Environmentalism, for all its success, is still largely shaped by its elitist roots. It also remains a movement made up of upper-middle class whites, something leaders of established environmental groups had cause to lament after Obama was elected president. In recent years, scholars and journalists have written books on how this lack of racial and ethnic diversity has diluted environmentalism's political power and message. If this has prompted any real soul-searching by mainstream environmental groups, I'm not aware of it. If there are any big mission-altering statements or campaigns by any of these groups that have enlarged the green tent, I'm not aware of them. But I did note Bill McKibben's call to arms in yesterday's LA Times, in which he declared that the "environmental movment isn't big enough" to tackle global warming. He wrote that environmentalism
has been sized to save whales and build national parks and force carmakers to stick catalytic converters on exhaust systems. It's nowhere near big enough to take on the fossil fuel industry, the biggest player in our global economy.
McKibben, through an organization called 350, is looking to build a groundswell of climate activism from Easter Island (I thought they cut down the last tree there long ago?) to the inner city. It's a nice idea: let's get everyobody on board. But people consumed with their own daily survival may not be easily recruited to save the planet.