I came across a quote from Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning Chicago School economist, that seems well suited to the practice of trying to combat climate change:
Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.
It certainly seems to apply well to all those who kept researching and debating climate policies in the U.S. through the long darkness of the Bush years. Now, some of the most compelling of those ideas are being voiced as serious possibilities.
The lesson for those hoping to change things, perhaps, is not to despair during times when necessary actions seem politically impossible, but rather to use those times for further preparation, as well as to try to provoke the kind of political crises that permit real change to occur.