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Environmentalists Rethink Their Climate Strategy

Still smarting from the Senate’s failure to pass climate legislation or even a scaled-down energy bill this year, environmentalists are huddling to come up with a new messaging strategy — one they hope will inspire action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy, according to leading environmentalist Bill McKibben, is to ignore politicians and focus on their constituents. McKibben is also calling on environmentalists to abandon their emphasis on energy independence and to focus instead on the science showing the peril global warming poses.

In an interview with the National Journal today, McKibben, said environmentalists were “outgunned” by industry in their effort to pass climate legislation and predicts that “significant legislation” on climate change won’t pass for two years.

According to McKibben:

And my guess is that if we can build the movement that really highlights the danger that we’re in and the moral urgency of this situation, then maybe we can change the politics. Clearly the numbers don’t add up the way they are now politically. And that’s a good thing to know. The groups inside the Beltway that led this fight — there is a real credit not only for fighting but helping us figure out what the possibilities are and aren’t. Simply trying to repeat the same thing again, I think, would be a big mistake — using the same series of arguments that the real issues are green jobs and energy independence and that the way around it is this sort of complicated trading scheme.

I think, for the moment, not worrying constantly about what is going on in Washington may be key. We need to build this movement all over the place as fast we can and as big as we can. And if we do that, Washington will have a way, in a sense, of taking care of itself.

McKibben founded 350.org, an organization that calls for lowering global carbon dioxide levels below 350 parts per million, the number that many scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.

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