President & Young People Define Our Decade In Different Ways

Defining Our Future

Last week, President Obama met with a bipartisan group of 14 Senators and four cabinet officials to talk about climate legislation. To those of us involved in multi-issue progressive organizing, this meeting brought back daunting memories of the fabled  ‘bipartisan interest’ that stalled healthcare reform for many months.

At the same time as this high-level meeting was going on, young people across the nation were logging on to to share their vision for how our country’s energy use needs to change in the upcoming decade.

Both President Obama and the youth climate movement are on the same path: both are interested in moving our country away from our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, in cleaning up our air, in strengthening our national security, creating jobs, and, reducing the terrifying effects of the climate crisis. Both can’t do it alone: the youth clean energy movement needs the insight, creativity and energy of its growing base, and President Obama needs 60 Senators to endorse his plan.

The similarities between the two groups  end there. 

The President’s Plan

The group of 14 Senators that met with the president expressed support for climate action in varying degrees. While Senators Boxer, Kerry, and Graham have been consistently outspoken about the need for climate legislation, other in attendance clearly showed up to channel the interests of their fossil fuel buddies. Senator Murkowski from Alaska, a notorious friend of oil lobbyists, released a statement a couple of weeks ago saying that any climate legislation without permits to drilling in the National Wildlife Arctic Refuge, one of the few pristine areas left in the United States, would be unacceptable for her (CLARIFICATION: Democratic Senators expressly said that there is no way that drilling in NWAR will be part of the bill). Similarly, mountaintop removal coal mining afficionado Senator Rockefeller from West Virginia released a statement following the summit bragging about how strongly he pushed for dirty, toxic, and increasingly expensive coal to be central in the bill.

These two Senators are just two glaring examples of the blatant corruption that is going to be shaping our country’s strategy to reducing emissions and strengthening our economy, but it doesn’t end with them. Unfortunately, many (not all!) of the other attendees also have strong ties to one or another entrenched fossil fuel or nuclear interest. Corporate lobbyists are spending lavishly to shape this legislation to their liking, but this is not just a problem for the prospects of ending the climate crisis. (** Side Note: Healthcare reform, college affordability, and other progressive priorities are also being gutted against the public interest by greedy corporations like never before.  It is clear that progressives must unite to end the legalized corruption of campaign financing as soon as possible ***)

Young people aren’t buying it.

The Millennial Plan

The millennial generation is taking matters into their own hands this year. Last week over 1,400 young people across the nation voted in the Define Our Decade referendum in support of the ambitious goal of getting 100% clean, renewable energy by next decade. This goal is not only achievable, but absolutely necessary if we wish to have any chance of tackling all the other progressive priorities. Without climate action, our healthcare system will become overstretched with pollution-related illesses. Wars for oil will not only continue, but intensify. Immigration reform will need to take into account millions of climate refugees. The world can’t wait for the President to buy corrupt votes, we need to start building our clean energy economy now!

That is why thousands of young people will participate in the one of the 10 projects of the Summer of Climate Action to get our hands dirty in communities across the nation that need an extra help to weatherize homes, put up solar panels, or to block a disastrous tar sands refinery.

In addition to being politically active and pushing their Senators to eschew their polluter friends, young people are taking climate actions in their own hands, are you?

3 Responses to “President & Young People Define Our Decade In Different Ways”

  1. 1 Flora Bernard Mar 23rd, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for this inspiring article. This summer will be nothing short of epic.

    We certainly have a great many challenges and incredible obstacles to overcome, but I have absolute faith that my generation is ready and willing to surpass these, and move our fine nation forward.

    It’s time to create our own hope, by making our own change.

  2. 2 Tommaso Boggia Mar 23rd, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I totally agree! We have the ambition and energy to make this happen, we just need to translate it into political momentum. Calling our Senators is a must, but it shouldn’t take away from actually doing much of the work ourselves!

  3. 3 LaDele Lad Apr 3rd, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Our prior president was pushed out of term unable to mend the United States economy. President Obama’s first concern is the humanity in our country. God Bless

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About Tommaso

Tommaso Boggia moved to Oakland in 2010 to pursue a Master in Public Administration from the Presidio Graduate School. He previously lived in Washington D.C. where he worked at the Center for American Progress as a Climate Advocacy Associate and participated in the creation of The Bike House Co-op, a non-profit organization whose mission is to be a place where all people can learn about, work on, and enjoy bikes. Tommaso received his MPA degree in June 2012 and is currently exploring opportunities for employment in local government. His final thesis was an Implementation Plan for the creation of a Business Improvement District in Jack London. Tommaso spends his weekends sailing in the estuary, cooking with friends, and fixing up his old, but cherished sailboat residence.

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