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The New Politics of Climate Change

As climate change accelerates, the political environment will start to boil. It’s happening already.

More and more ordinary people are beginning to connect the dots between extreme weather, rising climate related death tolls, collapsing ecosystems, refugee/resource crises, and other grave anomalies.

The political outcome of all this will either be a reactionary or progressive response.

On the reactionary side, the tendency will be to put up strong national defenses and seek out convenient sacrificial lambs such as migrants and refugees. It will attempt a screeching halt to cosmopolitanism, liberalism, and globalism.

On the progressive side, either some of the old parties will broadly transform themselves or new parties, such as the Greens, will seize new ground. Here the tendency would ideally be to aggressively endeavor to bring about a rapid phase of global/local decarbonization combined with generously funded technological-ecological innovation whether geoengineered or otherwise.

Whether we choose the former or the latter, will in large part be due to whoever has the greater political will as well as the power to transform that will into effective organizations.

In Europe, particularly in Germany, the Green party is beginning to show that something like this can and might be done effectively.

In the United States, both mainstream parties have yet to show a serious concern, other than mouthing platitudes, about the potential catastrophic threat to long term health and wealth.

Due to the two-party system in the United States, the Greens have a formidable barrier to political entry to confront. However, either a shake up in their party leadership or, better yet, a defection of a major political figure (such as Bernie Sanders) to their camp would definitely help their cause.

But if the US Greens are ever to have a chance at power of any kind, now is the time for action.

To make this happen though, cultural and intellectual institutions have to engage their time, energy, creativity, and money to make the party “hip” “cool” and “talked-about”. In many ways the same socio-cultural strategies applied during the civil rights movement and other minority movements would be equally valid here.

Thus, it is conceivable that events such as “Earth Marches”, “Green Demonstrations” and other kinds of fervent activism would help turn the tide. The stakes are just as high as they were when MLK marched on Washington. Perhaps instead of “Occupy” we need something like “Breathe”. In short, we need our best minds and hearts to throw their support towards a new political direction. Green needs to become the new color of the land.

 

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