Last Thursday me and a couple other ESS students were huddling and working on our senior projects when we heard the news from our Professor: someone had heckled at a climate Cafe. In our minds this news had a bit more of significance because we were holding a climate cafe ourselves the night of March 14th. As an approach to talking about environmental issues, a climate Cafe can be utilized as simple as a round table discussion or it could be a multifaceted event with multiple speakers. In the case of the disturbed event, it was the latter and included many members of the environmental community and the commonwealth.
It was held in the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts and was attended by hundreds hoping to listen to Anthony Janeto, a professor from Boston University, talk about his research on climate change. Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent candidate, like any other citizen was allowed to participate but soon became very disrespectful to both the audience and Dr. Janeto. He started to call the professor a “liar” and making unfounded claims about how climate change is hoax. This uncivil discussion escalated more and more which led to the police being called and the event was shutdown.
Shiva Ayyadurai is a product of the zeitgeist of Trump Era politics, In a similar manner to Trump he uses subversive language to attack his opponents. In addition Shiva has made questionable claims about his qualifications claiming to be the “inventor of email”. For those who are unfamiliar his most recent efforts was an independent bid for senate. Where he used similar tactics of “organic” publicity stunts and attacking the media to gain attention. He represents the new opposition to the environmental community and its ideals
I talk about this particular event because it encapsulates the polarization of environmental politics today. Which wasn’t mentioned a lot in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal,Vegetable,Miracle and or a lot of the other recent readings we as a class have read. The exception to the rule was the Food Chains where they talk about the nature of the opposition. The movie talks about corporate interests like Publix not coming to table to discuss both the importance of sustainable practices and workers rights.
A segment of our citizenry have their own skepticism when it comes to environmental policy-making and this is backed-up by data from the Pew Research center. According to the data seen below subscribing to a particular ideology has an effect on your perception of the effectiveness of environmental policies. Comparing these contrasting ideologies the data reflects that conservatives have little faith in these climate policies and that liberals more often than not support these policies. A healthy sense of skepticism is important for a democracy to flourish. It when the skepticism becomes toxic that is when we have a real problem on our hands. I hope in the near future that we are able to convince a lot of the climate skeptics that we are willing to include them in the conversation. But it’s more important for us as a citizenry to use that skepticism and constructive criticism to make these climate policies more effective. In the hopes that this sort of situation doesn’t happen again.