"Getting to Green: Saving Nature: A Bipartisan Solution"

Jul 6, 2016

On this installment of ST, we speak with the corporate lawyer, conservation leader, and author Frederic C. Rich. His new book, just out, is called "Getting to Green" -- it argues for a new bipartisan coalition in American politics and culture in order to fix the ongoing (and basically nonfunctioning) mess that is the current Green Movement in the US. As was noted of this title in a starred review in Kirkus Reviews: "Rich...brings an understanding of both the corporate and environmental worlds to this fresh and welcome analysis of a green movement that 'has lost its way.' In a powerful opening, he notes that the last major environmental bill passed in the United States, the Clean Air Act of 1990, was a compromise based on a market approach, the kind of legislation not possible in today's polarized politics. The bipartisan consensus of the 1960s and 1970s (President Richard Nixon called environmentalism 'a cause beyond party and beyond factions') fell apart with the Ronald Reagan revolution of the 1980s, leading to the present 'Great Estrangement,' with conservatives drifting rightward and environmentalists leftward. To repair the breach, conservatives must reassert their traditional leadership of conservation causes (à la Theodore Roosevelt) and temper their market fundamentalism. Greens have to learn to compromise, to tone down alarmist demands and offer a more hopeful vision, and to reform their mostly aging, white movement to win national support. Rich's call for change is sometimes wildly ambitious and seems especially unobtainable in light of current left-right debates, but his experience is unquestionably relevant. His frank views will leave both sides somewhat offended but will hopefully prove useful in teasing out the best impulses of both corporate and environmental leaders in the service of nature. All will certainly appreciate the author's thoughtful, sharp examination of issues that have prevented legislative action on climate change for two decades.... [This book offers] essential reading for anyone with a stake in the environmental debate."