unless there is capital worthy of being made.
    I do not think that I necessarily hit at the point of this article and missed much of the discourse between Prometheans and Contrarians, but those are the thoughts it provoked for me.