Faces of the climate movement

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3 Scopus citations


Activists have struggled to harness public concern about climate change into a formidable political movement, a challenge much discussed by environmentalists and scholars alike. Tar Sands Action: Phase One, a YouTube video, deviates from environmental images and politics that valorized individual recycling and green purchasing as the solution to global warming. As the climate movement, and perhaps the American environmental movement more generally, seeks inspiration for this new focus on collective action, many of them have seen other social justice struggles as their models, most notably American civil rights struggles, but also abolitionism, campaigns against South African apartheid, and crusades for LGBT rights. In Tar Sands Action: Phase One, this simultaneous focus on collective action and diversity appears most clearly in the frequent focus on the faces of the movement's activists, all of which highlight different races and ages of the participants. The video is the public face this influential facet of the American climate movement would like to project to the world. Yet as the video reveals at moments, and other social media sites created by climate activists show, this remains a diversity aspired to than one already achieved. When Tar Sands Action released the video in fall 2011, it seemed likely the pipeline would be approved as the original Keystone pipeline had been in 2009. After postponing his decision about the Keystone XL for many years, President Obama finally announced in November 2015 he would not grant TransCanada permission to build the pipeline. Then 350.org celebrated the victory, fittingly enough, by releasing yet another video, this one chronicling the history of the anti-pipeline struggle and showcasing the diverse cast of characters that united against it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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