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Extended Audio Sample Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, by Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (163 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus Narrator: Jeff Cummings Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Environmental insiders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus triggered a firestorm of debate with their self-published essay, “The Death of Environmentalism.” In this eagerly anticipated follow-up, the authors expand upon their argument that the paradigms driving the environmental movement and much of liberal politics are outdated and ineffective. A politics centered on restricting human growth and development does not resonate with the primary concerns of either the developing world or insecure modern Americans—nor can it solve a problem as large and complex as global warming. What is needed instead, they argue, is a new kind of development that integrates ecological, social, and economic change, motivated by an optimistic new vision of the future. By shifting from a politics of fear and limits to one of expansive possibility, we can galvanize American creativity and enterprise to tackle our most pressing challenges.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Break Through] is unremittingly interesting, sharp, and wide-ranging, and it provides a great deal of thoughtful comment for anyone trying to figure out how to rally public support behind action on climate change, or indeed behind any progressive change.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Could turn out to be the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.”


  • “Their big-picture ideas are important and intensely argued, making this a convincing, resonant and hopeful primer on ‘postenvironmentalism.’”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Break Through delivers on the authors’ promise to articulate a new politics for a new century, one focused on aspirations, not complaints, human possibility, not limits…With its challenge to conventional environmentalist, conservative, and progressive thought, and its proposal for a politics of possibility, Break Through will influence the political debate for years to come.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Joe | 2/10/2014

    " Potentially paradigm shifting if we could make it next month's subway read for damn near everyone. I used to be one of those people who gave the human race fifty, sixty years tops. No longer; or if the clock is still counting down I will cheerfully be contributing thought and action when it stops. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Eric | 1/28/2014

    " From a public policy perspective, this is a fascinating read. The primary argument that the authors try to convey is that environmentalism has evolved into a narrow special interest, and must redefine itself to adapt to a changing world. Some of the examples used are more effective than others. Highlighting the current situation in Brazil was effective, as it's difficult to ensure the integrity of the Amazon in a country with massive economic problems (vast international debt) coupled with social injustice (large income gap among classes, lawlessness). Others examples are a bit more strained, such as the direct comparison of environmentalism to religion. Just don't read this if you're looking for a conventional take on the subject. Overall, a compelling case is made for an environmental paradigm shift. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Daniel | 1/3/2014

    " Shellenberger and Nordhaus wrote a controversial essay a few years ago called "The Death of Environmentalism." This book expands on the ideas they presented in the essay. It's a provocative book that makes the valuable point that the environmental movement won't thrive on pessimism and condescending injunctions to behave better. The authors favor (rather convincingly) the Apollo Project, a program of major investments in green technology and infrastructure. The book is, to my mind, weakened by a gratuitous slap at the environmental justice movement. Some of the specific points are valid, but the chapter becomes a wholesale attack. At a time when environmentalism has to broaden its scope and shed its "tree hugger" image, why attack a movement that relates environmental issues to concerns of the poor and people of color? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Travis | 12/29/2013

    " Makes a great case for the need for big government intervention in the energy industry to make the switch away from fossil fuels. "

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About the Author

Ted Nordhaus has spent his entire career working with environmental organizations. He is a managing director of American Environics, a social values research and political strategy firm. Nordhaus is the coauthor, with Michael Shellenberger, of a number of books, including Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility and Break Through: Why We Can’t Leave Saving the Planet to Environmentalists.