Ever since federal climate legislation crashed and burned in 2010, people have been analyzing what went wrong — and that’s all to the good. There’s plenty to be learned from this sad story, and I’ve been one of many people engaged in the effort. As the climate campaign unfolded I wrote a book about it called The Climate War, and later I left the sidelines to join the Environmental Defense Fund because I wanted to do everything I could to help turn that failure into success. At EDF I joined a group of people who were thinking deeply about these issues and who restructured our climate work in response.
So I was eager to read the new report [PDF] by Theda Skocpol, a scholar who drew from my reporting, among other sources. Skocpol concludes that environmentalists failed to anticipate or effectively respond to the rise of Tea Party-fueled opposition to climate action. I completely agree with that criticism. But I part ways with Skocpol on some of her larger points.
Skocpol asserts that strategic missteps by environmentalists — not the Great Recession, nor President Obama’s decision to drive healt... Read more