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Environmental Activism and the Media

The Politics of Protest

Maxine Newlands

For more than 40 years politicians, activists, advocates, and individuals have been seeking ways to solve the problem of climate change. Governments and the United Nations have taken an economic path, while others seek solutions in the equality of climate justice. Taking the step from green consumer to the streets at climate summits and protest camps, as well as taking direct action recasts activists as everything from tree huggers, to domestic extremists, to ecoterrorists. Political policing and new legislation increasingly criminalizes environmental activism, supported by media reporting that recasts environmental activism as actions to be feared.

Why this has happened and how activists have learned to circumvent the media’s recasting is the story of Environmental Activisim and the Media: The Politics of Protest. Through media movements to persuade the moveable middle, high court challenges, and gatekeeping, activists have found ways to challenge media and political discourse.

This book identifies four key areas to tie together diverse sets of green governmentality, traditional media discourse, and activism: (1) environmental governance and green governmentality; (2) historical media discourse; (3) alternative communication infrastructures; and (4) local to the global. Using data from 50 interviews, archival research, and non-participatory observation from environmental activists from the UK, USA, and Australia, this text will show why protest is important in democratic political participation.

From activists to slacktivists, Environmental Activism and the Media: The Politics of Protest is for those with an interest in cultural, social, and political studies; democratic processes; climate and social justice; governmentality; and/or the study of environmental politics, human geography, communication, and sustainability.

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Chapter 9. Conclusion: Environmental Activism and the Media


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Environmental Activism and the Media

I think it’s really easy these days to feel crushed an impotent by society and government. If you can do something that makes you feel involved, makes you feel like you’re making a contribution, I think it’s the keystone for a much healthier and happier lifestyle.

—Interview with Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior Captain, Peter Willcox (2013)

This final chapter offers a summary of the central arguments made in Environmental Activism and the Media: the Politics of Protest. Drawing together the three themes of the book, environment governance, ecoActivism and media discourse the work has looked at relations of power between all three in relation to the politics of protest. Firstly, the work focused on the greening of politics, tactics of law against ecoActivists and the use of political policing to gather data on protests leading to some being labelled domestic extremists. Chapters Five and Six looked at how by becoming a media movement as early adopters of online activism, this tactical media approach helps give a voice to a movement. Chapters Seven and Eight looked at the strength in movements from the space of protest to movement building and reclaiming the future to influence the moveable middle. In a highly politicized and mediatized world, as climate change becomes more and more prevalent within a plethora of political, cultural and economic discourses highlighting key strategies of ← 219 | 220 → success (and identifying failure)...

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