Over the past few years, environmental studies has been pushed to the sidelines of political discourse as environmental challenges have been overshadowed in world affairs by issues of terrorism, national security and global economic stability. However, a new Democratic Congress in the US and anticipation of a new US president, intensifying global concern about climate change and forward-looking environmental initiatives at the municipal and regional levels the world-over suggest that we may be entering a new era of environmental concern. How should environmental scholars position themselves in the emerging political landscape? This essay argues that, while critical environmental scholarship often occupies the margins of disciplinary space, it is more relevant now than ever before. The essay explains why and how critical environmental studies can adopt the mantle of genuinely effective scholarly engagement.