Next Stop Environmental Paradise?
Eric Neumayer

Seminar Introduction

imageThe war of words about the environment has been waged furiously for the better half of this century. Is the earth doomed because of the inevitability of global warming, rising sea levels, biodiversity extinction, loss of essential minerals, energy and the ill-effects of industrialisation? Or are these eleventh-hour scares engineered by the same camp, which argued that acid-rain heralded the end of the natural world or that millions would die of starvation in the 1970s? The arguments between environmental optimists and the environmental pessimists dominate the media, leaving the public largely in the dark. They accuse each other of being unscientific, of lacking the necessary academic qualifications to take part in the debate and of holding their views for immoral reasons. Both camps of the environmental lobby complain that the media gives too much coverage to the other side.

So where exactly does the truth lie? In this seminar, Eric Neumayer draws a fascinating and comprehensive guide to the environmental battlefield. If you have ever felt lost amidst the contradictory words and forecasts of the environmental optimists and pessimists, this seminar should equip you with the arguments and fallacies of both camps, enabling you to steer a reasoned, well-informed path through the various debates.

In session one, Neumayer sets out the parameters of the debate. He goes on to explore the arguments and methods of both environmental optimists and pessimists. In session three, he considers the most recent and controversial addition to the debate, Bjorn Lomborg's widely celebrated book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. He argues that even this book fails to provide a way out of the old trenches of the debate between environmental optimism and pessimism in choosing to join the optimistic camp. Finally, he considers what lessons can be learned from such a survey of the debate.

  • Session 1 The Environmental Debate
  • Session 2 The Environmental Optimists and Pessimists
  • Session 3 Sceptical About the Environmentalist: Bjorn Lomborg's Thesis
  • Session 4 The Similarities Between Optimists and Pessimists
  • Session 5 Explaining the Divergence
  • Session 6 The Final Word on the Environment
Learning Objectives:
  • Summarise the basic arguments of the environmental optimists and pessimists.
  • Describe the environmental problems faced by the world in the twenty-first century.
  • List the factors that indicate that major human-induced bio-diversity loss is unrealistic.
  • Describe the methods that environmental optimists and pessimists use to discredit one another. Explain the extreme divergence in opinions about the environment.

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