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09 oktober 2007

Hebben progressieven een verkeerd idee van verandering?

The authors of the new book Break Through argue that scaring people with bad news about the environment is no way to get them to change - what's needed is a dream we all want to be a part of.

By Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, AlterNet, October 8, 2007

Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus have written a book - Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) - that challenges the way we are used to thinking about solving social problems. The conventional wisdom writ large, especially for progressives, is that when things are bad, people need to be scared into changing their habits, whether it is to protect the 50 million people who lack health care, or the behaviors that contribute to potential climate catastrophe. Most of us assume that we have severely limited resources, that growth is bad, and we need ever-increasing amounts of regulation to save the future.

In their book, Nordhaus and Shellenberger suggest something very different. They argue strongly that scaring people is no way to make change. For example the 250 million people with health care will not be inclined to fight for those who don't have it, unless they feel confident in the future, and that the health system will improve for them too, since people don't want what exists to get worse in the process of expanding care.

The same for climate catastrophe: As Nordhaus and Shellenberger put it: "Cautionary tales and narratives of eco-apocalypse tend to provoke fatalism, conservatism, and survivalism among voters - not the rational embrace of environmental policies. This research is consistent with extensive social-science research that strongly correlates fear, rising insecurity, and pessimism about the future with resistance to change."

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