Climate campaigner and Grist contributor Ken Ward has written an opinion piece that asks an important question: Why do U.S. environmentalists remain irrationally committed to a losing strategy?
Mr. Ward passionately calls on the mainstream environmental movement to cease accommodating industry on the issue of climate change by their support of the Waxman-Markey bill working its way through Congress. To Ward, Waxman-Markey is a “travesty” and environmentalists have framed their decision as choosing between “supporting a joke climate bill, or giving up”, both of which are “forms of despair”.
While mainstream environmentalists have accommodated industry by supporting Waxman-Markey, Ward argues that we must move in a different direction:
“intrepid folks working outside the boundaries of our major organizations have honed all the core elements necessary for an alternative U.S. climate campaign that is pragmatic and idealistic, without being naïve.”
Ward argues, correctly, that the Waxman-Markey bill is woefully inadequate and shouldn’t be supported in its current form. The Breakthrough Institute has written a collection of analyses that show, among other things, that the complete utilization of carbon offsets in the bill could allow emissions in U.S. capped sectors to rise at a business as usual rate through 2030, and how the RES provision will do nothing to increase renewable energy deployment beyond business as usual projections. The latter analysis has since been confirmed by subsequent analyses by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
But it was surprising to see that Ward’s alternative to the environmental community’s accommodation is neither pragmatic nor idealistic, and is wholly naïve.