It hasn’t happened that way, Fox explained Friday in a seminar with local environmental leaders hosted by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency and the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.
The movement she’s led as the CEO of Alliance For Climate Change — the organization founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2006 — is stalled and needs a renewed focus, she said.
“No matter how hard you are working,” she told the small local crowd, “we are paddling up-river and the current is moving fast in the direction we don’t want to go.”
Fox focused her seminar on communication, and dealing with a harsh anti-science mood of denial surrounding global warming and climate change. She also stressed the need for strong grassroots organization. Political will, she lamented, isn’t something the movement can count on.
She talked about a relatively brief but exciting moment in climate change organization, following President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, when she hired hundreds of organizers from his campaign to begin pushing for climate change legislation.
“We all thought we were going to move and get climate legislation done ... I flat-out thought we were going to do it,” she said.
Of course, they didn’t. The Waxman-Markey carbon bill died in the Senate and climate action fell below health care and the economy on the president’s priority list.
Meanwhile, denial of the science backing up climate change claims has persisted, much to the dismay of Fox.
“For people who care, this is an incredulous moment,” she said. “We are not in a great place. ... It’s a very serious moment in climate change, in democracy and in the world.”
With hopes for the movement slightly deflated, Fox explained that the Alliance is now re-focusing on getting people to accept that climate change is a reality. [but, let's not debate the cause]They’re working on branding a national advertising campaign, based largely on the widely successful “Truth” campaign about the health effects of cigarette smoking.
Her basic goal now, she explained, isn’t congressional action but a common acceptance of the facts and science about climate change. She encouraged the local enviros not to debate climate change with the general public, but to state facts about it.
“Climate change is not an issue,” she said. “It is reality. It is here, it is here now, it has been here. [that's correct - for the past 4.5 billion years] To call it an issue actually shuts it down.”
Biography of Maggie L. Fox Maggie Fox began her career as a teacher and community organizer on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations of Arizona and New Mexico and worked for the Colorado, North Carolina and Northwest Outward Bound Schools for over a decade. She earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina, a Masters in Education from the University of Colorado, and a J.D. with an emphasis in Environmental Law and Native America Natural Resources Law from Northwestern School of Law.