Winning hearts and minds
Hoffman: Well, what I’m saying in my work is that the spokesmen that people will respond to are those who are a part of their referent group, their cultural community, their tribe. An evangelical is going to listen to an evangelical more than he may listen to the National Academies of Sciences, so we need more evangelicals speaking on this issue. We need business people. We need politicians. We need people from groups that people trust, and then we need it at the local level. People need to hear it at the Kiwanis Club, in the golf leagues, at the town hall. It has to be not just a top-down movement, which it has been largely right now, but a bottom-up one.
That’s where I think Bill McKibben has actually been able to do something. He has created this grassroots movement. I have questions about his endgame, but he’s been able to create a constituency around this issue: young people. He’s been able to turn it into an issue of social equity: your world is going to be damaged by what we’re doing now and you’re going to have to live with it. He’s been able to mobilize. But I’d like to see people making new connections: that anglers would say, “You know what, this is going to ruin the habitat for the environment that I enjoy,” or others would say, “Holy smokes, Michigan just lost 90 percent of their cherry crop last year because of some very strange weather. Scientists are saying it’s climate change…this is bad.” If they start to connect things to their own personal interests, then you’ll get change. Then you’llget people moving on it.
Burton: This is something that has long confused me. There are an awful lot of people who are hunters and fisherman who might statistically be associated with the Republican Party, but who you’d think would naturally be extremely keen environmentalists.