In what is being billed as the biggest act of climate change civil disobedience in history, a group of 70 environmental activists, including Bill McKibben and Dan Choi, are sitting-in near the White House and being arrested to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
When the largest action is 70 people, it certainly suggests a lack of direct action on the issue. We’ve discussed at this blog and it has been discussed at other blogs what the purpose of protests are? Do they accomplish anything? In terms of directly changing policy, the answer is pretty rarely. To raise awareness about an issue though, it can be an effective tactic. Will this small group of activists do much to make Americans care about climate change? Probably not.
But really, why not raise the stakes a bit? It is shocking, amazing, and incredibly depressing that Americans are doing nothing about climate change, even though it is no longer “impending,” and is actually happening–the evidence we have seen in this country in 2011 through the unusual, but increasingly common, number of extreme weather events–tornadoes destroying 2 major cities, some of the largest snowstorms in the history of the Northeast, one of the 2 worst droughts in Texas history. Yet, Americans reactions range from denial to resignation. Polls consistently show that climate change ranks at the very bottom of issues of concern for 2012 presidential voters. In a poll on Megyn Kelly’s FoxNews show, 19% said we should research how to fight against an alien invasion while 3% said that climate change was worth researching.
In this atmosphere, is there any reason not to engage in increasingly radical actions to stop climate change?