Love Your Monsters
Edited By: Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus
A collection of essays that argue against liberal, ecological economics’ anti-technology stance.
Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene edited by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus presents a collection of writings about the new era of the earth, the Anthropocene (a geological epoch shaped by humans) and its’ effect on environmentalism.
Featuring numerous writers, the book is a collection of essays that discuss environmentalism in the age of human advancement. With technological advances increasing the ability for humans to thrive, populations have increased and many environmentalists have warned about the effects on global health. Backlash against technology has led to environmentalism diminishing in the current time, many essayists argue, and the need for humans to embrace technology, with all its risks and potential to do good, is essential in order to combat the very things environmentalists are trying to fix with backward thinking.
Many of the essays argue for the continued advancement of technology as a means to better solve the world’s climate and environmental problems. Much of the essays discuss historical moments, including the initial “tree-hugger” moment and others to highlight their point.
I can say that I put this on my TBR a loooong time ago, so I can’t really remember what initially drew me to this book or where I came across it in the first place. I probably was drawn to its focus on environmentalism, of which I have a great interest. But now having read the book I can say that I don’t think I had any idea what it was actually going to be about when I first thought of reading it.
This book is full of very strong opinions about the failings of ecological economists and environmentalism/conservationists. I learned a great deal about the downsides to preserving nature just through parks and protected lands (often this means kicking out indigenous peoples without compensation and enforcing strict rules while using the space in their stead). Many essays also talk about the nostalgic view of nature by the upper classes, who eschew technology and industry for these naturalistic places all while still utilizing these technologies, either to get to these sacred natural places or while currently enjoying them. Hypocrisy is a common theme here.
These essays are backed up by numerous sources and the points made are in many ways logical, but I felt the overall tone of the book is very angry and contemptuous, which I did not enjoy. Many of the essays also seem to be making similar points, enough so that the book feels a bit repetitive to me, though these essays were written for different publications originally and are just collected here.
Taking these facts in mind, I’ll say that I came away from this book well informed, if a bit disheartened and tired by the aggressive language.
Literary Value: 4/5
I have not read many books in this vein of though, so this is new territory to me. For this reason, I’d say this book has significant value. For instance, I learned things about conservation that I definitely wasn’t taught in school and I was shocked by. The many authors included here all have impressive credentials and their writing is competent and accessible, which is sometimes difficult to do in scientific fields.
I highly suggest giving it a read because of this, and it is a short book, so it won’t take you long to get through. I would even hazard to say that you don’t need to read every essay, but I would definitely recommend reading “Conservation in the Anthropocene” and “Evolve.”
Entertainment Factor: 2/5
The only reason for my low rating here is because I felt the overall tone of this book was very aggressive and angry. I have read many non-fiction books about science and the environment that I have thoroughly enjoyed (if you’ve never read American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee, please check it out, it’s amazing!), but this book was just a bit too one-note for me. There were also a couple of times where I thought to myself: why did I even put this on my TBR in the first place? That’s not a good sign for reading a book. So I couldn’t really say I enjoyed reading this book too much.
Cover Art Rating: 3/5
I think the cover for this book is fine. It’s average. It’s a little bland, but it also appeals to me in a minimalistic way, so I don’t dislike it. I find that non-fiction books can be really unpredictable in this category, so I will give props for the book’s cover being decent and not offensive. It doesn’t catch the eye very much, but it also has small things about it that are intriguing, like the small splash of color from the plant.
Overall Rating: 3/5
This book is solidly in the middle for me. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It had moments of surprise for me, it increased my knowledge in this area, and it provided me with a new perspective on a subject I thought I knew pretty well. I never thought of environmentalists/liberals as being anti-technology! But this book provided me with lots of evidence on this point. I’m sure that this is not the case for ever environmentalist/liberal. This book has, however, made a strong case for technology’s ability to aid humanity in environmentalism, and that the potentially unexpected side-effects and risks are worth it for the end result. I can say that I agree for the most part, though I do remain slightly skeptical.
If you’ve read this book, please let me know what you think! If you haven’t I would say give it a look if you’ve any opinion on technology and environmentalism. It’s short enough that I wouldn’t flat out say avoid.
Open discussion below!
Have you read “Love Your Monsters”? What are your thoughts on their argument for embracing human technological advancement as our path to solving environmental issues? Let me know your thoughts down below!