Five Stages of Political Causes

Stephen Hayward in the the WSJ argues that Climate Change is dead as a political cause. He uses Anthony Downs “Issue-Attention” cycle to map its decline. Every cause goes through the following process:

  1. Experts and activists sound the alarm about a problem needing public attention.
  2. Media and politicians discover the issue, bringing about a period of enthusiasm, with activists conceiving it in terms of global salvation.
  3. The hinge: the public realizes just how how much solving the problem will cost.
  4. Decline in public interest
  5. A long “twilight of lesser attention or spasmodic recurrences of interest”

Hayward places us in stage three but I think we passed that point years ago, more likely we are somewhere in four or five.

Though I think Eric Hoffer’s cycle is a little more descriptive: every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.


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