The New York Times has a surprisingly direct, no-hedging, exposé of oil industry shenanigans designed to block climate change legislation. For once, it is crystal clear to readers what is going on—the oil industry is rallying workers whose (understandable) immediate concerns do not extend beyond continuing to earn a living, to . . . preserving life on earth.
Hard on the heels of the health care protests, another citizen movement seems to have sprung up, this one to oppose Washington’s attempts to tackle climate change. But behind the scenes, an industry with much at stake — Big Oil — is pulling the strings. Hundreds of people packed a downtown theater here on Tuesday for a lunchtime rally that was as much a celebration of oil’s traditional role in the Texas way of life as it was a political protest against Washington’s energy policies, which many here fear will raise energy prices. . . . This was the first of a series of about 20 rallies planned for Southern and oil-producing states to organize resistance to proposed legislation that would set a limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases, requiring many companies to buy emission permits. Participants described the system as an energy tax that would undermine the economy of Houston, the nation’s energy capital.
What we are seeing these days is the explosive growth of efforts by narrow interests to leverage whatever they can and to appeal to those who, unlike the wealthier shareholders and CEOs, really don’t have the luxury of thinking beyond their next paycheck. It is not hard to imagine this country channeling, say, Italy, with the entire calendar coming to resemble a constant election campaign, and with the forces of reaction stoking the anxieties of whatever working-class allies they can muster.
The origins, motivations, and civic literacy of crowds is always at the core of good reporting about public events.