The Environmental Movement and environmentalist politics have been a constant in American history since the early 19th century. Over the years, the interest of the public has grown and declined but 2007 showed a particularly high amount of environmentalist activity. On the coattails of Al Gore’s famously unsettling book/documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” which was released in 2006, environmental activist, author, and journalist Bill McKibben began to organize a nationwide environmental campaign named Step It Up 2007. The aim of the campaign was to demand legislative action by U.S. Congress on global warming and other severe environmental issues. McKibben started the campaign in January 2007 with a group of college students and it was “conceived as a community-based, community-driven movement” that resonated strongly with the American youth. On April 14, 2007, which was pronounced as the National Day of Climate Action, Step It Up organized huge rallies in hundreds of American cities to demand that Congress enact curbs of carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 – a tall order. However, the campaign’s efforts have earned the attention of numerous politicians including President Barack Obama and McKibben remains an active member in numerous environmental campaigns.
It would be narrow to deny that this surge in environmental action and discussion has any relationship to Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. The novel features many environmentalist elements with God’s Gardeners being a prime example. The characters in this group (cult/religion?) are very obviously environmentalist and are in the process of organizing and sustaining a society that will exist using only the greenest and most environmentally friendly methods of survival. Additionally, God’s Gardeners maintain that a great disaster awaits mankind as a result of its continued abuse and exploitation of the earth’s creatures and natural resources. This great disaster, referred to as “the Waterless Flood”, could be Atwood’s interpretation of the harmful and corrosive repercussions of global warming. Whether or not Atwood intended to make any reference to actual conservational issues in The Year of the Flood, her novel was no doubt well received in the years after McKibben’s campaign as environmental concern and awareness continued to grow and impact social and civic politics across the nation.