Yes, it has backfired.
In a surprisingly honest appraisal of the current state of the environmental movement, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute declared in a speech at Yale University titled, The Long Death of the Environmnental Movement, that:
…today, environmental efforts to address climate change and build a green economy lie in ruins.
Shellenberger and Nordhaus offer Twelve Theses for a Post-Environmental Movement (heh, a 12-step program) to reboot the environmental movement, of which “we need to stop trying to scare the pants off of the American public” (as noted in the headline above) comes in at #2.
S&N even admit that their side has massively outspent “fossil fuel interests” in their failed effort:
In the wake of the crash [of the environmental movement], environmentalists pointed their finger at the usual bogeymen. They claimed that the problem has been that fossil fuel interests have massively outspent underdog environmental groups, funding skeptics to mislead the public and duping the media into giving too much credence to skeptical views about climate change.
In reality, the environmental lobby massively outspent its opponents. In just the last two years, by our rough estimate environmental organizations and philanthropies spent somewhere north of $1 billion dollars advocating for climate action. In contrast, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Exxon-Mobil, the Koch Brothers, Big Coal, and the various other well publicized opponents of environmental action might have spent, when all was said and done, a small fraction of that.
Indeed, much of the U.S. energy industry, including the largest utilities, helped write and lobbied for U.S. climate legislation.
And then there’s this precious nugget:
The truth is that the disparate crew of academics and bloggers who make up the skeptic community have toiled in relative obscurity and have been largely ignored by the mainstream media. That skeptics have nonetheless succeeded in raising substantial doubt among many Americans about the reality of global warming suggests, at the very least, that the environmental community has profoundly misframed the issue.
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