Tale of Two Planets

Here is one view of the path humanity is on, which is implied by a recent conference.

Another view is markedly sunnier.

Is there room for another perspective, one that does not downplay ecological concerns or put them in irreconcilable conflict with humanity? If so, this would be it.

10 Responses to “Tale of Two Planets”

  1. thingsbreak says:

    Matt Ridley is an abject hack, and an unoriginal one at that. He’s just pulling a Lomborg, and is no better at disguising his cherry-picking and fallacious reasoning than the original.And I see the siren-song of the “middle road” between anti-science crankery and science-based-concern still hasn’t lost its allure. BTW, Kareiva isn’t really offering an alternative to the Planet Under Pressure vs. Ridley views. He’s an alternative to anti-technology hippies.

  2. grypo says:

    Also, the new words that upset people are “green” and “clean energy”, so that goes along with “climate change” “extinction” “eco-fillintheblank” etc.The only possible narrative now is ‘all of the above’, which essentially isn’t actually a conversation, its business as usual.  Hooray for making language disappear, political correctness for the feelings of natural gas.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-04/alternate-energy-group-to-avoid-clean-green-in-campaigns.html 

  3. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Keith,I don’t think you are going to find too much commentary in support of the middle ground.  Those who hold it (like me) tire of being attacked from both sides.  ‘thingsbreak’ has already given the perspective of one extreme; no doubt some will offer the perspective of the other extreme.  There are legitimate problems and concerns with global warming, overfishing, loss of habitat, etc, etc. of course, but the end of the natural world is not rapidly approaching.  There is a wide range of challenges facing humanity; environmental issues are but one of many.  Those who hold extreme views dominate blogs and generate more heat than light, and what they say offers little in the way of practical approaches of actually addressing problems.  It all reminds me a bit of how bad currency drives good currency out of circulation.

  4. Bobito says:

    There is certainly room for another perspective, just like there is room for the ball in the middle of a rugby scrum!

  5. Nullius in Verba says:


    I don’t know. The middle ground might be more popular than you think. I read the article on Kareiva (the full one Revkin linked), and thought “At last! A sensible environmentalist!” It’s hard to be sure, of course – he might be heretical by environmentalist standards, but still accepting too much of the guff. We’d need to see the details. But I do like the attitude!

    But of course the most interesting aspect of the article was how other people reacted. I got the impression he was tolerated, but that he is still very much a minority taste. Articles like this are hopeful signs, but I find it hard to think scientists like him will be able to hold the limelight. Environmental campaigning has too much momentum.

    I agree with Keith that this is a much better perspective, and one that ought to work out much better with the more scientifically-minded sceptics. I suspect, despite #1’s views, that Matt Ridley might think so too. But the problem the Kareiva approach has for sceptics will be the amount of baggage environmentalism now carries, which will mean even Kareiva will start with little credibility; and this means that for orthodox believers it’s not going to have the instant success that would be needed to overcome their resistance to his heresy. They will just see it as handing the enemy more ammunition.

    There is great potential value in environmentalism – most people want a clean, safe, healthy, and pleasant environment; most people want to make space for and look after the wildlife, (although not at any cost). But there is a significant portion who are put off by the exaggerating, propagandising, nonsensical, Luddite anti-technology, anti-industrial, intolerant, extremist, tree-hugging obstructionism that characterises much of the modern movement. A few more Kareivas would go some way to fixing that, but only if what he says is taken to heart.

  6. D. Robinson says:

    Re #5 Kareiva “At last! A sensible environmentalist!”Agreed.  The question is will he be able to influence even a small portion of the green movement into taking some more sensible positions and focusing on actually achievable goals, or will he get run over by the unstoppable, unthinking freight train that is environmentalism.  By the way, I know a way to start mitigating CO2 caused warming tomorrow.  Breakup the IPCC and hire a corps of engineers to cut energy waste and make efficiency improvements to infrastructure.  <i>Oh wait, then who’d get to meet in Rio to drink Evian and solve the worlds problems?</i>  Never mind.   

  7. D. Robinson says:

    I swear I had to double spaced line breaks in there.  Oh well.

  8. BBD says:


    You should read Brand (Whole Earth Discipline). I think you would be pleasantly surprised by ‘ecopragmatism’.

  9. Bobito says:

    @8 BBD – I found this quote by way of the wikipedia page for Whole Earth Discipline.

    “(Environmentalists) are viewing what I’m saying more in sorrow than in anger,” Brand says. “They’re saying, `Too bad this nice, old fellow used to be one of us. He’s obviously lost his mind.'”

    Sounds like this book got him the “Judith Curry Treatment”. See #4 😉

  10. Jack Hughes says:

    Thanks for posting this. My own life and ideas have followed a similar path.For me it started with a love of nature, leading on to practical conservation work, then a brief period of 90s-style environmentalism and now a rejection of 90s-style environmentalism.

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