Cross posted at Daily Kos
It will not be long before people look back on our era and say “Why didn’t they do something? ANYTHING?”
The Age of Climate Disruption is not something to expect to wait for in the distant future — it has arrived. We are seeing, right before our eyes, an unending cycle of droughts, killer heat waves, crop failures, floods, hurricanes, record tornados.
And still our “leaders” do nothing, nothing, nothing about the crisis staring us all in the face. The reigning approach can be summed up in a single word: denial. (Latest of endless examples: the House voting to prevent the Dept. of Homeland Security — that includes FEMA — from spending a single penny on adaptation to climate change; Rush Limbaugh insisting that only candidates who lie about climate science are qualified to be president.)
But enough about them — this diary is about us.
I’ve certainly seen frustration and cynicism among my fellow environmentalists on this issue. But where is the anger? Where is the rage that they are stealing our future from us, and that they are doing so for the slimiest of reasons — to protect their donations from Big Oil and Big Coal? Where is the fury that instead of dealing with, and educating the public, on climate change, nearly the entire conservative establishment is spreading wild conspiracy theories that it’s all a “hoax”?
Take a page from our friends on the right. The whole Tea Party movement began with an angry rant on CNBC by Rick Santelli. It grew with rallies where right wingers got all their frustrations out in public. It exploded when Tea Partiers besieged Congressional town hall meetings and got in their Congressmen’s faces.
In the process, they attracted the media, gained and motivated followers, used that fury to drive grassroots organizing, won the 2010 elections — and now have the power they are using to furiously push their agenda.
I’m not saying we need to dress up like George Washington and talk about “revolution”. But the Tea Party demonstrated that passion is what drives grassroots movements.
The lack of openly and loudly expressed fury about climate change is one of the big reasons why the leadership of this country has been able to get away for so long with inaction. The Obama administration has made some important moves — funding billions of dollars in investments in clean energy in the stimulus, trying to pass climate change legislation, initiating EPA regulations, proposing various energy efficiency initiatives. But because the grassroots has not pushed them that hard, they have not pushed that hard to take truly decisive action.
What are we doing to make our voices heard on climate change? While I give Bill McKibben enormous credit for all he’s done to raise awareness on the issue, the main idea behind his group 350.org, demonstrates the problem. It’s about trying to motivate the public about climate change by focusing on…the right number of molecules of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (350).
Getting people worked up over…molecules? With due respect to McKibben and co., I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a lamer public relations strategy. What percentage of the population truly understands what carbon dioxide is, what molecules are, what the right number is?
More importantly, you don’t need to talk about such esoterica. Talk abouty Joplin, MO. Talk about Katrina. Talk about the huge wildfires currently raging in Arizona. Talk about the crop failures and the coming food shortages they will represent. Talk about the 15,000 people killed in last year’s Russian heat wave. (Didn’t hear about it? Sorry, the media was too busy covering Charlie Sheen.)
The bottom line here is that those who have held up action on climate change for so long are simply destroying our way of life — in the profoundest sense possible. Of course, it is usually conservatives who make this type of argument, for much more trivial reasons. Whereas having a gay couple move into my neighborhood has pretty much zero impact on my way of life, having to live with the reality and related fear of more climate related disasters, potential food shortages, more tropical disease, etc. affects my life and future at the deepest levels.
They are stealing our future. It’s time to get angry, to explode onto media forums and vent to our public officials and engage the climate deniers and expose them as the bunch of liars bought off by the oil industry that they they are. We need to debunk their bunk everywhere that it pops up.
We will not win this fight by calmly talking about molecules. We will win it with passion that pierces the heart and makes enough noise to be heard. No, we should not be nasty or destructive or anything other than strategically focused. But we need to dramatically turn up the volume.
We’re not being heard yet — and it’s getting late.