Allegheny Professor Michael Maniates’ Essay Supplies Take-Home Message in New Friedman Book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded”

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Sept. 29, 2008 – New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman has amplified a wake-up call about the sacrifices that will be required to stave off the global climate crisis first sounded on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post by Allegheny College professor Michael Maniates.

Friedman’s latest book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America,” includes several extended excerpts from Maniates’ work, including this key closing message on page 405.

“Again, Michael Maniates, a professor of political science and environmental science at Allegheny College, in his Washington Post essay (November 22, 2007) said it best:

Throughout our history it has been the knotty, vexing challenges, and leaders who speak frankly about them, that have fired our individual and communal imagination, creativity and commitment. Paul Revere didn’t race through the streets of Middlesex County hawking a book on The Lazy Revolutionary.’ Franklin Roosevelt didn’t mobilize the country’s energies by listing 10 easy ways to oppose fascism. And it’s unlikely that Martin Luther King Jr.’s drafts of his I Have a Dream’ speech or his Letter From Birmingham Jail’ imagined a practical politics of change rooted in individualistic, consumer-centered actions… The greatest environmental problem confronting us isn’t melting ice, faltering rain, or flattening oil supplies and rising gasoline prices. Rather, it’s that when Americans ask, What can I do to make a difference?’ we’re treated like children by environmental elites and political leaders too timid to call forth the best in us or too blind to that which has made us a great nation.”

“Obviously, I’m delighted to see that the call to action is spreading. Friedman’s work is a vitally important contribution to the cause,” said Maniates. “Now is the time for Friedman’s readers – for all citizens – to finally recognize the urgency of global climate change and be open to those measures, many of which will be difficult but nevertheless rewarding, that lead to truly effective and democratic solutions.”

Maniates – who Miller-McCune Magazine said in its September 2008 issue “may be the nation’s leading authority on the politics of consumption” – has committed his career to studying and writing about global patterns of consumption, overconsumption and consumerism; low consumption/high prosperity paths to development; and underexplored routes of citizen involvement in contemporary environmental struggles.

Maniates founded and coordinates the Project on Teaching Global Environmental Politics, an electronic network of more than 300 scholars, educators and activists focused on global environmental affairs. He is the co-founder and a member of the Advisory Board of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, now celebrating its 20th year of interdisciplinary policy analysis and advocacy.

He holds a B.S. (Phi Beta Kappa) in conservation and resource studies and an M.A. and Ph.D. in energy and resources, all from the University of California at Berkeley. He was a Fulbright scholar to India, a recipient (with Tom Princen and Ken Conca) of the Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental politics for “Confronting Consumption” (MIT Press, 2002) and academic dean of the spring 2007 Semester at Sea program. In 2000 Maniates received Allegheny College’s Thoburn Teaching Award for Innovation and Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Maniates’ best known publications include “Environmental Studies: The Sky Is Not Falling,” published in BioScience; “Individualization: Plant a Tree, Ride a Bike, Save the World” and “In Search of Consumptive Resistance: The Voluntary Simplicity Movement” in “Confronting Consumption” and “Of Knowledge and Power” in his volume “Encountering Global Environmental Politics” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).

He is currently writing two books about the politics of sacrifice within today’s environmental movement: an edited academic volume tentatively titled “The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice,” to be published by MIT Press in late 2008, and a book aimed at a popular audience with the working title of “Selling Us Short: Grown Up Ways of Saving the Planet.”

– AC –