I’ve argued for a long time that environmentalists are the cheap dates (or battered spouses) of the Democratic Party, but even Obama’s shout out to climate change in his inaugural address isn’t satisfying them. There was quite a negative reaction to Theta Skocpol’s critical report on why climate legislation failed in Obama’s first term because environmental groups hate being told they’re a bunch of losers. To the contrary, the Center for American Progress and Grist.org know who they want to blame—“denialists,” yes, but they’re even more angry with . . . President Obama.
But what exactly can Obama do? There’s zero chance of any climate legislation passing Congress. (Or maybe he can slip something in the immigration bill?) The EPA will try to extend regulation of greenhouse gases, and while this is a bad prospect the EPA regulatory process is very slow—too slow for the impatient greens (and it won’t work anyway). He can continue to block the Keystone pipeline, but that’s not really much in the grand scheme of things.
So it should come as no surprise that the greens are going to start holding their breath until they turn blue, figuratively speaking. The Sierra Club has grandly announced that it is going to start engaging in civil disobedience, because, you know, they’re just like Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King. From Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune:
Next month, the Sierra Club will officially participate in an act of peaceful civil resistance. We’ll be following in the hallowed footsteps of Thoreau, who first articulated the principles of civil disobedience 44 years before John Muir founded the Sierra Club.
Some of you might wonder what took us so long. Others might wonder whether John Muir is sitting up in his grave. In fact, John Muir had both a deep appreciation for Thoreau and a powerful sense of right and wrong. And it’s the issue of right versus wrong that has brought the Sierra Club to this unprecedented decision.
For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism. . . . blah, blah, blah . . . unconscionable. . . blah . . . The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. . . blah, blah . . . In doing so, we’re issuing a challenge to President Obama . . . time is running out . . . blah . . . We cannot afford to wait, and neither can President Obama.
I’ve interpolated a bit here, so Brune doesn’t pass out on his way to turning blue. I’m guessing Sierra Club membership is down at the moment. Rumor has it that most environmental groups have experienced a significant loss of members and a decline in revenues. There have been lots of layoffs. I’m sure they can all find green jobs somewhere else.