Does Government Failure Create Climate Apathy or Determination?


Image credit: George Kelly, used under Creative Commons license.

Matthew recently urged the green movement to regroup, refine and redefine its messaging, now that climate legislation looks unlikely in the foreseeable future and climate skepticism/denialism has undergone a political resurrection. Certainly, the politics of climate progress look more dismal than they have in a good few years. The question is, do we let the failure of government to tackle the environmental issue become an excuse for our own inaction, or do we galvanize ourselves to step up the fight?I missed it when it was first posted, but Erik Blachford over at Terrapass has an excellent piece on staying committed to personal climate action, despite political setbacks. Prompted by a friend who seemed surprised that he " still cared about that stuff" when he brought up his personal carbon footprint, Blachford acknowledges that things are not as rosy as they used to be:

"It stopped me in my tracks, but it's not hard to see why he asked the question. The environmental world sure does seem to have lost some of its luster since the heady days of early 2007, when Al Gore was winning Oscars and Nobels, the IPCC was coming out with seemingly incontrovertible conclusions, and the world looked to finally be on the verge of signing a comprehensive treaty. Now we've got even President Obama declaring a federal climate bill to be dead for years to come."

But far from letting the stalemate evident in our political institutions become a reason to let ourselves off the hook, Blachford argues (paraphrasing David Roberts of Grist) that we need to become "climate hawks" who fight the good fight on as many fronts as possible, leaning forward into the debate, and acting on both a personal and a political level.

Sure, it was all very nice when Al Gore was winning Oscars and Newt Gingrich was arguing for climate action, but it was also easy to feel like the tide was finally on our side. With a resurgence of anti-science, anti-environmental politics going on, now is the time we really need to step up our game.

More on Environmental Politics and Strategy
With Congress Approaching Gridlock, Let's Seize the Moment to Regroup, Refine and Redefine
Environmentalists Need Strategy: Saul Alinsky and the Green Movement
To Win, The Green Movement Needs to Understand Leverage, Not Just Footprints

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Environmental Footprint | United States

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