Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Is the Climate Movement at a Tipping Point?

Climate

Is the climate movement at a political tipping point? Could right now, 2015, be that moment in history, be something akin to the 1964-1965 period for the civil rights movement? Those were the years that two major pieces of legislation, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, ended legal segregation in the South and opened the way for a whole series of positive social, cultural and political changes in the U.S. in the years since.

2015 might be a turning point year, but it definitely won’t be if we don’t rise to the occasion. History and our grandchildren are calling on us to do so right now. Photo credit: Shutterstock

If looked at in that light, the answer is almost certainly “no.” Given the dominance of the Senate and the House by climate denier Republicans, it is extremely unrealistic to expect major national climate legislation until 2017 at the earliest.

However, there are other things at work, three in particular:

  • The roughly 50 percent drop in the price of oil on world markets, which negatively affects both oil and gas production and profits and, therefore, the willingness of banks and money people to invest in the oil and gas industry; the serious overproduction/debt/lack of needed infrastructure/decline in supply/decline in prices worldwide crises for the shale gas (fracking) drilling companies; and the deepening difficulties of the coal industry caused mainly by competition from renewables and gas, low prices, and tightening federal regulations directed primarily at them.
  • The dramatic rise in renewables, particularly wind and solar, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Deborah Rogers Lawrence, writing on Jan. 3 on the EnergyPolicyForum website, quotes from a recent report issued by Bloomberg New Energy Finance: "By 2030, the world’s power mix will have transformed: from today’s system with two-thirds fossil fuels to one with over half from zero-emission energy sources. Renewables will command over 60% of the 5,579GW of new capacity and 65% of the $7.7 trillion of power investment.’ And that is without much shift in current policy to incentivize renewable production. If countries were to get serious about climate change, these figures could presumably be accelerated.”

In addition, 2015 is the year that the Pope is going to put forward a major encyclical and convene a meeting of religious leaders with the immediate objective of bringing pressure to bear on the December United Nations Climate Conference in Paris. That conference is on track to come up with some kind of a climate agreement, the big question being whether it’s more-of-the-same that we’ve seen for years and years or a badly-needed change of direction. Without question, the already-happening focus on this conference by the broad mix of people worldwide supporting strong action on climate, including the Pope, will undoubtedly have a big political impact, maybe even with the world’s governments.

What about that climate-denier-run Congress? Will they be able to fundamentally alter these powerful economic and political developments?

Without question, they will try. Indeed, they already are with their effort to ram through the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline despite Obama’s announcement that he will veto that legislation. They intend to try to reduce the Environmental Protection Agency budget to hamstring its already-far-from-consistent efforts to do its job and, in particular, to try to slow or stop its plans to enact regulations for the electrical power generation industry. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried very hard to come up with a package of financial gifts to our “poor and struggling” oil, gas and coal companies in their time of need.

Without question, the climate movement will need to rise to the challenge of these regressive efforts, as it is already doing on the Keystone XL front.

But we need to be doing much more than this. We have some wind at our back, and we need to escalate our tactics.

It would be a very big mistake for the grassroots-based climate movement to get too caught up in the ins-and-outs of Capitol Hill battles. Indeed, the biggest contribution we can make to those defensive tactics is to do build up the political will of the American people for action on climate.

How can we best do this? In my view, learning from the civil rights movement and many other successful social movements down through history, we can best do so by escalating strategic, well-thought-through, nonviolent direct action and other visible, demonstrative actions in the streets, as massive and coordinated as we can make them.

2015 might be a turning point year, but it definitely won’t be if we don’t rise to the occasion. History and our grandchildren are calling on us to do so right now.

Ted Glick is the national campaign coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Follow Ted on Twitter.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Leave Fossil Fuels Untapped to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change, Study Urges

3 Ways a Republican-Controlled Congress Can Herald Action on Climate Change

GOP Agenda Promises Worst Attack on Environmental Protections in Decades

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less
A woman scoops water in a dry riverbed near Kataboi village in remote Turkana in northern Kenya. Marisol Grandon / Department for International Development

By Raya A. Al-Masri

Different strategies for resisting the spread of the new coronavirus have emerged in different countries. But the one that has cut through everywhere is simple and, supposedly, can be done by anyone: "Wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds."

Read More Show Less
A USGS map showing the location of a 6.5 magnitude quake that shook Idaho Tuesday evening. USGS

Idaho residents were rattled Tuesday evening by the biggest earthquake to shake the state in almost 40 years.

Read More Show Less