The environmental movement needs to lead the way…

…towards survival.

To say that these are dispiriting times for the environmental movement is quite the understatement. Between “Climategate,” the constant harassment by the climate change deniers, marginalization by the government, reversal of past successes, and several other factors, many people have just given up. And rightly so, part of me thinks. To continue seems to be a lesson in futility.

However, as reality becomes less ignorable by more and more people, they are going to be looking for leadership, and this is an area where the environmental movement can distinguish itself. Being proven right is a great framework for building continued success, and this is only assisted by the fact that the climate change deniers are beginning to look more and more idiotic every day.

So, what are some strategies for doing this? One is to stop wasting resources trying to convince people who manifestly refuse to be convinced. There is enough evidence out there now, both scientific and experiential, to make the case to those who live in an evidence-based reality. Those who continue to deny the evidence either have strong financial incentives to do so, or just don’t want to hear it. These people will never be won over, so stop trying.

However, people in positions to effect change do continue to need hard evidence to help push through policies to both mitigate future climate change, and prepare for the change already programmed into the system. Thus, continued work on improving climate modeling and understanding of the modes of climate change should continue. Also, climate deniers have been working to reduce funding for these efforts so as to disable the ability to acquire evidence against them. This is an area where the environmental movement needs to step up and demonstrate leadership to prevent this from happening.

A second, parallel strategy is to help prepare the population for the coming changes. The environmental movement can demonstrate leadership here by determining and proposing policies to help mitigate the effects of population migration (climate refugees), reduced food and fresh water supplies, increasingly non-functional and erratic infrastructure, and other by-products of climate change which are going to force the adoption of different way of life. Indeed, I believe there is much work to be done to determine just what “a different way of life” means.

Finally, a strategy needs to be established to regroup and reinvigorate the environmental movement, possibly along the lines of pursuing the previous two strategies. The climate deniers may have won the first round, but not the war. Indeed, it seems to me to be a pyrrhic victory at best, as climate change becomes increasingly costly and foolhardy to deny. At some point, acceptance of climate change will undergo a critical mass event (if not already), and humanity will be better served if the environmental movement can lead it to a sustainable living arrangement, than to allow the wanton destruction that has defined much of human history when similar events have occurred.

The future is on the side of the environmental movement. It just needs to be prepared to lead us there.


Filed under Climate Change, Riding the Curve

7 responses to “The environmental movement needs to lead the way…

  1. I was so bloody excited when Peter Garret (Midnight Oil) entered Australian politics and then got onto the cabinet. I thought we were truly going to see some serious kickass… then nothing happened.

  2. I think the environmental movement and the political machine are separate. Environmentalists have often been demonized by the political machine to the point of being listed as terrorists. In some cases the actions have been extreme but to on the other hand extreme action (or at the very least) very vocal action is necessary. But it seems like it all falls on deaf ears even with evidence in hand…

    • Unfortunately, it takes both to sustain change.

      Sustained change, whether in the business or public arenas, requires both top-down (political) and bottom-up (grass roots) commitment. Few political leaders are going to stick their necks out without solid grass roots support, and without political support, grass roots efforts often fizzle out because nothing gets changed.

      I believe the environmental movement represents the grass roots side of the equation. What the climate deniers have been better at is getting other climate deniers elected to the political side. I think the environmental movement needs to start taking political heads and getting more environmentally conscience people elected if real change is going to occur.

      That being said, that doesn’t mean they can’t start taking a leadership role at the grassroots level for dealing with climate change. At some point, people are going to have to deal with the consequences, whether they believe in it our not 🙂

  3. I’m actually excited by the accelerating momentum of the environmental movement. They are becoming a mainstream presence and are no longer viewed as a bunch of tree-hugging hippies. And I think they are making progress in politics, albeit slowly. Green parties the world over are gaining support and getting a higher percentage of the vote with each election. That is certainly the case in Australia and New Zealand.

  4. Pingback: Legality & Justice Are Not Identical – Criminalizing Dissent | appalachian son

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