For years, sociologists who study society and the environment have focused on resolving the debate regarding the relationship between economic development and environmental degradation. Studies from a family of critical perspectives tend to find that economic development is antithetical to environmental protection, whereas a suite of more optimistic perspectives has uncovered more hopeful findings. We attempt to resolve these differences by situating this debate within the larger framework of the anthro-shift. The anthro-shift explains how the society-environment relationship changes over time. The theory assumes this relationship is the product of interrelations among the state, market, and civil society sectors. We focus on two distinctive qualities of the anthro-shift: the role risk plays as a pivot for reorienting how society interacts with the natural environment and the multidirectionality of the theory, highlighting how it combines elements of many of the dominant critical and optimistic perspectives into a broader framework.