A Remarkable 24 Hours for the Environmental Movement

For some watching the environmental movement, places like Grist and Treehugger and the late lamented Worldchanging seemed like outliers--many thought that the membership of the big green groups was aging, that the bulk of the rolls were people who came of age during the first wave of environmentalism back in the 1970s.

So, many of us weren't sure what to hope for yesterday when we launched an attempt to collect half a million email messages to the Senate opposing the Keystone Pipeline in 24 hours. It could have been a colossal failure, confirming the notion spread by some that the green movement had become a paper tiger. Instead--well, we cruised past the 500,000 mark after less than seven hours. The electronic tiger was roaring--every single one of the big green groups cooperated, and it turned into a splendid party before the night was out. (We'll tally the final count here as soon as we have it). 

And the message that tiger roared was, by recent standards of the environmental movement, clear and uncompromising. We'd heard from some Democrats in the Senate that they didn't think Keystone was an 'environmental issue,' that it was 'just one more pipeline,' and so on. They'd really like to cave to big oil on this one, instead of backing up the president who showed some bravery in denying the permit.

What we've demonstrated in the last 24 hours is that we get to decide what matters to us. Any Senator watching needs to understand that this is the issue that green voters understand, that it's the test for this year. It's the one issue where people have come out in large numbers to put their bodies on the line, and online too: the largest civil disobedience action on any issue in 30 years, and now the most concentrated burst of environmental advocacy perhaps since the battles over flooding the Grand Canyon back in the glory days. 

A huge coalition of groups will be delivering dozens of jump drives loaded with email messages to the Senate this afternoon--it's the right symbol for a movement that's conclusively proved just how wired it really is.  

AlterNet / By Bill McKibben

Posted at February 14, 2012, 9:17am