What Actual Climate Progress Looks Like

By Keith Kloor
Aug 27, 2012 7:05 PMNov 20, 2019 1:32 AM


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It has been suggested by some that political action on climate change will require a grassroots uprising similar to the Civil Rights movement. The analogy strikes me as wishful thinking. In 2010, Leigh Ewbank laid out why:

Unlike the civil rights movement, climate change has a complex causation. Its effects are indirect, systemic, difficult to perceive, and will increase over time. This is compounded by an absence of directly affected and disgruntled citizens in developed nations to demand action. The fact that future generations and people that are living in the developing world are, and will be, hardest hit by our changing climate, means that this crucial driver for effective grassroots mobilization is missing in the west.

Yesterday, Auden Schendler made a similar argument:

Not being served a cheeseburger because you're African American is about as in-your-face as it gets. Climate change, while increasingly omnipresent, is never quite so personal. And that's why calling for a civil rights style revolution on climate might not be the best analogy.

He adds that, while there is persistent confusion over the specifics of climate science, which muddies the climate debate, you can't say the same for issues like apartheid or gay marriage:

And therefore it's going to be hard to generate the same outrage, a key ingredient of grassroots movements.

Schendler goes on to suggest that any revolution addressing climate change is likely to be spearheaded by influential elites and business leaders. He mentions New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who he notes (in the comment thread):

while not perfect, has done more on climate than probably any mayor and more than many large philanthropists, and who really understands the challenge and some solutions.

Well, it so happens that Bloomberg co-authored a recent op-ed in the Washington Post that championed one of those immediate (and interim) solutions:

We can frack safely if we frack sensibly. That may not make for a great bumper sticker. It does make for good environmental and economic policy.

If Bloomberg can get the environmental elites to agree, who knows, maybe they can build on the climate progress that's already been made. UPDATE: Just after my post went up, I saw news of an interesting related development, which I tweeted:

[strike]@[/strike]EnvDefenseFund & [strike]@[/strike]MikeBloomberg partner on shale gas campaign (responsible fracking) http://bit.ly/OosTRO  Will greens follow or recoil?

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