Chronic. One out of two young people on this planet suffers from eco-anxiety, an anxiety of the end of the world due to the consequences of ecological disturbances, combined with a deep feeling of powerlessness (“Young People’s Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: a Global Phenomenon”, Elizabeth Marks and others, September 7, 2021). However, the environmental issue is completely eclipsed from the presidential campaign, political ecology peaks at 5% of voting intentions, environmental activists from Greenpeace are declared guilty of slight degradation by the Bordeaux criminal court. [le 26 janvier] for displaying stickers and drawing with chalk on a Total gas station, when they do not risk, like two German activists in Australia a few days ago, the cancellation of their visas and deportation for having caused a traffic jam by protesting against the extension of a port which welcomes giant container ships. Even those responding to Greta Thunberg’s calls to protest are discouraged, like filmmaker and environmental activist Cyril Dion, who recently told the World that these steps “lead to nothing”.
But we should not be discouraged so quickly, as shown by a study highlighting the effectiveness of environmental mobilization (“Every Day Is Earth Day: Evidence on the Long-Term Impact of Environmental Activism”, Daniel Hungerman and Vivek Moorethy, American Economic Journal : Applied Economics, forthcoming). The authors evaluate the impact of citizen mobilization, during the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, on local pollution, infant mortality and morbidity, traditional indicators of the effects of pollution. This event was, and remains to this day, the largest environmental mobilization in the United States. Between twenty and twenty-five million Americans, or one in ten, took part in this demonstration designed by Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson. Since the 1990s, Earth Day has become a global event.
The influence of rain
This first Earth Day and the enormous mobilization it aroused were followed by important political changes, such as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency [des Etats-Unis]. But how to know if these legislative changes would not have taken place in the absence of mobilization? Similarly, a correlation between participation in Earth Day and local pollution reduction may simply be due to the fact that some motivated communities decide to both participate in this event and… to reduce their fuel consumption. .
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