Climate takes over the environmental movement

"climate change" on chalkboardIn the year 2000, the hot environmental issues in the U.S. were logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and other roadless areas, salmon-impeding dams on the Lower Snake River in the Northwest, genetically modified foods, the WTO’s impacts on environmental regulation, and, oh yeah, that climate problem. A decade later, it seems like it’s all climate, all the time — thanks in no small part to a certain ex-vice president (more on him below). The big green groups are pouring most of their efforts into climate and energy issues. Smaller activist groups that have traditionally focused on wilderness, endangered species, rivers, you name it, have scrambled to recast their efforts with an explicit global-warming link. New grassroots groups have sprung up solely for the purpose of battling this crisis. And internet-driven campaigns like Step It Up and have converted millions of people around the world into climate activists, if just for a few hours. On the plus side, it’s an amazing concentration of energy dedicated to solving a ginormous problem. On the minus, it’s nudged a lot of other issues out of the spotlight, from water pollution to GMOs to toxic air emissions.