Harte, who conducts research into the ecological impacts of climate change, objected primarily to the first half of the essay, “Environmentalism as a Special Interest.” That section, in Harte’s assessment, was “deficient in its logic” and “laden with what I would call postmodern gibberish” and “overly broad generalizations” about environmentalists. The authors, he added, provided “no analysis” of why Europe is moving aggressively to address global warming, while the United States is dragging its heels.
Norgaard took a dimmer view. “I didn’t like Part 1 or Part 2,” he said, adding that he found the entire critique “quite shallow.” Norgaard, an “ecological economist,” faulted the paper’s authors for, among other things, bemoaning the movement’s alleged failure to frame the issue in moral terms while relying heavily on polling data and focus groups in support of their arguments.
Gelobter was a bit more charitable, observing that “as a movement-building piece,” at least, “the report has a lot going for it.” Nonetheless, he was sharply critical of the authors’ “denial” of activists who have gone before, and their refusal to build on earlier movement successes. “They are obsessed in their piece with ancestors,” he said, “the better to kill them, I think.”
Gelobter also took issue with the authors’ methodology, which focused on interviews with some two dozen environmentalists from large, mainstream organizations. But those leaders, he said, do not reflect the full spectrum of environmental activists.
Update [2005-2-28 15:19:13 by Dave Roberts]: By the way, I take great umbrage to Grist being referred to as “the backwoods of the online.” At five years and counting, I think we qualify as the old growth of the online!