ED Report August 2022

ED Report August 2022 960 960 California Wilderness Coalition

By Chris Morrill, Executive Director

For years, environmental activists have been pushing for action on climate change. This month, we finally saw success with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Interestingly named, the IRA is going to have significant consequence.

The bill is the first ever major piece of legislation to combat climate change. It is estimated  that the bill will increase reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to 42% below 2005 levels. That’s 15% higher than what would have happened under current policies. Many of us believe that the threat posed by climate change deserves even more action and investment than was included in the Inflation Reduction Act, but it was an important step in the right direction.

My hope is that the passage of this bill spurs us to do more and to take bolder action. By ending the perceived barrier to the passage of climate change legislation, we may actually be able to make a meaningful effort to combat climate change.

Now, having said that, the final bill is a far cry from the trillions that had been proposed months ago in the original Build Back Better bill. While it’s not the Green New Deal that many activists had hoped for, it is much better than the status quo. This may not sound like much, but it is.

A few months ago, our Policy Director, Ryan Henson, used the term “politics of the possible”. That really solidified for me the approach that CalWild takes to our work. We have ambitious dreams of protecting all of California’s remaining wild places. Ultimately, our hope is that we can fundamentally transform the way we relate to our public lands.

However, those dreams aren’t likely to be realized in any one moment. Being willing to engage in the politics of the possible requires you to have a firm understanding of what it is that you believe. What your red lines are. What are the areas you are not willing to compromise on. Then take that understanding into conversations with anyone who’s willing to engage with you on the issues you care about.

We don’t maintain purity for purity’s sake because that tends to lead to self-righteousness and pushes us away from achieving tangible victories. By engaging in conversations about the values and goals we hold, we can move in that direction step by step.

Sometimes those steps are smaller than we had hoped. And sometimes it takes a while to take any steps at all. However, over time, those little steps can do a lot of good. CalWild, as an organization, has helped protect more than 13 million acres as wilderness and over 1,500 miles of wild and scenic rivers. But those didn’t all come in one fell swoop.

As we look to the future, we want to make sure that we are making progress each and every day, each and every month, and each and every year. Being willing to engage in this endeavor over long periods of time gives us the ability to make large change and realize grand visions.

The Inflation Reduction Act demonstrates what persistence, tenacity, and small steps can do. However, it also shows us that we’re not likely to see transformational change overnight. It’s our job to maintain that vision as we take those small steps along the way.

While the politics of the possible may seem like caving, it is actually an effort to deal with the world as it exists and still move it in a better direction. Thanks to all of you for supporting us in that long endeavor. We’re excited to continue to take steps forward, both small and large, as we strive for a wilder and more resilient future for California.


Please let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions by emailing me at cmorrill@calwild.org.

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