Citizen Action Monitor

“Million Letter March” to U.S. Congress off to an embarrassingly slow start

No 82 Posted by fw, October 28, 2010

Our government allows and contributes to a great hoax, perpetrated on the public by the moneyed interests, aimed at confusing the public about the reality of climate change.” Dr James Hansen from his address, Equal Protection of the Laws.

On October 9th, Citizens Climate Lobby and others launched the Million Letter March — “the WRITE way to stop climate change”. The ambitious goal of the campaign is to generate a million personal letters to members of the U.S. Congress, asking them to enact effective legislation to deal with climate change. Eminent climate change activists, including Dr James Hansen, Bill McKibben, and Lester Brown have taken a leading role in this campaign.

Here’s the campaign’s video pitch —

The letters have to be personal. Writers can’t simply copy and paste talking points or sign on to a form letter. Campaign organizers believe that only personal, signed letters, placed in envelopes, and addressed to their members of Congress have any chance of influencing Capitol Hill decision makers. Moreover, they are firmly convinced that a million such letters will create the political will necessary to overcome the special interests who profit from the current stalemate in Congress. Resources and tools will be available on the website to help people write their letters.

The main message of the letters should be to ask Congress for legislation that places a gradually-increasing fee on carbon-based fuels so that clean energy becomes competitive within a decade. Revenue from that fee will be returned to all households to defray the increased cost of energy. Carbon-trading schemes and offsets will be discouraged as ineffective.

Letter-writers are asked to post a copy of their letters to the Million Letter March website so that the progress of the campaign can be tracked. Surprisingly, the campaign deadline is not posted.

Progress Check

Progress indicators are not encouraging:

  • To this date, the write-in campaign appears to be off to a very slow start. The tally on the March’s website shows letter totals for the first 15 days: U.S. 289 / International 7 / Kids 9.
  • The number of “million-letter-march” videos on You Tube is in the single digits, and the number of views of these is tiny. And the campaign has no group presence on Facebook.
What gives?

How should we interpret the low activity numbers? Is it that —

  • The campaign launch has been ineffective?
  • Corporate controlled mainstream media are ignoring the campaign?
  • Letter-writing is either too time consuming or too intellectually demanding to overcome public inertia?
  • Climate-change campaign fatigue has set in?
  • Public doubt the potential effectiveness of a letter-writing campaign to achieve its stated goal of creating political will when previous efforts have failed?
  • Public perception is that their input cannot trump BIG MONEY corporate lobbying of Congressional decision makers?
  • BIG OIL/BIG COAL disinformation campaigns have elevated the level of public doubt about the risks of climate change?
  • People are more worried about job security and the economy than about climate change?
  • The risks of climate change disaster are too remote geographically or temporally to engage public attention?
Risk of failure

Whatever the reasons for a disappointing launch, if the Million Letter March doesn’t gain some momentum soon, not only will its failure risk damaging the credibility of the organizers of this campaign, along with its leading spokespersons, it may handicap existing and future campaign efforts. Failure must never be an option for major national/international climate change crusades. COP15 taught us that hard lesson.

Personally, I’m pulling for the success of the Million Letter March.

RELATED READING

What inhibits us from acting on climate change?

Activists, be prepared to deal with psychological barriers to climate-change action

How to communicate climate-change information to the public

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2010 by in climate change, information counterpower, political action and tagged .
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