An Open Letter to My Fellow Youth Climateers


Let’s speak frankly. In the years after the failure of a climate bill to pass the US Senate and the climate treaty implosion at Copenhagen in 2009, we’ve been wandering in the wilderness figuring out what went wrong. Sure, in 2010 California’s landmark global warming law was saved from big oil’s nefariousness, but that same election put dozens and dozens of climate deniers into office.

We’ve got this pipeline issue going on; something I’ve been arrested over and slept on the ground for. I hope we win, and I will continue doing what I can to see that we do, but the pipeline is just a symptom of larger issues central to the current system (obviously).

We are now presented with a real chance to change that system: the Occupy Movement. Given how fast our civilization is hurdling toward/past climate tipping points, we have got to change the system of government to deal with the serious problems in this country. Right now profits are more important than people and the planet, grand larceny goes un-prosecuted on Wall Street, K Street lobbyists get away with legalized bribery and money-laundering, and mega-corporations plunder anything and everything they can.

In response, something is happening in the United States that has never happened before: deliberately defying unjust laws, Americans are occupying public spaces as an ongoing protest against the excesses of the 1% that own 40% of the wealth. Many of these places are important and symbolic of the power of the 1%.

Everyone I’ve spoken to at the Occupation of DC in McPherson Square ( understands the necessity of dealing with climate change – climate change being a symptom of deeper problems. Last night we approved the funds to buy solar panels for our encampment so we won’t have to use a gas generator.

But if the earnestness of protestors not wanting to use fossil fuels to power their movement doesn’t convince you, how’s this: I’ve watched young friends age very quickly in this struggle to stop climate change, usually by working within the accepted channels of political action. It hasn’t worked so well. So just as Bill McKibben said, we as folks worried about climate change need to participate in this movement. Hell, even Al Gore has unabashedly endorsed the Occupy Movement.

I’ll see you at the General Assembly!


PS – Environmentalists love camping. Think of it as camping where the 1% don’t want you to!

From Cufflinks to Handcuffs: My experiences at the White House

That’s me with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at the White House on Earth Day 2010

Here’s me getting arrested at the White House on September 2nd 2011 in protest against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Photo credit: Josh Lopez

During my college experience at American University I was pretty active in climate change issues on my campus and in my community. I went to Congress to push for ACES. I interned with environmental groups pushing for renewable portfolio standards and new passenger rail. I helped write the university’s carbon neutrality plan. Perhaps most important to this story, I voted for Obama in the Iowa caucuses and in the general election because of his pledges to take truly significant action to stop climate change. After spending years of my young life working inside the normal political system to push for these things this administration claims to believe in, I was fortunate to be invited to the White House’s Earth Day reception (along with about 100 other environmentalists).It was there that I got to meet folks I admired like Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey, Hilda Solis, and President Barack Obama.  Everyone in attendance was still holding out hope that a climate-energy bill written by John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham could be passed. Looking back now, we know it never passed, wasn’t even voted on, and probably was the most watered-down bill there possibly could have been that claimed to be mitigating climate change.

I was very lucky to get to speak to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. I really admired Steven Chu for being a great scientist who straightforwardly said what he thought about energy issues; many times I told my friends that Chu was by-far the smartest and most qualified Secretary of Energy we had ever had. That’s why I was so utterly disappointed when he told EneryNow that he thought the Keystone XL pipeline was a good idea:

“I know there’s concerns about this, but both the technologies used to extract the tar sands oil – which are improving dramatically – and so I think that can go forward. I think in the end what we need to do is diversify our supply of oil. Right now our transportation needs come exclusively from oil.”  & “In the end, it’s not perfect but it’s a trade-off.”

Kind of an obfuscated statement for a scientist to make, eh? From what I can tell, he tepidly supports the thing, or has been told to do so by others in the administration, or maybe he’s just saying what he thinks the other people in the administration want him to think. I can only hope behind the scenes he is telling Obama to stop the pipeline because it will further chain our economy to oil and only make climate change worse.

But hope hasn’t worked thus far. Hope for a climate bill? Hope for an end to mountaintop removal? Hope for an end to offshore drilling? Hope for an end to oil company subsidies? Sad to say, but none of that hope has worked out for us environmentalists lately.

So instead of hoping, I decided to go back down to the White House and physically express my disagreement with Dr. Chu and his boss.

Getting handled by US Park Police. Still better than a party in the Rose Garden. Photo credit: Josh Lopez

Organic Dairy Farmer takes on Big Ag

All around the country it seems that environmentalists are forced to play defense in this election: prop 23 in California, the many members of Congress who voted for the weak American Clean Energy & Security Act, and various Senators with good environmental records.

But there’s one race in the heart of the heartland where we can make a huge victory for sustainability: Francis Thicke’s in Iowa.

Francis Thicke is an organic dairy farmer with a PhD in soil science. He is challenging a Big Ag-backed incumbent to be the next Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Besides the US Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa’s is the most influential in the country when it comes to the operation of our food system. Electing Francis Thicke would be a huge gain in preparation for the next federal Farm Bill. So what happens in Iowa matters for the whole country. Michael Pollan and Bill McKibben agree.

Here’s the campaign ad, written and produced for free by young people working on the campaign.

And if you need another reason to get involved, polls show the race is very close.


College Graduate. Environmentalist. Mid-Westerner. Outdoorsman. Opinion-haver.

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