The Breakthrough Institute is a pioneering research institute that is changing how people think about energy and the environment. Breakthrough's mission is to accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, and prosperous lives on an ecologically vibrant planet. Our core values are integrity, imagination, and audacity.
Who We Are
We are progressives who believe in the potential of human development, technology, and evolution to improve human lives and create a beautiful world.
We are researchers, analysts, and writers who reject outmoded orthodoxies on the Left and Right, and are dedicated to new ways of thinking about energy and the environment.
We are the authors of reassessments of progressive assumptions, from "The Death of Environmentalism," which argued for transcending a nature-based politics to Where Good Technologies Come From, which demonstrates the critical role government has played in the development of technologies from the railroad to the iPhone.
We believe that the challenges we face today are of a different kind than those of the past. Transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to a clean energy economy is much more complex than simply limiting pollutants to protect the ozone. Conservation in a place as vast and economically important as the Amazon will necessarily look different than conservation in the relatively small Yosemite Valley.
We are dedicated to bringing new ideas to the table that change the debates over energy, the environment, and the economy so they better reflect the global challenges of the 21st century.
The Breakthrough Institute's groundbreaking reports are cited by everyone from President Obama to the American Enterprise Institute.
What We Believe
We believe that technology and modernization are at the foundation of human progress.
We believe that human prosperity and an ecologically vibrant planet are not only possible, but inseparable.
We believe the market is a potent force of chance, but that long-term government investment is required to accelerate technological progress, economic growth, and environmental quality.
We believe that the new ideas and breakthroughs required to address the challenges of the 21st century take time to develop, change the way people think, and shape the world.
We believe all knowledge is partial, contingent, and subjective, and thus try to bring a ruthlessly critical eye to underlying assumptions, especially our own.
“The pugnacious pair is often bashed for their rhetoric, but the two are genuine in their hawkishness on the climate and their commitment to global equity.” –– The American Prospect
How We Effect Change
Breakthrough cofounder Michael Shellenberger (center) at Breakthrough Dialogue 2012 with Enkhtuya Oidov (left) and Breakthrough's Director of Conservation Linus Blomqvist (right).
Breakthrough’s unique approach is rooted in a positive, optimistic paradigm called ecomodernism, which embraces modernity to leave more room for nature and expand human prosperity. Breakthrough advances the ecomodernist paradigm in three main ways: research, communications, and network-building. Our research is designed to illuminate pathways to “decouple” the link between human development and environmental destruction. Our communications work, which includes our website and the Breakthrough Journal, advances a positive vision of our environmental future grounded in real-world trends. Our network-building work takes multiple forms: Breakthrough convenes a broad-based, ideologically diverse group of scholars, experts, and policy makers to engage in robust discussion and debate, particularly at our annual event, the Breakthrough Dialogue. We also run Breakthrough Generation, a 10-week research fellowship that prepares young scholars to tackle the big challenges of the 21st century.