Environmentalists Doing It Wrong, Again

April 10

Want to see Tom get annoyed? Of course you do. Well then tune in and pull up a chair. The article that got to me was so exasperating because it’s 2014 and it’s the New York Times. It’s too late in the day and too beside-the-real-point for a publication such as the Times to do this, though I’m not saying such a thing is impossible at my own publication either. I can’t decide whether to link to it or not. I think I won’t.

I’ll place it squarely in the category of Concern Trolling, a great conceptual meme that identifies opinions that purport to be on your side and just trying to help, but function in the exact opposite way. I won’t get into motives here because I don’t know what they are and it doesn’t make any difference.

The piece says that ‘environmentalists’ are using bad ‘tactics’ in drawing comparisons between current weather catastrophes and climate change. Any linkage to a specific event can’t be specifically proven, but that’s not the stated concern of this piece. The ‘concern’ is that as a tactic it can ‘backfire’ and not win over conservatives to climate change action. Not win over conservatives! The article doesn’t place ALL the blame on faulty environmentalist tactics. It pauses to include what may be the most understated disclaimer in history: “Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming.” Some! Really???

Now to the ‘backfire’ part of this. This is just maddening. If environmentalists aren’t careful, it says, sufficient support for an adequate policy response might go away. Go away! As though it was ever even close to being there in the first place. They cite Al Gore’s 2006 ‘Inconvenient Truth’ as contributing to backlash and division. Do they think no one has any memory whatsoever? Let me remind those who don’t. Before “Inconvenient Truth’ there was close to ZERO widespread public concern about climate change. This film was a watershed in opening people’s eyes to the pending climate calamity and getting people to take the issue seriously. The backlash was not about the particulars of the argument, the backlash was against how effective it was in bringing the nation closer to actually doing something about it. The article says a better ‘tactic’ is to emphasize ‘popular solutions.’ Only one problem with ‘popular solutions.’ They don’t come ANYWHERE CLOSE TO BEING ADEQUATE solutions.

And finally, please please just stop saying it is the responsibility of ‘environmentalists’ to come up with tactics to persuade the rest of us, who by implication are perfectly entitled to sit back and not take our responsibilities on this issue seriously unless and until ‘environmentalists’ come up with arguments that are appealing to us in every way. Gaaaaah!

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.
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