Extreme weather has become the new normal. Despite another year of unprecedented drought in Midwestern states, historic wildfires and devastating storms such as Hurricane Sandy, there hasn’t been a groundswell of support for climate-change policy from Middle Americans. The problem is not that Middle America is indifferent to the well-being of the planet or more frequent natural disasters; the problem is that most climate and environmental advocates are indifferent to the needs of Middle America.
Many environmentalists argue that the best way to address climate change is for Americans to change their lifestyles and make sacrifices for the good of the planet. Americans are told they must consume less, waste less and spend more to buy clean energy. While David Brooks’s “Bourgeois Bohemians” may be able to retrofit their homes with solar panels and drive Chevy Volts, most of us can’t.
The recession has Americans prioritizing the economy over the environment. Gallup noted in March that since 2009 Americans have favored economic growth over environmental protection, after nearly 30 years of public opinion showing the opposite.