by Allie Carter, Reform Immigration FOR America
Yesterday, I attended a talk with Joe Romm, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of the award-winning blog Climate Progress. He writes with conviction on the spectrum of science and policy issues within the climate and clean energy movement in the US and beyond. While we are facing setbacks on policy, he said, it is the communications that need to be revitalized. Americans are “waiting to be rallied”, and a new, more aggressive narrative will spur us to action.
Dr. Romm is a physicist and worked in the Department of Energy for several years. It was not until his brother lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, and he spoke with climate scientists on how dire climate change really is, that he realized the need for effective science-based communication on global warming and launched his blog.
Unfortunately, we are working against opponents who have co-opted our language and declared clean energy and sacrifice not the American way of life. Big polluters - “pollutocrats”, as Dr. Romm called them - have pored money and manpower into crafting this message. “We are in an unprecedented situation where believe in anti-science and policies that will literally lead to destruction of American way of life is now a litmus test” for politicians, and fossil fuel profiteers will pay our representatives to uphold the status quo.
Dr. Romm’s outlook was stark, a reflection of the global instability resulting from climate change. We are in our third year of record food prices and rioting, yet most of the US has not yet felt the financial squeeze. He predicted, if we keep on our current projections, some kind of collapse in the coming decades.
If climate activists can defeat the polluters’ messaging machine, however, we will gain the support of the majority of Americans who support clean energy. “I have no doubt the public supports and could easily be continued to be convinced to support a climate bill... they are concerned about their energy bills going way up, but they are willing to pay more for clean air and water.” I know young people are ready to change our lifestyle of consumption - I see that everyday. But will the older generations shift their priorities as well?
"We will make this transformation," Dr. Romm said, "and the youth will live to see it." The only question is if our leaders will do it proactively now, or continue to put it off. I know young people can develop the narrative needed to shape our policy. As long as we continue to come together at events like Powershift, we can collaboratively define our story.