The Youth Climate Movement is poised to explode off of campuses and into our nation’s capitol for PowerShift 2007, November 2nd-5th.
Thomas Friedman, the popular New York Times columnist, recently labeled teens and twenty-somethings coming to age in the early years of the 21st century the “Quiet Generation.” Accusing today’s young people of being “too quiet, too online for [their] own good, and for the country’s own good,” Friedman went on to say that today’s students and youth are “so much less radical and politically engaged than they need to be.” (See “‘Generation Q’ – the Quiet Americans,” New York Times, Oct. 10th, 2007)
Well, in two weeks, Mr. Friedman – and the rest of the nation – will hear what this young generation really sounds like, and it will be anything but quiet! More than 3,300 young people will explode off of their campuses and away from the internet, descending – in person and in droves – on the nation’s capitol for Power Shift 2007, the first-ever national youth summit on global warming, November 2nd-5th.
Power Shift will bring together thousands of students and youth from all 50 states to wrestle with our generation’s greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity: The climate crisis. At the conference, attendees will learn new skills, share ideas, connect with fellow activists and ultimately use their collective experience, enthusiasm and commitment to forge a powerful movement to end the climate crisis and make their innovative and inspiring new vision of a sustainable, just, and prosperous future a reality.
The conference will be held November 2nd-5th in College Park, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. Power Shift’s agenda includes: keynote addresses from seasoned and inspiring activists, politicians, and leaders; up-to-the-minute issue briefings from the nation’s leading scientists and policy experts; expert-led training sessions on crucial movement-building skills including organizing, advocacy, and media relations; an “opportunities fair” featuring some of the country’s leading environmental employers; a lobby day on Capitol Hill; and plenty of opportunities for young activists to network and strengthen the bonds of a nationwide youth movement (see www.PowerShift07.org).
On Saturday, November 3rd, the activities of the thousands of young people attending Power Shift will join with and be amplified by the hundreds of actions taking place in communities across the nation as part of the second nationwide Step It Up day of action (www.StepItUp07.org).
April 14th, the first Step It Up day of action, saw over 1,400 events across the country involving hundreds of thousands of community-members, activists, and yes, youth, all calling for steep cuts in carbon emissions: at least 80% by 2050. The weekend of Power Shift, Step It Up activists will be at it again, and this time they’ll be asking who our nation’s real leaders are as they challenge politicians again to Step It Up!
The attendees at Power Shift will join with the Step It Up organizers on Saturday night for the joint keynote events of both Power Shift and Step It Up. Many thousands more young people who aren’t going to make the trip to Power Shift will be back home organizing, recruiting for, and attending Step it Up events in their communities. Wherever there’s a successful Step It Up event, you can bet that there’s the fire, passion, and innovative ideas of a member of “Generation Anything-But-Quiet” somewhere behind it.
And as if there won’t be enough packed into a weekend of organizing, training and action, on Monday, November 5th, more than a thousand youth and students will converge on Capitol Hill to flex their collective political muscle and do exactly what Mr. Friedman seems to think today’s young people are too timid to do – something most citizens are too timid to do – sit face-to-face with their representatives and senators, and speak the truth to power, demanding committed action to end the climate crisis.
Monday’s giant lobby day will begin with a morning rally on Capitol Hill’s West Lawn featuring members of the House and Senate leadership and leaders in the youth climate movement as speakers before teams of young citizens head for scheduled lobbying meetings with House and Senate members from all 50 states. The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has also scheduled a hearing Monday afternoon where young people directly affected by climate change will speak out on the issue. Youth witnesses representing the Arctic north, Appalachia, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and other locations will testify on the urgency of the crisis and the importance of bold action.
Throughout the Power Shift conference, at lobby day, and at Step It Up events across the nation, young people will join with concerned citizens of all ages to demand Congress takes immediate action to implement the “1Sky” Climate Initiative (www.1skycampaign.org/) including:
- creating 5 million new “green” jobs in the clean energy sector working to help save 20% of our energy by 2015;
- immediately freezing climate pollution levels and cutting them at least 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050;
- and transforming our energy priorities from dirty, depleting, and often-imported fossil fuels to clean, renewable, and local energy sources, beginning with a moratorium on all new coal plants until they can safely dispose of their pollution.
Lobby day attendees will also demand that Congress pass a strong energy bill this fall as a down payment on the serious cuts in carbon emissions we urgently need. A bill that includes the best elements of the energy packages passed earlier this year by the House and Senate (including strong fuel economy standards, a national renewable electricity standard, and the reinvestment of federal subsidies from fossil fuels into renewable energy and energy efficiency) will be a critical first step towards the sustainable, just, and prosperous future today’s young climate activists are committed to making a reality.
After the Power Shift conference and lobby day, students and youth will return to their campuses and communities. They’ll probably be temporarily exhausted from all the action, but at the same time, they’ll be energized, empowered, and equipped to strengthen their nationwide movement and push for bold solutions on their campuses, in their communities, and in their state and national capitols.
How’s that for quiet, Mr. Freidman?
Power Shift is organized by the Energy Action Coalition (www.energyaction.org), an alliance of more than 40 organizations from across the United States and Canada, founded and led by youth to help support and strengthen the student and youth clean energy movement in North America.
Energy Action Coalition groups have successfully launched campaigns on over 600 college and high school campuses through the Campus Climate Challenge and successfully won commitments from 400 college and university presidents to work towards complete climate neutrality at their institutions.
The blog “It’s Getting Hot in Here” (www.ItsGettingHotInHere.org) is the Energy Action Coalition’s outlet for the voices of the growing youth movement on climate change, is regularly visited by tens of thousands of readers from across the globe.
For more information on the Energy Action Coalition and its partners in Power Shift 2007:
For information on Step it Up and the 1Sky Campaign: