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Guardian, uk

A Harvard academic has put the blame squarely for America's failure to act on climate change on environmental groups. She also argues that there is little prospect Barack Obama will put climate change on the top of his agenda in his second term.

In a research paper, due to be presented at a Harvard forum next month, scholar Theda Skocpol in effect accuses the DC-based environmental groups of political malpractice, saying they were blind to extreme Republican opposition to their efforts.


Skocpol, meanwhile, lets Obama off the hook for the political inaction on climate change, overturning the conventional wisdom among environmental leaders that political cowardice by the White House ultimately doomed climate legislation.

Writing in Grist Bill McKibben  seems to agree in his response to Skocpol's paper
Watching the collapse of the effort to create a cap-and-trade plan for carbon emissions in 2009-10 was profoundly depressing. Reading Theda Skocpol’s insightful history [PDF] isn’t much more fun — but it’s certainly useful, in a Santayana kind of way. Since this is a mistake we can’t afford to repeat (the planet is running out of spare presidential terms and congressional sessions), Skocpol performs a real service by helping figure out what went wrong.

The first thing to be said, I think, is that this behind-the-scenes route was worth a try. Given the stakes, you would think elite players, especially in the business community, would have been willing to make the relatively small and painless changes the cap-and-trade law envisioned. Such inside-the-Beltway lobbying is how most environmental change has come, at least since the decline of the ’70s-era movement that really powered the most important legislation.


If the inside-the-Beltway groups had been able to turn to a real grassroots activist movement, the outcome might have been different. But that movement didn’t really exist, and many of the big players had only disdain for its embryonic form — they liked talking with corporate honchos more than treehuggers. And so the lobbyists from the green groups were walking naked into the offices of senators, who recognized that they lacked the ability to inflict pain or offer reward. The result was the rout we saw.

While Skocpol is pessimistic about anything being done in the near future due to political polarization,  McKibben is more optimistic and mentions the changes that have occurred since the cap and trade debacle in congress especially the grassroots efforts by 350. org to suspend action on the XL pipeline and the current program for fossil fuel divestment movements on university campuses.

This is fascinating stuff and I urge you to read the articles.  Also shows how important our activism is.  It truly is in our hands.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The beach I used to ride my bike to (18+ / 0-)

    in Fort Lauderdale when I was growing up has been washed away. I've been feeling very defeated when it comes to this stuff since that happened.

    Lo que separa la civilizacion de la anarquia son solo siete comidas.

    by psilocynic on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:24:14 PM PST

  •  Scientists Deserve 50% of the Blame. (18+ / 0-)

    All the scientists have done is to emphasize the severity and pace of the problem. Activists have done the same thing in their own ways.

    But yes, the government has failed to act, therefore it's the fault of scientists and activists for failing to inflict enough pain to make the government and the economy change.

    I presume the report concludes with a description of how scientists and activists could inflict the level of pain required.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:35:04 PM PST

  •  I wish Bill would have named names because this (20+ / 0-)

    elitist lobbying by enviro groups has been going on for a long, long time.

    I worked for one that did not do this and it used to piss me off when I had to deal with these groups because they were so (in addition to being defeatist up front) much like the ones they wanted the gov to regulate.

    I have to say that every single time I see Robert Redford (for instance) do an add for NRDC, I wince.

    All enviro groups are NOT the same and I really wish some of the smaller groups that are just kick ass (in addition to the larger ones that remain so) would get the help they need.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:37:57 PM PST

    •  i agree, shouldn't group them but there is truth (13+ / 0-)

      in this report.  i think this paper will cause a storm of blame game around DC

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:42:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes, from my own experience (19+ / 0-)

      of working with a smaller non-profit dedicated to working towards the big solutions, the bigger the environmental group the less interested in change they are. I guess it really is not so much different from the for-profit world: just follow the money. From what I've heard, NRDC is particularly atrocious. Not to say that there aren't any good intentions, but there are too many people making a comfortable living off of "eco-light" and not rocking the boat, and nobody wants to take any chances on anything that would challenge anyone's comfort, including their own cushy salaries and foundation money. So while the people I know who've dedicated their lives to promote actual solutions are constantly begging for change just to barely keep operating, the cocktail parties at the big eco conglomerates are lavish and growing. Rubbing elbows and talking about keeping the money faucet wide-open is where it's at. And aside from memberships, we all know where that money is coming from ultimately...

      You don’t want to be victimized by your lesser talents. - Gary Snyder

      by citisven on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:30:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well said as always, Sven. This report is timely (6+ / 0-)

        we need this discussion.  There is too much at stake we must have everyone on board for another may be our last chance.  Bill is certainly doing what is necessary..if only we could clone him.

        Macca's Meatless Monday

        by VL Baker on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:42:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Like any other organization (5+ / 0-)

        No matter how noble the goal, they eventually become fund raising organs, existing only to service themselves. MAD is a wonderful, (or appalling), example of that. Still, that doesn't excuse Obama's inaction.

        "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

        by MargaretPOA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:52:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (16+ / 0-)

        Do you have any idea how hard NRDC negotiators worked?

        Only in our dreams would smaller, more radical groups get the money and access NRDC gets. The NRDC isn't perfect, but this blame the enviro groups crap must stop.

        Blame the lying Koch Brothers.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:15:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  didn't mean to insult NRDC (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, SolarMom, Lujane

          please see my response to mindful nature below.

          You don’t want to be victimized by your lesser talents. - Gary Snyder

          by citisven on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:20:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You aren't wholly wrong, FOW. NRDC did stellar (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citisven, SolarMom, divineorder, Lujane

          work on VERY complex air quality issues in CA, for instance.

          And I have seen them join in very good wildlife litigation with CBD and others, for instance. But they are hardly a grassroots group.

          I personally have NEVER seen NRDC organize. It's really not their thing, I guess.

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

          by cany on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:27:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Doesn't it make sense that different groups would (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            play different roles? I fail to see how that's a bad thing in of itself.

            •  It's not a bad thing. But one thing that sometimes (0+ / 0-)

              DOES happen is that a group like this fails to work with the local community and the results are not satisfactory. It's really a balancing act, and everyone has a role imho.

              However, when they don't work together, the messages sent are different, it confuses decision makers and it can cause TERRIBLE dissent between the groups resulting in long term problems for any solution and beyond.

              Let me give you an example. Say you are Indigenous and the gov plans a nasty project on lands not on the reservation, but that are nonetheless sacred to you.

              Then a group marches in with NO ties to the tribe or the land, historically or culturally, and instead of working WITH the tribe more or less acts like they just rode in on a white horse to save the day. You can imagine how that makes the Indigenous folks feel and in the past, it has NOT been an uncommon problem unfortunately.

              Rather than work on an issue separately (with hard feelings and nothing shared and often losing for everyone involved), it is far better to work together and for each to contribute at their interest/skill/knowledge level.

              For instance, I would have no understanding of the sacred importance of the land or it's cultural--even anthropological or historical--relevance. Nor would I be an expert in the science. Rather, my job would be to get everyone in a room (this usually involved working with the tribal elders and sometimes with the council and sometimes both, depending on the tribe's politics and how they chose to proceed) and talking to see how we can work together for a common goal (e.g. stop the project) helping to use the science, politics etc. in organizing with the goal of helping the tribe defeat the project if that is their goal. Differences get talked through, and usually, there are differences that have to be worked through in my experience.

              And I would generally go a lot further putting the leadership pretty much in the hands of those closest to the land, which wouldn't be me or the scientists.

              There is a tremendous amount to gain, imho, in proceeding this way and a huge mess if it doesn't go something like this.

              This kind of work is more painstaking and takes a lot more patience, sometimes, but in the end, the victories are so, so much sweeter and everyone had a hand in it and are okay with everything. It also teaches all parties involved to be respectful and appreciative of the various talents, gifts and knowledge others possess that are vital to getting it right.

              I personally believe that working in a coalition that is as diverse as possible is an absolute prerequisite for success. Eventually this may include attorneys, or other specialists.

              The same thing goes in a community fight because the community must lead. They know best what is good for them. I would be mad as hell if someone came to my community and told me how it's going to go. It's disrespectful at best.

              202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

              by cany on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:30:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  NRDC is also the reason the small rural community (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cany, willyr, mightymouse

            next to mine has safe drinking water. They filed a lawsuit and made it happen when local organizing wasn't getting anywhere. It's just not true that they're callous fat cats. We really need groups fighting on multiple fronts. When we slam a group for being good at some tactics but not others, we're ceding ground rather than expanding it. Let's hit them from all sides, please.

            •  As long as the community is okay with it, that's (0+ / 0-)

              fine, but it often doesn't go that way.

              202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

              by cany on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:32:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  there also is too much redundancy (7+ / 0-)

        when we have dozens of groups doing essentially the same work, we have lots of wasted resources.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:26:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well what you heard was wrong (16+ / 0-)

        I am going to have to step in here.  I know NRDC somewhat well, and they are among the most effective organizations out there.  They don't organize giant rallies, but what they do do is get involved in the actuall processes where laws and regulations are made and they do it by knowing their shit backwards and forwards.  It is a very different model, but if you look at the actually laws and regulations that have comes to pass, NRDC has had an outsized hand in shaping them to the environmental benefit. In fact, they're the ones doing a huge amount of the actual work of protecting the environment by going to rule makings, hearings and lobbying.  You can hold all the rallies you want, but if you don't have cred with the people writing the laws, you are only going to have limited effectiveness.  It takes a particular kind of organization to know how much carbon is saved by changing a particular legal definition of "transit oriented development" from being within a quarter mile of transit rather than half mile of transit.  Thats the level of detail that is usually required and you need very sharp people to pull that off. Also, if you look at the change in national regulation forced through litigation, NRDC has done a huge amount of that work as well.  I'd say the only other organization that come close to their effectiveness in court are Center for Biological diversity on species issues and sometimes the Sierra club on local issues.  But this idea that they're sitting around loafing is simply not true.  

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:48:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks for the info (10+ / 0-)

          I didn't mean to imply that they're sitting around loafing. I have no doubt they're very busy doing what they're doing, and what they're good at is high level wheeling and dealing, as you describe. And they're probably the best at what they do. But the criticism in this diary seems to be that this kind of insider work hasn't been very effective, at least to date. And I know they're even interested in new and fresh perspectives, because they've invited smaller orgs to their meetings, but there's ultimately not much of an understanding of each other's worlds. It's like the UN inviting all the NGOs to their Rio+20 negotiations, and it's all nice and looks good, but ultimately it's "the adults" in the room who make all the decisions, and the decisions usually don't create huge change. I'm not saying that smaller organizations would be better at doing it, it's basically the same discussion we always have here about working within the system vs changing the system. I think you ultimately need both, but there's often too little understanding of the two worlds, and I might add, the resources are heavily skewed towards the ones working within the system, which ultimately perpetuates the system.

          You don’t want to be victimized by your lesser talents. - Gary Snyder

          by citisven on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:18:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree. I personally believe the most effective (5+ / 0-)

            approach is to have techo wizzes AND organizers that do education, outreach and organizing working together on the same issue. It's like building with two hands; much better and most effective.

            When I went to TX to help a teensie group in a very poor rural community fight a huge problem which was blessed by both the corporate and government world, the attorneys that agreed to work on the issue with them, in Austin, said almost nothing before telling me, "you can't stop this".

            Well, we did stop it. And we did it by organizing small groups together into a coalition and then reached out to/organized in communities all through TX who then reached out to their political reps.

            I think it's the most effective way to fight something--or FOR something--because they can't label you as unscientific (you have your wizzes) and there is a united base of power all asking for (or fighting against) the same thing.

            202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

            by cany on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:51:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  For what it's worth (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            citisven, TiaRachel, samanthab, willyr, JayDean

            The reason the inside game doesn't get much progress is because the game is stacked.  As Bill McKibben points out, the NRDCs don't command great voting blocks or more importantly campaign contributions.  Coal companies do.  The accusations that it is the enviros fault (which isn't what McKibben actually says if you read his piece) it's that all groups large or small are outgunned.   We need people who will not vote, work for, or donate to politicians who work against climate progress.  A big block of single issue voters.   We do not have that

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:56:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  CBD is my all time fav for wildlife litigation and (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citisven, Mindful Nature, Lujane

          yes, NRDC does extremely detailed work as you describe.

          Neither org, to my knowledge, does any organizing whatsoever but are on the legalistic side of things.

          The post, however, was really talking about organizing, education and public outreach none of which either group really does. How the public isn't involved in climate change.

          The only comparison I can make is whales. The public gets it. Climate... not so much.

          I realize comparing animal welfare issues/wildlife issues to data driven (though now more visually than ever) issues is a hard comparison. But so were whales once. No one really thought about them or knew much about them.

          If the focus is on public involvement, goups like NRDC won't be the ones to do that. It's not their forte. The climate issue is so stubborn w/i the public (and particularly with politicians) that the base (public) HAS to lead and they can't do that w/o leadership which is generally missing in the broad sense of the word.

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

          by cany on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:37:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hi cany, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citisven, Lujane

      as someone who isn't "in the know", who would you suggest I donate my money to?  Which environmental groups are your favorites?  Thanks!

      •  I don't know them all and I have been out of it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, JayDean, Ramoth

        for a while now, but if it's wildlife, CBD (Center for Biological Diversity) who litigates on ESA issues small and large. They are quite remarkable and have a great record. They often work with other groups (local groups) as well, but not in organizing. That's not their thing.

        I think it depends on what you are interested in accomplishing. If it's technical or litigation, there's a set of groups. If it's toxics, environmental justice (which requires a lot of ground organizing) it's another group.  If it's nuclear related, that's another group:)

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:42:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  excellent! (0+ / 0-)

          Thank you, cany.  As a lawyer by trade, the technical/legal litigation groups interest me, but toxics and environmental justice are always what outrage/motivate me most.  I will check out CBD first.  :)  Thanks again-

  •  It's not even greenwash--its hog wash (5+ / 0-)

    Its not even greenwash--its hog wash
    How long can you do nothing before even the most gullible see through? A long time ago…

    Love Me, I'm a Liberal!

    by simplesiemon on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:05:05 PM PST

  •  Lots of blame to go around (23+ / 0-)

    I'm skimming through Skocpol's article and haven't finished it yet, but I wanted to mention a couple of things before I dive back in:

    First, Skocpol's pretty awesome, and her theories about how revolutions get started, and the role of the state in society should be interesting reading to any progressive who is interested in seeing real change (as opposed to what we have right now, which is More of The Same).

    Second, as she describes the history of the "big environment" efforts to get Cap and Trade passed (which of course was originally a Republican idea), it's clear that there was in fact a brief window, before the HCA debate sucked all the air out of the room, when something could have been hammered out. Congress had passed a Cap and Trade law, but then it died in the Senate when too many Republicans panicked and Reid couldn't get anything to 60%.

    In my mind, three things mostly killed the legislation: the rise of the Tea Party (Skockpol's thesis), the idiotic filibuster rules, and a near complete lack of interest by Obama over Climate Change throughout, with almost no lobbying by the Admin. Clearly the health care insurance reform law fight became the most important thing in Washington and so Cap and Trade, and it's proponents were SOL.

    Which means, it's not entirely fair to blame environmentalist groups for all of the failure, except to the extent that their timing was particularly bad. But then, in the wake of ascendancy of the Tea Party movement culminating in the 2010 midterms, what time would have been good to fight this fight, and in any case what strategy would have been more effective?

    "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

    by quill on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:20:55 PM PST

    •  good comment quill...plenty of blame indeed (10+ / 0-)

      ACA law sucked all the oxygen out of DC for anything else.  That preoccupied the administration and also the media..can't let them off the hook.    We have been left with so many problems it's overwhelming our political processes.   Perhaps this is what the republicans have in mind.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:31:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  we'll have other chances (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        beach babe in fl, limpidglass, Lujane, Chi

        As the world begins to deteriorate more and more rapidly, with disasters, famine, flooding, disease, etc, then the public will eventually come around, bringing politicians along.  Maybe we'll some day have leaders who will treat climate change as the they should: greatest threat to the survival of our species that we've ever seen.

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:53:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  but we did elect a president (17+ / 0-)

          who proposed a Global Marshall Plan to fight climate change and promote sustainable development. However, the Supreme Court ousted him by split decision.

          And the former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who made waves by publicly saying that the Maldives were doomed if we did not fight climate change, and pledged to take his nation carbon-neutral in under a decade, was ousted in a coup last year by the army. I don't think that's a coincidence.

          The problem is that highly undemocratic forces are working to maintain the status quo. They have lots of money and are absolutely ruthless. They've deposed elected governments, and will happily do worse if they have to.

          The fossil-fueligarchy is like the Slaveocracy that had corrupted the entire US government in the run-up to the Civil War. They owned the president, the Congress, and SCOTUS.

          It will take huge effort, and much sacrifice, to free ourselves from their grip. And I'm not sure most people get that yet.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:30:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'd blame the stimulus fight more than the PPACA. (6+ / 0-)

      It was the Great Recession, and the actions the administration took to deal with it (Auto bailout, ARRA) that jumped to the top of the agenda in 2009, and made everything else - including health care reform - slide down the list.

      Cap and Trade isn't the only big item that ended up falling off the list.  Immigration reform is in the same boat.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:11:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Peter Orszag devalued the environment (13+ / 0-)

      All of Obama's econ men were meatheads on environmental economics. The bought the lies about jobs vs the environment. Moreover, Orszag discounted the benefits of climate change action so much that the earth would go Venus before he would act. Cass Sunstein wasn't much better.

      I'm sorry, but I'm not buying the main premise of this article which I have only partially read. It does not jibe with reality.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:34:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "idootic filibuster rules" (5+ / 0-)

      along with insistence for not acting in the paths could have been done w/50 Senators (+ Biden) enabled the deniers/fossil foolish interests the space to act.

      Also, imo, the distressingly ugly & fully comprehensive bill rather than something cleaner and, well, perhaps narrower ...

      End of the day, we need to remember who to "blame" -- certainly not enviros.

      PS:  Excellent comment. Thank you.  As one who was outside/tiny bit inside, I do think that the window for action existed in early 2009 and, unlike Skocpol, I don't think Obama + Obama's team deserve a 'they were smart to avoid this battle' whitewashing.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:32:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Too much focus on the Beltway!!! (7+ / 0-)

      Implied but not mentioned in these articles is the fact that, while the national-level, more financially flush enviro groups in DC and NYC lobby the big boys, we are getting KILLED out here in the states.

      The Right in America has a really deep bench and they connect at the grassroots. Those wingnuts in Congress cut their baby teeth out here in the flyover, sowing radicalism at the local level. Their anti-tax, anti-government, anti-everything orgs have added environmentalism to their hit list, and they have been very very effective. They have convinced the sheeple out in the homeland that environmentalists are part of some big government plot to take over everything; destroy the economy; make everybody live in the same house--oh I could go on with the BS, but the fact is, they're killing out here.

      Joe & Jane Sixpack out here are very confused about this. Yes, they think somebody should keep their water clean and protect them from disaster--and only the government is volunteering. But But But! Regulation is socialism! Environmental people are godless! Science is evil! THEY plan to destroy the economy! It all means government will put them in a FEMA concentration camp!

      The crazies have a huge megaphone for their insane propaganda, and tons of money behind them. We have nada.

      We do need to unite. We all need to try to broaden our views, help each other. I think the big environmental orgs in DC and NYC would do well to pay attention to what's going on out in the boonies--they could send a little $$ our way, even.

      All the different environmental groups have different roles. NRDC files lawsuits. LCV does elections.  Nature Conservancy buys land. On and on. But those of you who have money may consider allocating part of your budget to help these beseiged folks out in the states.

      •  seems like the anti-fracking fight (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        beach babe in fl

        is the ideal opportunity to begin building an environmental consciousness in these poorer rural areas.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:08:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  yow, I feel for you tnyd (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limpidglass, beach babe in fl

        Sounds like you're fighting the good fight, and losing to the worst aspects of human nature - ignorance, fear, greed...

        But, I think you also make an argument for action at the federal level: those sorts of obstacles to progress can often only be imposed from "above" (think civil rights), and yeah there would be massive resistance and outpourings of hatred, until the next series of F5 tornado swarms, flooding, and other apocalyptic disasters befall your state, due to climate change. Then it will be all about why the guberment don't help us out enough!

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:20:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have a great concern that Gun Control (12+ / 0-)

    is going to sideline all of the things that are absolutely critical to our survival for something that in the end is very stupid, but not especially critical to our survival.

    But blaming the environmental movement for not getting more environmental regulation passed is pretty disingenuous. Pushing harder during the election doesn't seem likely to have paid off. Without real support from Obama, it may have well caused more environmentalists to stay home.

    The environment is clearly not that important to this president. At least it has not been. I don't think he is anti-environment, but is is clearly way down on his priorities, somewhere below "open more seabeds for drilling". I think his perspective is one of "we have to get the economy moving first, then deal with the environment".

    He is wrong, but its hardly the first time.

    Now is the time to push him hard, but again, I think gun control is going to suck all the wind from the sails.

  •  That's absurd (14+ / 0-)

    Yes, some of the environmental groups are naive but to excuse Obama's inaction on their political foolishness is absurd. That's like saying that an overweight person isn't responsible for their obesity because somebody else refused to count their calories for them. Obama has claimed over and over to be concerned about the environment, he shouldn't require politically expert environmental groups to point him in the right direction.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:49:49 PM PST

  •  I don't see how environmental organizations (11+ / 0-)

    have any power at all to pass legislation.  This is the responsibility of members of congress.  This is the responsibility of the Obama administration and elected officials.  Perhaps environmental organizations didn't try hard enough to influence legislators.   Perhaps they aren't good lobbyists.  Perhaps they don't care enough about the environment or they like to hobnob at cocktail parties.  But it seems very odd to me  to attribute power and blame to an essentially powerless group.

    •  As I suggested above, environmental issues... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DianeNYS, mightymouse, Chi

      ...cannot be "siloed" or "stand alone" initiatives. They must connect with other issues. The same people destroying the environment are the same people against the minimum wage, actually protecting SS, significant infrastructure projects, etc.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:42:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This "study" was done to support a conclusion (4+ / 0-)

      It wasn't designed to discover an unknown conclusion but to support a presumed one. Period.

      "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

      by MargaretPOA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:53:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's not forget the moderates who enable the (13+ / 0-)

    deniers, in fact, are deniers themselves in many ways. As with most progressive issues, without the moderate smokescreen providing the cover of "serious people" being "realistic" and "pragmatic" about what can be done on what time-frame, the hardcore Deniers would be much less potent a force to deal with.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:00:01 PM PST

  •  Back in the late 80s I wrote 5 or 6 of the biggest (9+ / 0-)

    enviro groups - one was the NRDC. I was a new mother and agonized by what I was reading in the newspapers about climate change and what it would do to my son's world. In a well-constructed appeal, if I do say so, I proposed that they collaborate on sponsoring a massive March on Washington for Our Children to get the nation's and the government's attention. One wrote back and said, hmm, interesting idea, we'll have to think about that. The others never responded.

    Obviously, I was naive about the way these groups perceive their roles. Another of the groups I wrote, however - the Sierra Club - has become active in climate issues and organizing in recent years. In Atlanta, when I was among the organizers of Bill McKibben's first event, the Step It Up rallies in 2007, Sierra Club staffers were also actively involved. This was on a mandate from their head office, as I recall.

  •  a variant on the "make me do it" excuse (9+ / 0-)

    that serves to blame the victim for Obama's choices. As if he didn't have free will, and were just an empty vessel waiting for someone to fill him with environmental zeal. Obama cannot fail, he can only be failed, etc.

    No question, the environmental movement has its flaws. Needs to be more effective. Perhaps they don't understand that the powerful don't concede without being forced to, and have too much faith in the reasonableness of the opposition. Perhaps there are too many boutique environmental groups that are too comfortable hobnobbing with the powerful.

    On the other hand, Obama has the power of the bully pulpit, and he can use it, without the backing of environmental groups.

    Why wasn't he in Doha for the latest COP? Why didn't he use the Deepwater Horizon disaster to call for stronger environmental measures? Why does he so rarely speak about climate change in any of his press conferences (or during the campaign) unless someone asks him? Why was he so reluctant to back cap and trade?

    No, whatever lessons the report teaches us, let's not just absolve Obama of blame. He's the president. The buck stops there.

    Let this be one of the lessons then: hold the powerful accountable. Don't take "softly, softly" for an answer. Get clear commitments from politicians, and don't confuse being rude with being assertive.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:10:35 PM PST

    •  Obama has not exactly been asleep on the issue (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shenderson, Lawrence, JayDean

      of the environment.

      This is the President who has more than double electricity generation from wind and solar sources to taking historic steps to reduce carbon pollution.

      The President has also released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025.

      Is it the impression that the President has been lazy on this issue? I mean he only had the entire world falling apart when he took office. Let me see, he had a little matter of saving an economy from falling into a second Great Depression. Dealing with two wars, passing the Affordable Care Act, saving the automobile industry, overturning DADT, and trying to find ways to create jobs, even as the tea bagging Congress tried to block him from doing so.... And let's not forget the many instances of hostage taking by said Congress.... He also cleaned up a major oil spill that was a hellish nightmare....

      Hmm, what's that? Obama just twiddled his thumbs and, in a sense, just played his harp while the issue of the environment burned?

      In December 2009, President Obama and other world leaders came together to negotiate the Copenhagen Accord, an important milestone in which, for the first time, all major developed and developing economies agreed to implement measures to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and to do so in an internationally transparent manner.

      It should be noted that this President has made the largest clean energy investment in American history.

      He is the first to say that a lot more needs to be done, but this President has done a lot, ceratinly a lot more than any other President in this nation's history. So yes, I agree with the study cited in the diary environmental groups can most certainly do a bit more.

      This President faced more crisis in four years than a number of two termed Presidents have faced in 8 years.... Absolutely UNBELIEVABLE.... I get the feeling from many that Obama was just asleep all this time....

      •  He not only saved the auto industry, he actually (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayDean, NedSparks

        managed to shatter the unholy alliance between the U.S. auto industry and Big Oil.  I still shake my head in amazement when I think about that... I've waited two decades to see that happen.

        As it stands now, the U.S. has become the world leader in vehicle electrification:

        The currently best luxury electric car, the Tesla Model S, is built in California.

        The currently best affordable 5 seat electric car, The Nissan Leaf, is built in Tennessee.

        The currently best extended range e.v., the Chevy Volt, is being built in Detroit.

        Excellent comment, btw.  As someone who has been following environmental issues very closely since teenage years and works with environmental groups and NGOs, I've started to tune out people who seem like they are on a crusade to falsely make President Obama look like he is bad on environmental issues.  They really just can't be taken all that seriously, tbh.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:51:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There are twits more useless than Skocpol (6+ / 0-)

    But not many.

    She is the dean of the academic discipline of Sociology - once trumpeted as a more holistic alternative to the viewpoint of economics - and is therefore reasonably held partly accountable for the rapid death of Sociology over the last two decades.  (Your grandkids won't even know what the word is supposed to mean.)

    Sociology and Skocpol in particular, have long been the source of useless insights: e.g., the leaders of large environmental organizations are ineffectual sell-outs.

    Also, there is no Santa Claus.

    The elite environmentalist sell-out was extremely well documented in the debate over NAFTA more than 20 years ago (their pressure might have proved pivotal in blocking the treaty - the marginal legislators were on the fence - but then Bush offered the green elite a cup of coffee at the White House and a scratch behind the ears, they rolled over and cooed, a terrific union-busting vehicle was enabled, and the rest is history).

    Nothing fundamentally changed about any of those potemkin activist organizations (the Sierra Club, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, etc.), when a revolution was clearly needed.

    Fast forward to the present: what an astounding insight to conclude that they remain fundamentally ineffectual (a klatch of Chauncey Gardeners) - even as K street has effectively captured the whole fucking government.

    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

    by Minerva on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:19:07 PM PST

    •  ignoring talk radio makes them ineffectual (0+ / 0-)

      how many citizens volunteering a few hours and dollars here, or protesting, does it take to equal one blowhard with a microphone reading koch bros talking points to tens of thousands from a soapbox festooned with the state university football logos?

      skocpol's work may not mention talk radio because it may be off her radar just as it is the major environmental group's radar (while it kicks their ass).

      the tea party is the talk radio party

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:56:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i don't see mckibben agreeing (12+ / 0-)

    in that obama is not to blame, rather he seems to find the critique of activists useful. and he takes quite a swipe at skopcol herself:

    This is no juggernaut, but it is growing steadily — at the moment 210 campuses have active fossil-fuel divestment movements, for instance. (One hopes Professor Skocpol will work hard to push the effort at Harvard. Those of us who fought to get her tenure there in the early ’80s would be grateful if she used the freedom it affords to make a difference beyond her fine scholarship.)
    top heavy environmentalism always has been a problem, but there are no excuses for obama's lack of focus on climate issues. from his speeches, it's clear that he gets that we have a serious problem, so his inaction is hard to understand. but there are indications that he is going to get much more serious about it in his second term.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:23:59 PM PST

  •  Everyone fiddles while Eaarth burns. nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayDean, blueoasis, mightymouse
  •  Obama is as much at fault... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CT Hank, mightymouse

    as all the other leaders of the so-called first world.

  •  I'm guessing that the idea that most people (0+ / 0-)

    don't want the proposed solutions (IE, enforced global behavior mdification) doesn't get mentioned, nor does the fact that such a global enforcement regime can't possibly work.

    Unfortunately, Naomi Klein was right, and unfortunately she was wrong. She was right in her description of what would be required for emissions-side global warming mtigation to work. She was dead wrong in thinking that such a system is possible.

    Global emssions regulation will not happen, and the amount of force required to make it work would probaby kill more people than doing nothing will. So the answer has to not global emissions controls, or nothing, but something else.


    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

    by Leftie Gunner on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:16:48 PM PST

  •  McKibben was not very pleased with the (6+ / 0-)

    administration when it refused the solar panels for the White House. He wrote about that on his blog at the time. I think it's reaching to say that McKibben is blaming the environmental groups and letting the administration off scott free.

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:19:56 PM PST

  •  Very glad to see you hammering on... (6+ / 0-)

    ...this subject.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:26:52 PM PST

  •  Not fair to call it a "rout" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beach babe in fl, ivote2004, ybruti

    The cap & trade legislation passed the House in 2009 & if we had a functioning Senate without an inane fillibuster rule, it probably would have passed there too.! The climate can't wait.

    by B Amer on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:38:28 PM PST

  •  Useful scapegoats? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZhenRen, limpidglass, JayDean

    The evidence on global warming has been around for decades now.  For at least the past decade, there is no doubt among anyone who understands science or at least trusts scientists.

    The blame goes to politicians, think tanks, and others who take in money from big oil to basically lie and obfuscate.

    Obama shares the blame too.  Global warming isn't a priority.  He's working on it, but not like it is the biggest threat to America and the world.  Which it is.

  •  Oh my... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, samanthab, mightymouse

    I wouldn't know about climate change if it weren't for the scientists who reported it, and I've known about global warming since the mid 1980s, at least.

    No, the real culprits are the members of the wealthy class, and their cadre of enabler and supporters.

    I don't buy this... it's a distraction, and yes, Mr. Obama has a bigger microphone than any scientist who walks the land. He is complicit, along with the majority of mostly wealthy senators and members of congress.

    let's not deceive ourselves.

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

    by ZhenRen on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:06:18 PM PST

  •  Others have said environmental movement failed (3+ / 0-)

    here is David Suzuki - an important environmentalist

    he was part of efforts in the 70's to stop dams, logging and mines in Canada and elsewhere

    he says that these incremental efforts failed

    he also says in the talk that someone predicts that the human species will be gone in 100 years

    note that that is saying more than this will be just another civilization that collapses, it is the human species will kill itself off

    start at 26 minutes to hear his talk

    he uses the metaphor that humans are in a car going 100 miles down the road but are in the trunk

    so if we trust the science, it is not that hard to predict the end of civilization as we know it and humans are too dumb to put aside their power and stuff to worship the biosphere.

    just back from Peru in the amazon and Andes. Us "moderns" are not smart enough to learn from indigenous people. They worshiped the sun, mountains, streams, etc. and we worship the economy. The man made stuff is taken to be sacrosanct  while the biosphere which we all depend on, and we don't understand, is simply taken for granted.\

    what a wonderful way to continue to have hope for a professor from Harvard to blame the environmental community that has failed to stop the most powerful corporation in history, the extraction corporations. And the corporations have taken over governments - like Canada and the US who are hell bent at extraction as quickly as possible

  •  Isn't that just special (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZhenRen, FogCityJohn, mightymouse

    It's not the most powerful man on earth with the totally unused bully pulpit. It's those little people, they just didn't put enough effort into saving the world.  

    So DailyKos of you.

    •  Daily Kos (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eddie C

      is becoming... an arm of the Democratic Party, an apparatus to disseminate the latest talking points.

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:07:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I always find it amusing . . . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivote2004, Eddie C, mightymouse

      when ordinary citizens are blamed for the failures of politicians.  The critique borders on the idiotic.  

      First, and most obvious, ordinary citizens and environmental organizations lack the legal and constitutional authority to take the actions needed to address climate change and other environmental issues.  When we elect people to offices, we generally have an expectation that they will at least attempt to do the things they promised to do in their campaigns.  

      Second, I wonder what it says about our Democratic leaders if they can only be compelled to do the right thing for the survival of the planet by some kind of credible threat of retribution at the polls.  The premise of the cited article seems to be that we must expect Democrats to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry unless ordinary citizens can figure out a way to make Democratic politicians afraid they'll lose their offices if they fail to do the things they promised to do in the first place.  

      Finally, I wonder what world people like Skocpol live in.  Reading this kind of critique, one would think that your average American is sitting around all day with lots of leisure time both to educate themselves on enormously complex issues and to engage in activism.  In fact, though, most Americans don't enjoy that luxury.  If they're fortunate, they have a full-time job and maybe a little time off, in which they try to tend to the other necessities of life.  Making these kinds of changes happen is itself a full-time job, which is precisely why we pay our elected representatives to do these things.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:40:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  this article is provocative and wrong, imo. (0+ / 0-)

      it doesn't say the diarist agrees with every word, though ...

      we are having a good conversation.

      it's interesting to hear what people have to say.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:05:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm still wondering what happened (0+ / 0-)

    to Al Gore.

  •  Learning > Workability > Effectiveness (0+ / 0-)

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    Realizing what is not working can be useful.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    Community self-assessment can be useful.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    Understanding the dynamics can help us redesign for greater effectiveness.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    "Fault" and "Blame" are not workable. "Make wrong" is not workable. (And by my making those observations, it is my intention to NOT be blaming anyone, or accusing anyone of blaming anyone, or finding fault, or accusing anyone of finding fault.... rather, I'd like to point out the difficulty in our language of crafting truly empowering, win-win communications... which is ultimately the basis for "what works".)

    Dis-empowering our allies for doing less than they could or should weakens our alliances.  But sometimes temporarily we may need to go thru those emotional and mental processes -- "What's wrong with me?" -- "What's wrong with you?" -- "What's wrong with us?" -- "What's wrong with them?".... to be able to activate the learning processes that lead to designing workable approaches for working together to make things better.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    What is at stake is, well, everything. Therefore effectiveness is, well, important. Therefore letting go of old approaches that were less workable and designing and adopting new approaches that can be more workable ... would be, well, wise.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    Everybody on this thread is well meaning. Everyone cares about the health and well being of our ecosystem. Everyone here is way ahead of the curve compared to the mainstream of the citizenry. But even we are just feeling our way forward, making our own ways from old paradigms as we craft the seeds of something new that will be sustainably workable for life on planet Earth.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    Let's move beyond, and co-create what is workable.

    Learning >> Workability >> Effectiveness.

    #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

    by ivote2004 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:10:31 PM PST

  •  Just went to a local meeting on the Carbon Crisis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beach babe in fl

    Seems that greater minds than mine are estimating that within 4 years we will have reached that Carbon Climax...from which there is no return.  

     And no political body is doing anything about it!!!!

    But we can each join others in our communties (real & virtual) and make it happen.   Talk about it to at least 2 people everyday...and not just people who are in the know already.

    "World On The Edge" by Lestger Brown was mentioned.    (free download on the internet)

    We need a  "true cost community" and that means we need a carbon tax.  (easier to implement country by country and environmentally better than the more unwieldy cap & trade which required int. cooperation)  suggested that said the carbon tax start small with built in increases over time thereby allowing industry to change their ways without great impairment to the economy...

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:25:58 PM PST

  •  so let me get this straight (0+ / 0-)

    Climate change is the fault of the people trying to stop it? Gimmie a break.

  •  env groups ignore talk radio- this is the result (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    skocpol is right but doesn't know why- it's the fucking radio

    the tea party is the talk radio base. and how many younger environmentalists have grown up in the talk radio paradigm that dominates US politics today.

    here's one manifestation, from the link in my sig:

    Rush Limbaugh was recently named the Climate Change Misinformer of the Year by Media Matters.

    Of 120 top ranked football programs, 71, or approximately 59% broadcast on Limbaugh stations (see below). Some broadcast on more than one Limbaugh station and accounted for 170 of Limbaugh's approximately 600 stations, or 28%. 15 of last year's final 16 NCAA tournament basketball teams (except BYU) broadcast on Limbaugh stations.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:49:43 AM PST

  •  talk radio kicks environmentalist ass (0+ / 0-)

    the tea party is just a recent iteration of the talk radio base.

    skocpol's mistake is not identifying what has made denial acceptable.

    there is NO organized opposition to the deniers' best weapon.  environmental groups and all progressive groups should have figured that out a long time ago.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:02:46 AM PST

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