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The Answer to Climate Change Is Organizing

The Answer to Climate Change Is Organizing

Dealing with global warming is always going to be about the balance of power.

As Louisiana digs out and Lake Tahoe evacuates, it feels to me that, with each passing week, the pace of climate destruction increases. And so do researchers’ fears that we’ve underestimated the vulnerability of the planet. Already we’re seeing real disruption of the most basic forces on Earth: the jet stream, the Gulf Stream, the hydrological cycle. From regularly interviewing scientists, I know that their sense of our peril grows—especially the sense that we must act quickly, making enormous changes by decade’s end. And, at the same time, I sense the growing ability of the fossil-fuel industry and its friends in politics and finance to finesse the increasing public outrage. Just as, in 1990, the industry built an intricate architecture of climate denial that cost us three decades, now they’re erecting a similar buttress, constructed of something that is not quite denial but is just as dangerous. They imply that we have plenty of time, that they’re moving as fast as they can. They’re getting good at spreading the message that there’s as much danger in moving too fast as in delaying too long. If they succeed with this grotesque agenda, they’ll lock in such extravagantly high temperatures that I fear the damage will overwhelm our societies.

The only way I can think of to meet this challenge is with more mass organizing. Young people are now fully engaged and leading the way; we’re seeing remarkable activism in frontline and indigenous communities. But there’s a group that, I think, is not pulling its weight, and it’s a group I’m now a part of. Call us “experienced Americans”—the baby boomers and silent generations that make up a huge percentage of the population, own a remarkable share of its financial assets, and vote in large numbers.
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