All posts tagged: global warming

How do we mobilize society to stop global warming?

I just read Bill McKibben’s terrifying new article in Rolling Stone. I won’t recount the math here, but it’s enough to get anyone working on social issues (as I do) to question their priorities. Clearly, we need a massive social effort to confront the power of the fossil fuel industry — and we need it soon (i.e. yesterday). But we face major hurdles in constructing such a movement. McKibben explains: Most of us are fundamentally ambivalent about going green: We like cheap flights to warm places, and we’re certainly not going to give them up if everyone else is still taking them. Since all of us are in some way the beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel, tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself – it’s as if the gay-rights movement had to be constructed entirely from evangelical preachers, or the abolition movement from slaveholders. [my emphasis] Social movements are born out of collective self-interest — but the self-interest has to be felt. As Phil Aroneanu, also of 350.org, explained …

The Problem of Collective Action in the United States

Picking up from yesterday’s post, the central problem I have attempted to apprehend from so many angles has to do with political behavior — especially collective action in the context of the United States over the past 50 or so years. How and why do people act together collectively to advance or defend their common interests? How and why do people not act together for the same — or even resist collective action that would seem to benefit them? In my estimation, social movements in the United States do not presently have anywhere close to the capacity needed to mount sustained challenges to the entrenched power structures we are up against, at least when it comes to issues for which change would threaten the current economic order (e.g. progressive taxation, public education, public health care, cutting military spending, public elections, corporate personhood, financial regulation, global warming, and so on). Thus, Occupy Wall Street has been something of a beacon of hope to many. But momentarily seizing the national narrative didn’t send the bankers and Wall …