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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


January-February 2012

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What Civic Organizations Can Do to Engage Citizens in Environmental Action

Whether or not citizens become mobilized around climate action has the potential to determine whether policymakers take significant steps towards carbon reduction. After the failure of climate change legislation in the Senate in 2010, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman considered the role that Republicans, Democrats, President Obama, and business lobbies played in killing the bill. Ultimately, he concluded, “The truth is, the public, confused and stressed by the last two years, never got mobilized to press for this legislation. We will regret it.”1 Academic and activist Bill McKibben echoes this sentiment: “If we want a world that works, we're going to have to raise our voices.”2 Given the ongoing need for widespread political action, citizens' voices could become a potent force in determining the future of climate change policy.

Hahrie Han, M.A., Ph.D., is the Sidney R. Knafel Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy at Harvard University, 2009–2011. 

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