Fri May 16th, 2008 at 05:22:45 AM EST
Ann Pettifor, writing in The Green Room at the BBC, argues that the green movement needs to take lessons from the civil rights movement.
Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest - How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being, writes that "there are over one - maybe even two - million organisations (worldwide) working toward ecological sustainability and social justice".
And yet... and yet... there is no real climate change movement. There is no organised effort leading society towards a legislative framework that would urgently drive down greenhouse gas emissions across the board, and begin to sequester carbon dioxide.
Not in the UK, or in the US, or internationally. The "movement" that Hawken refers to is, he notes, "atomised" and "largely ignored".
Diary rescue by Migeru
Despite polls showing increasing public concern about the effects of climate change,
green organisations focus on individual ("change your lightbulbs") or community ("recycle, reuse, reduce, localise") action.
They fail to highlight the need for the kind of structural change that can only be brought about by governmental action.
Governments helpfully collude in this atomisation and fragmentation of action and reaction.
The population at large instinctively understands that they alone, or even in community, cannot deal with the threat of climate change.
They are acutely aware that while individuals may take action, others may become "freeriders"...
In the UK, Ipsos Mori polled public attitudes to climate change in July 2007.
Seventy percent "strongly agreed" or "tended to agree" that "the government should take the lead in combating climate change, even if it means using the law to change people's behaviour".
Sceptics may well say that people will always tell the nice lady with the clipboard what makes them look good, but in the privacy of the polling booth are likely to vote against any politician who interferes with their "right" to a 4X4.
Throughout history, social movements have focused on the need for government action.
The anti-slavery movement sought to change laws that permitted slavery.
The suffragette movement only ensured votes for women once discriminatory laws had been displaced; the anti-apartheid movement was only successful once apartheid laws had been removed.
In the US, the black civil rights movement campaigned from 1947 until the introduction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act to end discrimination in certain spheres.
Today...governmental action is unpopular and out of fashion.
So...has the ideological fashion for "minimal government" (itself a right-wing frame) discouraged the green movement from pressing for the necessary changes in the law?
Or, worse, has the framing been so successful that large-scale governmental intervention now seems impossible?