But, the tone of much of today’s environmental leadership is shrill and talk is of failure. The future is painted in apocalyptic colors with a multitude of bright black and white choices.
Global warming has come to dominate almost all conversations and rationalize all positions. Unfortunately, the doomsday approach is reducing public support, damaging the credibility of environmental science and pushing legitimate discussions into the polarized politics that characterize Washington, DC’s advocacy conversation.
The movement is losing adherents and gaining opponents at the very moment people’s concerns about global warming and air and water pollution remains high or is increasing.
Polls show the public supports the Keystone Pipeline and resists the urgency of cap and trade legislation. They also record increased support for domestic energy production and support economic growth due to worry the recovery from the Great Recession is unsteady.
The Washington Post reviewed environmental opinion data and reported:
- Global warming, although cited as a priority in President Obama’s 2013 agenda, is not a public priority. Americans are uncertain as to the cause of it and skeptical it will be a critical issue in their lifetimes.
- Climate scientists have lost credibility due to recent controversies and questionable climate predictions. Data grandstanding has played into the arguments of critics.
- The public will support environmental action, but believe it involves trade-offs and gray areas. Hence, they support incentives where possible over regulations and are prepared to delay actions for jobs.