How Did Climate Skeptics and U.S. Politics Block Action on Climate Change?

Naming the Problem – What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight against Global Warming(145 Page pdf, Theda Skocpol, Symposium on the Politics of America’s Fight Against Global Warming, Harvard University, Feb. 2013)

Also discussed here: Study: It’s not Obama’s Fault that Enviro Groups Botched the Climate Fight -A Harvard study blames the political blindness of environmental groups for failure to pass climate legislation.(Suzanne Goldenberg, Mother Jones, Jan. 15, 2013)

And here: Beyond baby steps: Analyzing the cap-and-trade flop(Bill McKibben, Grist, Jan. 14, 2013)

Today we review a paper prepared by a Harvard political scientist that analyses the trends of recent American politics which led to the successful blocking of policy and actions to mitigate climate change which had impacts far beyond North America in international conferences and protocols, despite the election of a President who ran on a platform (in 2008, not 2012) to address climate change. In looking at factors that contributed, she noted how the acid rain treaty and legislation in the late 80s (and the Montreal Ozone Protocol in 1987- the first time that an international treaty was achieved using scientific modelling) led environmental leaders to use these successes to emphasize narrow modeling and scientific solutions to address climate change. Unfortunately as it turned out, they neglected or underestimated the need to counter the growing right wing opposition which relied almost exclusively on using the media to undermine the scientific bases and broaden its public appeal. She gives some hope for progressive climate legislation after 2016, provided broad public support is cultivated. As a side note, the same shift occurred to the north of the U.S.  in Canada, hastened by the election of a government more influenced by the oil industry than its predecessor.

climate skeptics

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE


One Response

  1. […] climate negotiations, the US has been conveniently labeled as obstructionist by climate change advocates as it first pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol and subsequently failed to […]

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