08/28/2012 02:25 pm ET Updated Oct 28, 2012

Before the Elephant Forgot...

My latest column in Sierra magazine, "Common Ground: America's Most Endangered Habitat," talks about the frustrating lack of bipartisan cooperation on finding solutions to big problems like climate change. I quoted one prominent Republican who told me: "Mike, we may not agree on much, but on climate change, there's not really that much separating us. But there's no way I can say that publicly."

Could that finally be starting to change?

Not, I'm afraid, at the highest levels of the party. When the Republicans adopt their 2012 platform in Tampa, you're more likely to find that it includes billions in subsidies for finger painting than bold solutions to the climate crisis.

But not everyone in the GOP rank and file is marching in lockstep. Consider this week's "man-bites-dog" story from the National Journal, "Conservative Group Plans to Push Republicans Toward Action on Climate, Cleaner Energy":

Leading members of the Christian Coalition and the Young Republicans on Monday will launch nationwide the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, a grassroots group aimed at engaging Republicans on the goals of cutting oil use, backing alternative energy and clean-air regulations, and
fighting climate change.

Increasingly, the GOP has also found itself out-of-step with some of its own party members and leaders over commonsense solutions like wind power in Ohio and renewable energy standards in Michigan.

In the short-term, voices of reason will have a tough time being heard over the oil- and coal-powered bullhorns wielded by the Koch brothers and other wealthy fossil fuel campaign donors. But don't forget -- it was less than five years ago that John McCain campaigned for president on the promise to do something about climate change.

Someday, the elephant may yet remember.

The Sierra Club Voter Education Fund seeks to educate voters about issues important to our members by responding to statements and positions made in an electoral context, with the goal to encourage the public to find out more about the candidates and their positions on these issues.