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Mother Jones
January 1, 2000

Books : Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists

Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists By Peter Huber. New York: Basic Books, 2000. 224 pages. $25. This book bills itself as a "manifesto"—the right's response to Al Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.

But if Hard Green represents state-of-the-art conservative thinking on the environment, it's hard to know whether to be amused—or very concerned.

"Hard Green was and remains traditional conservation," writes Huber. "To believe in [it], we merely have to love the unspoiled wilderness, forest, river, and shore." Though seemingly unable to articulate the ethos any more clearly than that, Huber advocates a notional return to the conservation measures of his idol, Teddy Roosevelt, as well as a laissez-faire environmental policy that relies on market forces to protect our open spaces.

Huber's tract, written under the auspices of the Manhattan Institute, assails the "Soft Green" philosophy championed by Gore. Soft Green, Huber sniffs, is obsessed with "ephemeral wisps and molecular traces." By sweating invisible details—auto emissions, dioxins, etc.—Soft Greens miss the forest for the trees, and are unfit to steward the planet.

Hard Green is, at base, a know-nothing approach to our complex—and very real—environmental problems. And Huber limns his ideas in a jangled, tuneless prose. This is dangerous medicine chased with vinegar—difficult to swallow, whatever the plasticity of your greenness. —S.S.

© 2000 Mother Jones

Visit the Hard Green website

 

 


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