Outside, In.

I recently caught up with a once-and-forever youth climate leader who has since moved on to fill his days with other ways of building global community.  I asked what we needed to do to bring him back to the fold. He, in turn, confessed he wished he could borrow one of our own to further his new pursuits.  I gave him my blessing– but only if in four years, both of them would come back to us by running for elected office.
He laughed. I wasn’t joking.
Continue reading ‘Outside, In.’

Two Naughty Words

Scrotum, Vagina, Electric Car, and other naughty words” is one of the most-read itsgettinghotinhere posts of all time, probably because it was–and is–honest and on point and yes, provocative, though in the service of an important message (and presumably also because it turns up in Google searches by people who are more than a little surprised and intrigued to see “electric car” and “itsgettinghotinhere” in their results list amidst the other, arguably naughtier, words they were searching for in the first place…).  In that 2007 post, Josh asked: “So what are our naughty words in the climate movement? Electric car? Conservation? Kyoto? Sacrifice?” Fast forward almost four years: Solutions buzzwords are everywhere. Green jobs! Clean energy!  But these terms get so much play in part because we often use them in place of two other words we really want to talk about, but are afraid to say: climate change.  And the US climate movement is losing ground because of it.

Continue reading ‘Two Naughty Words’

Playing to Win

Recently I was talking with a friend who does really inspiring social change work with athlete volunteers.  He remarked that one of the great things about working with athletes is their innate competitiveness:  athletes plan and play to win– whether it’s on the playing field or towards their goals for social change. Which got me thinking about the climate community… Are we playing to win? Do we expect to win? What, and when? And are we planning backwards from those goals?  And who are “we,” anyway?  Comments, please!

Snapshots from before the spill

A few years ago I had what I thought was a brief minor life tangent– a stint organizing against industrial offshore fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico. It was, I reasoned, a breather from youth climate organizing that would take me somewhat closer to my former life in marine biology.  I didn’t expect then that those experiences would ever come anywhere near the pages of itsgettinghotinhere.  But here we are.

Continue reading ‘Snapshots from before the spill’

The choice that won’t change the world, and the one that might

The short version of the story goes something like this: over the weekend, Senator Graham said he’d be removing his name from the draft US climate legislation, originally slated to be released this week, he was supposed to co-sponsor with Senator Lieberman and Senator Kerry. On its surface, his withdrawal stemmed from concerns that Democratic leadership wanted the Senate to move ahead on immigration before taking on the climate issue.  I won’t go into the situation in detail, in part because you can read about it elsewhere, and in part because the story’s changing minute-to-minute– surely even since I started this blog post.  In today’s press alone the mess has been blamed on any number of factors, from partisan bullying to media-fueled misunderstandings to the political calculations of re-election seeking Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In any case, the whole debacle was regarded as very bad news indeed for an already shaky Senate climate bill.  So upon hearing Saturday’s news, climate organizations and advocates here inside the Beltway did what most DC pros would do faced with the latest legislative melodrama: they scrapped their weekend plans (or pulled out the red pens to update their Earth Day Climate Rally speeches) and hopped back on the phones to their political strategists and Senate champions, whipped out their dial-ins and their drawing boards, tried to figure out how to break the news gently to their members, Facebooked and Tweeted their discontent, probably did a considerable amount of drowning their sorrows, and hunkered down to contemplate the maybes:

Maybe Graham’s name will go back on the bill. Maybe climate will come to the Senate floor before immigration, after all.  Maybe it was all just one big misunderstanding.  Maybe…

Maybe it’s irrelevant.

Continue reading ‘The choice that won’t change the world, and the one that might’

If you want to know, just ask…

Good news for the climate in 2009 came in the form of a host of local victories and unprecedented civil society coordination at the international climate negotiations, both of which demonstrated that across the U.S. and the world, the call for real climate action is alive and growing.  But in other obvious and important ways–stalled US climate legislation, an anti-climactic Copenhagen climate summit, a resurgence of climate skepticism in the media– it was not the 2009 many of us had hoped for.  So- What now?  What next?  A national summit or series of regional climate summits in the US could help answer those all-important questions by pulling together the collective wisdom of those in-the-know: on-the-ground citizen climate leaders.
Continue reading ‘If you want to know, just ask…’

Climate Generation: It’s Getting Old In Here

In a few weeks, I will celebrate seven years to the day since becoming involved in the youth climate movement.  A few weeks after that, I will officially be an old lady at the ripe old age of 27.  Back in my day, we walked uphill both ways in the snow to youth climate conferences, which we ran on zero dollars and planned while subsisting on only one flavor of (stale) Clif Bar for days on end. I jest a little, but the point is this:  It’s getting old in here.
Continue reading ‘Climate Generation: It’s Getting Old In Here’

Happy New Year, Welcome Back: Seven Proposed Next Steps for the U.S. Climate Movement

This post is meant to kick off an actionable dialogue about where the U.S. climate movement is headed in the new year.  Please use the comment form to suggest additions, flesh out points, propose alternate ideas, etc!  Just remember that this blog is a public space, and the goal is positive action to move us forward.  Also– while this is a post about the US, this remains an international blog chronicling a global movement.  Many  of these steps apply to, or would benefit from the perspectives of, allies outside the US as well.  In random order, steps are as follows:

1) Learn to lineback

2) Make leadership feel good

3) Build personal accountability in leaders and decision makers

4) Assume a diversity of positions of power

5) Run for office

6) Move from the youth movement to our late 20s, 30s, and beyond

7) Become global citizens

More on what these look like in practice after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Happy New Year, Welcome Back: Seven Proposed Next Steps for the U.S. Climate Movement’

Getting Past “Blame China”

I probably don’t even need to provide a link to “How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room,”  Mark Lynas’s recent Guardian article that has found itself at the center of so many a post-Copenhagen conversation.  Chances are you’ve read it.  Just in case: Of China’s role in this month’s round of UN climate talks, Lynas says, “China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again.”

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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama


December 16, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

Four years ago at the UN climate negotiations in Montreal, I was part of a delegation of hundreds of youth observers from across the country and thousands from across the globe. In a meeting we held with the lead U.S. negotiator at the time, I told him we knew he had been sent to the negotiations by an administration that would not lead the world to a strong, just global climate treaty. I promised him that we would go home and work harder than we had ever worked to elect the administration that would. This week, four years and one presidential election later, I am asking you to prove in Copenhagen that we have made good on that promise.

My own trip to these UN climate negotiations is not my first trip to Copenhagen; I studied abroad here as an undergraduate. During that year, I made another trans-Atlantic trip to a climate conference, taking off from Copenhagen and landing on the East Coast to co-coordinate the 2nd Annual Northeast Climate Conference at Harvard University and to surprise my friends and allies with my participation. I knew then that combating climate change would be about unwavering commitment and dramatic leaps of faith. I wanted to show that I believed in the growing climate movement so much that I was willing to drop everything and pay to cross oceans and work without stop or sleep for days to support it. I wanted to make the point that that is the very least we have to be willing to do for big ideas and for each other. The 2nd Annual Northeast Climate Conference brought together over five hundred youth climate leaders from across the Northeast—an unprecedented number at that time. Only five years later, Powershift 2009 united over twelve thousand youth climate leaders to flood the halls of Congress to call for bold, comprehensive climate legislation this year and for the US to lead the world to a clean and equitable energy future. Continue reading ‘An Open Letter to President Barack Obama’


A proud supporter of the US youth climate movement since 2003, Meg was a co-founder of the Climate Campaign, the Energy Action Coalition, and the Campus Climate Challenge. Supporting a new generation of passionate, thoughtful leaders is her climate strategy.

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