I was thinking a bit more about a point David raised yesterday: While it’s dandy that groups outside the fold of the mainstream environmental movement, from sportsmen to evangelicals, are expressing concern about global warming, how do we know wily conservatives won’t be able to dance their way out of ambitious and necessary reforms with toothless rhetoric, more industry subsidies, and “fake solutions”?
It’s a hugely important question, and I won’t pretend to have a crystal ball in my cubicle. But I strongly believe it’s a question that greens and progressives must find a way to answer — otherwise our best-laid plans and proposals will remain just that.
The Bush administration has mastered the art of Orwellian naming (“Healthy Forests,” etc.) and bait-and-switch rhetoric (we’re “addicted to oil” — let’s reshuffle research budgets without committing to advancing the ball). That we know. The question is: How’s the sales job going? Better or worse than last year, or four years ago?
I won’t argue that the tide has turned, but I see encouraging signs. The trick is having credible spokesmen within various communities who know the difference between a lemon and a tennis ball. And such people exist. Yes, the White House can try to peddle just ethanol subsidies, but the Evangelical Climate Initiative is explicitly calling for federal legislation to “reduce the carbon dioxide emissions,” as is the National Wildlife Federation (which includes a network of nearly a million members of local hook-and-bullet clubs). The problem for the White House is that it has to please both its industry supporters (subsidies may do the trick) and its voters, who also listen to other voices. NWF President Larry Schweiger, for example, has recently been talking to hunters, anglers, and others about the need to cap CO2 emissions immediately, and set in place standards to decrease emissions by 2 percent annually. In a recent NWF poll, 75 percent of sportsmen agreed that emissions needed to be reduced.
If you tune into the “Tony Dean Outdoors Show,” read the columns of Pat Wray, or peruse the books of Jim Posewitz, you will see more examples of leaders within the hook-and-bullet community whose policy savvy on a range of environmental topics would do a green proud. Dean supported Bush in 2000, but since then has become one of his biggest critics on environmental policies, campaigning for Kerry in 2004 and defending the Endangered Species Act from recent GOP attacks.
If some unlikely suspects don’t join the push for meaningful federal action to curb global warming (whether or not they sign up for the Sierra Club or accept the label “environmentalist”), we haven’t got enough mojo for a movement. Let’s seek out those with the credibility to talk to varying communities. Remember that no one gets all their news from FOX.
(I’ll keep future posts to a tidier length.)