The present debate raging over global warming exemplifies the clash between two competing public theologies. On one side, environmentalists warn of certain catastrophe if we do not take steps now to reduce the release of greenhouse gases; on the other side, economists are concerned with whether the benefits of actions to prevent higher temperatures will be worth the high costs. Questions of the true and proper relationship of human beings and nature are as old as religion. Today, environmentalists regard human actions to warm the climate as an immoral challenge to the natural order, while economists seek to put all of nature to maximum use for economic growth and other human benefits. Robert Nelson interprets such contemporary struggles as battles between the competing secularized religions of economics and environmentalism. The outcome will have momentous consequences for us all. This deep book probes beneath the surface of the two movements' rhetoric to uncover their fundamental theological commitments and visions.
Robert H. Nelson is Professor of Environmental Policy at the School of Public Policy of the University of Maryland. Among his previous books is Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond (Penn State, 2001).