i'm an engineer, captain, not a miracle worker
Give us all the hope you've got, Scotty!
There's a passage in Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger's Breakthrough; From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility - and I'm paraphrasing here - where the pair note that if many of the old environmental and political frames seem outdated or wrong to you, then you too have probably moved past them and are experimenting with political modes on fresher, more fertile ground.
Convenient, to be sure, but after yours truly yammering on and on about how the N & S had picked up on enviro-justice as a basis for a globally warmed world, when I sat down and read the book it I found they took every chance they got to knock the environmental justice movement - at least as they understood it, because what they defined environmental justice as is a truly outdated concept, and almost none of the activists, groups, or other environmentalists I've worked with, written about, or have had contact with in the last five years are boxed into that defo; indeed, it seems that me and them and everyone one we know's living in Breakthrough World.
Crucial to this ambitious (no - grasping - grasping is better), and yes important, but yes still profoundly flawed book - really, it's more of an extended position paper than anything else - are definitions: here are some straw environmental justice-ers, and here's how they define the world with all that silly ha-ha race-baiting and here's how we define them and here's what's wrong with all that; here's how these straw enviros think about saving the Amazon; here's how this unleashing this ideal new economy (that may or may not actually exist anywhere outside of a few labs and radical economics classes) can help save civilization.
A lot of the book reminded me of warmed-over Friedman, all reason-and-understanding-in-the-face-of-arguments-I'm-not-even-listening-to smugness. A lot of what they're calling for - a more democratic, a more innovative environmentalism that sees people and their communities as part of a whole rather than sitting on the other side of the Cartesian divide - is already part of the discourse, it's happening, right now, on the ground - Denver Urban Gardens kept popping up for me - which may simply demonstrate that if you've actually gotta take the time to call something dead, than you're way behind the curve already.
This is not to say that this isn't the moment for this book. We desperately need to start engineering some hope, and the book offers some sliver of cheer, even as our definitions of what's good and green are now on a sliding scale. S & N have a lot of influence, and enviros would do well to sit down and read this book, because other people - people who have the ears of elected officials, policy makers, and even dipshits like Tom "It's Always Sunny In New York" Friedman - will too. If we're going to go about not only redefining environmentalism, but nature as well, it's best if we get some consensus.