Framing the Issues

Readers of this blog should appreciate the logic underlying this essay, “The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World”. It was written by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus under the aegis of the Breakthrough Institute (the essay uses George Lakoff’s “strategic framing” concepts extensively… and Lakoff sits on their advisory board).
An excerpt:

If environmentalists hope to become more than a special interest we must start framing our proposals around core American values and start seeing our own values as central to what motivates and guides our politics.

Here’s what the Breakthrough Institute’s home page leads off with:

The Breakthrough Institute believes that we can create a better world by advancing a vision grounded in America’s founding values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


I found out about this essay, and the Breakthrough Institute, by extension, as the result of reading this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, which gives a good overview of the debate provoked by the publication of this essay.
In the “Future” section of the Breakthrough Institute web site, under the heading “Strategy and Values”, they ask the same question we on this blog have tried to answer: ‘What explains how we can simultaneously be “winning on the issues” and losing so badly politically?’
P.S. Michael Shellenberger is co-founder of the Apollo Alliance, which this essay cites as an example of the strategic direction environmental activism should take.

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