Environmentalists believe the climate change movement is losing political muscle and getting clobbered during elections by “a well-funded denial machine.”
“We have regressed to a bar so low that it’s practically touching the ground,” climate activist Chloe Maxmin wrote Monday in The Nation.
And part of the reason for the low bar, according to Maxmin, is that Republicans and climate skeptics are making headway in their attempts to sway public opinion on global warming. She chalked up the climate movement’s pitfalls to a lack of organization and the inability to deal with ridicule global warming.
“The climate movement’s political-organizing strategies have failed to influence the conversation,” she wrote. “Three facets of the election season expose the climate movement’s profound lack of political muscle.”
She pointed to evidence showing that environmental policies made up a total of 14 minutes and three seconds during presidential debates in 2000, and only 5 minutes and 14 seconds in 2004. The number of mentions about climate change policies nosedived in 2012. Talk of global warming simply does draw the kind of attention that it did in previous elections.
President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not helping matters, Maxmin believes, mostly because they make favorable comments about fracking. The former secretary of state also appears to use climate change talk as a weapon against Republicans, she wrote, rather than something that has placed earth on “the brink of irreversible catastrophe.”
Clinton did change her cadence on global warming after Sen. Bernie Sanders left the race, according to the news site Climate Home. She talks a lot about “clean energy” jobs but rarely says “climate change” in speeches anymore since winning Sanders’ endorsement.
The new site found that “since Sanders endorsed Clinton on July 12, the full focus of the Clinton campaign has swung to Trump,” and in “38 speeches since that date, Clinton mentioned climate change specifically eight times.” That’s only once per every five speeches.
Even so, the Democratic nominee is the environmentalists’ only hope this election, she added, since Republican Donald Trump “is a racist, sexist, bigoted demagogue who denies climate change.”
While concern about global warming has increased recently, polls still find that the climate is not a top issue among most Americans.
A YouGov poll of 18,000 people in 17 countries in February found that less than 10 percent of Americans rank global warming as their biggest concern. Only Saudi Arabians were less concerned about global warming at 5.7 percent.
Another poll conducted in November by Fox News found only 3 percent of Americans list global warming as their top concern. The Fox News poll came out just before Obama met with world leaders in Paris to discuss an agreement to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.
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