We do what we can to make a difference in the fight against climate change: drive less, change light bulbs, eat locally and other small steps. But when it comes to activism and political engagement, one look at the partisan quagmires on Capitol Hill makes it hard to imagine raising our voices actually works. Until now. A new study by researchers from Michigan State University is making a very strong connection between states with active green movements and lowered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Think Green, Be Green
Voting records of each state’s congressmen and congresswomen from 1990 to 2014 gave the study a picture of each state’s opinions on environmental issues, including climate change. By comparing the GHG emissions of each state for the same period, the study was able to make a strong statistical case for the connection between environmental movements and reduced emissions. What’s more, the study shows that states with growing populations and economies— like Vermont and New York— are actually coming out on top in the effort to combat climate change.
The authors of the study point out that solutions to large scale environmental troubles don’t just happen alongside a growing economy. Instead, a well-established environmental movement— widely adopted across households, businesses, governments and activist groups— is needed to solve for such a complex and multi-faceted problem like climate change.
It's no surprise then, that in states where climate change skepticism is the norm, including Texas and Wyoming, emissions are actually on the rise. This finding isn’t surprising— as demographic studies show, there is still widespread confusion around the causes and consequences of, and solutions to, climate change. So if activism work is working, that’s all the more reason to dig in deeper, reach out to your neighbors, and engage in the conversations that can kickstart some people to getting involved themselves.
At Ben & Jerry’s, we’re pretty excited to see this report, and get the feedback that political participation and citizen activism on climate change really is making a difference. All the more reason to keep the pressure on UN negotiators to resolve this issue in Paris this December, with a binding deal to move the whole world toward 100% renewable energy by 2050.