The Corner

Climate Movement: Spreading or Deflating?

How is the climate movement doing in the wake of the recently released IPCC report? Certainly the shutdown and the Obamacare fiasco have kept climate issues off the front pages. The report itself may even have been a downer for the movement. Story after IPCC story in the mainstream press touched on the long global-warming hiatus and the scientific uncertainty surrounding it. That can’t have been helpful for a movement that thrives on the conviction that its opponents have no legitimate case to make.

Bill McKibben is in Europe spreading his fossil-fuel divestment campaign. But how is that campaign going here in America where it began? Earlier this month, Harvard rejected the call to divest with a devastating statement decrying efforts to politicize universities, while pointing to the hypocrisy of attacking companies whose products students use every day. Two days ago, Brown University also formally rejected divestment.

We’re two months into the school year and nothing much in the way of divestment activism has been happening. Instead of railing against recalcitrant administrations, the movement seems deflated. McKibben disarmingly admits that divestment as a tactic won’t directly harm energy companies. His real goal is to use divestment as a rallying cry for a movement to force a punitive carbon tax through Congress. But how do you get people excited about a tactic that you admit won’t achieve its immediate goal?

National Association of Scholars president Peter Wood recently attended a divestment rally at the New School in New York City. The event was lackluster and sparsely attended, he reports. Wood tells me that when pressed on a plan to circulate a pro-divestment student petition, leaders seemed reluctant for fear of an unimpressive outcome. That’s shocking, given the lopsided majorities by which divestment resolutions passed in student elections last year. Student leaders at the New School seemed to think the divestment movement was planning to go all out on campuses this spring. It seems odd to allow the momentum of last spring’s divestment activism to dissipate for a full year.

It’s too early to count the climate movement out as a force on America’s campuses. At the moment, however, the campus fossil-fuel divestment campaign seems stalled. Is that a leading indicator for the failing health of the broader climate movement?

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More