Archive for the 'Posterity' Category

One Year to Earth Summit 2012: A New Generation Goes to Rio

This post was written by Michael Davidson.

12-year old Severn Suzuki Delivers Youth Plea at 1992 Rio Earth SummitOne year from this week, government leaders, civil society members and representatives of the business community will meet in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the future of the planet. The Earth Summit (also called Rio+20 after the first such global event in 1992) can help lead to a more prosperous world that utilizes natural resources more efficiently and responds to the needs of the most impacted communities of environmental degradation. But only if youth help write the story, and here’s why.

Rio 1992 was a watershed moment for the global environmental conscience. Treaties were signed, commissions created, and action plans drafted. Yet one of the most memorable speeches from the two-week conference was by a 12-year old girl (here’s what she’s doing now).

Now, a generation later, my generation is faced with two seemingly insurmountable challenges: the world is changing at a rate never before seen, and the current governance structures are insufficient to meet even the environmental problems of the 1970s.

Continue reading ‘One Year to Earth Summit 2012: A New Generation Goes to Rio’

We have the Awesome

Hey climate movement, you know what I missed about us that Power Shift pumped right back into me last week?

The awesome.

Yeah, flashmobs, pranks, swiftly organized warroom tweetups, late-night dance parties of 15,000. Remember that rebellious side of us, that “we won’t take the past for an answer” side of us? Remember that “join us because this is awesome and you’re invited” side of us?

Politics is personal identity built into popular movements. The Tea Party is powerful because it ready-makes an identity for those who feel left behind by the 21st Century. It’s a safe space in a post-9/11, post financial collapse, peak-global-hegemony America. And the Tea Party’s done well wiping up a messy identity crisis by defining what they’re afraid of.

We’re also proud to define ourselves as what we’re not: we are cooler than the fossil forces of the past. They rail on chalkboards; we rally with giant puppets in the streets. They are talking heads for septuagenarians; we are sneaking into shareholder meetings and embarrassing giant fossil fuel companies. They are snarking about crosshairs on Facebook from defensive compounds in Wasilla. We are 10,000 lithe young people fighting for our future while a crotchety old pitbull like Tom Donohue screams to get off of his front yard at the US Chamber of Commerce. We are in the West Wing interrupting the President of the United States of America to remind him that energy shouldn’t kill.

But the past is where we leave the comparison. Those fearful forces haven’t got much vision for the future, and we sure do: we are identity awesome. We are the people not afraid to build something better than the assumptions handed to us.

Other American generations have staked their identities on propositions equally grand – rebelling from tyranny, beating back fascism, defending the world from communism. Our generation is staking its identity as the people responsible enough to face climate science for what it means, and political corruption for what it is. To build a cleaner, leaner, more durable and more prosperous way of life on our full tide of vibrant energy. The people smart enough to put our moral muscle to work.

But we need to remember how to have a blast doing it. Where’s the rebelliousness, the youthful energy pulling more pranks to call out our opposition? Remember when the Yes Men and the Avaaz Action Factory staged a mock press conference on the US Chamber’s “sudden” climate action? Remember when Tim DeChristopher tied on his bandanna and marched into the fray of a corrupt shareholder process? Remember when young people lay down on the train tracks against tremendous new coal facilities? (That hasn’t happened yet, but it should.)

We mustn’t abandon tried-and-true organizing tactics, nor our hard-earned insider game. And if we do rebel our way into a better world, we do so on the shoulders of giants: after all, we’re now defending the Clean Air Act that our foremothers first passed, celebrating Earth Day last week because our forefathers founded the first four decades ago. And we need the scientific white papers still, because after all, we’re fighting for a political reality that keeps pace with the chemical reality of the atmosphere. This is a movement of the young and young at heart – if you are awesome, you are in.

Crossposted from The Wonk, Climate Progress and Climate Solutions.

6 Lessons the Climate Movement Can Learn from Dr. King’s Legacy

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind [sic] to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind [sic] must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We live in violent times. Our generation has come of age under the specter of terrorism and war, and Millennial youth continue to be the majority of the force currently fighting two wars aboard. Our charged political atmosphere and vigorous finger pointing came to a head last weekend in Tucson. There’s the ongoing destruction by the dirty energy industry, the violence that it’s wrecking on our communities…the list goes on.

Amidst all of this it seems appropriate on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to reflect on his legacy, message for peace and nonviolence and how Dr. King’s wisdom can inform the climate movement and our collective struggle for liberation today.

The challenge of the climate movement is not solely to address the environmental impacts of the climate crisis but to build a social movement strong enough to deal with its consequences. Many climate activists, myself included, hesitate to acknowledge that the question is now not whether we’ll “stop climate change” but whether we can stave off the worst of it.

One of my greatest fears is how our government will respond to the systemic collapse of our climate and economy. If our nation’s past behavior is any indication, we’ll respond with militarism, racism, and war. As sea level rise displaces millions and clean drinking water becomes an ever more scarce resource, what will our government do in the name of “national security?” Lock down the borders, occupy other nations, and seize land to squeeze the last drops of oil from the withered Earth? (I’m not one of those doom and gloom activists, I promise. Keep reading.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. I remain optimistic because I have felt the power of our movement. Now more than ever we need to draw from the bravery, wisdom and leadership of past movements and embody Dr. King’s vision.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Civil Rights Movement’s achievement was not merely passing the Civil Rights Act but reinventing the moral fabric of our country and giving hope to those living in the shadows of centuries of oppression.

Here are six lessons from Dr. King that can help guide the success of our modern movements:

1. Nonviolence and Love: In the face of unspeakable hatred Dr. King remained dedicated to the principles of nonviolence. We act because we love our fellow beings too much to see them mired in the violence of climate change. We must answer the forces of destruction with the liberation of love and compassion.

2. Spiritual and Moral Courage: Our crisis is not only ecological but deeply spiritual. The destruction of native lands, holy mountains, and sacred rivers like the Ganges is spiritual death. We are disconnected from the natural world and live in alienation from that which sustains us. Seeking to reestablish that connection we fill the void with consumption and destruction. Dr. King recognized the importance of this connection and was deeply devoted to prayer and meditation to guide his actions. We must continue to talk about climate change as a moral crisis and invite the wisdom of the world’s faith traditions.
Continue reading ’6 Lessons the Climate Movement Can Learn from Dr. King’s Legacy’

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’

Students Re-Frame Debate Over the Boardman Coal Plant

It started as just another hearing on an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality “Title V” air pollution permit for the Boardman Coal Plant, owned and operated by Portland General Electric (PGE).  Representatives of the DEQ sat down last night to take formal testimony on the proposed renewal of Boardman’s Title V permit – which regulates pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, mercury, and other toxic emissions.  Though the DEQ proposes to strengthen limits for some target pollutions, environmental groups like the Sierra Club argue it falls far short of what’s actually required.  Unbeleivably, the new Title V permit would fail to hold the biggest polluter in Oregon to standards imposed on other coal plants in around the country in 1978; essentially, it’s a green light for Boardman to continue business as usual.

And last night started out as a business as usual hearing.  Around a hundred people packed the main hearing room plus the overflow room, and DEQ reps must have noticed the abundance of “Beyond Coal” T-shirts.  But the first several people to give testimony were the usual suspects the DEQ is no doubt quite used to hearing from: industry reps from the utility that owner of Boardman, spokespeople from trade groups that represent Oregon’s biggest polluters and energy hogs, and representatives of labor organizations that unfortunately have chosen to believe PGE’s arguments.  One after another, these folks trotted out PGE’s talking points predicting skyrocketing energy prices, economic catastrophe, and general mayhem in the state of Oregon unless PGE is allowed to pollute its heart out.  But then something new happened. Continue reading ‘Students Re-Frame Debate Over the Boardman Coal Plant’

One Young World – 25 today, leading the world tomorrow

By Xixi Sun

Well, I am not yet 25 and definitely not yet leader of the world, but I am amongst the 700 international youth right here in London attending the inaugural One Young World summit. We were all born after 1984 and we represent youth from all 192 countries on this planet. Early this year I was lucky enough to be sponsored to attend. We are here to discuss the challenges faced by our generation and topics include climate change, interfaith dialogue, global business, media, global health and developing leadership for a positive future.

Here I want to tell you what Day 1 of this summit makes me think.

Having heard speeches made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof and Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday at the opening ceremony, we started our day with the welcome session by hosts David Jones and Kate Robertson. The first plenary session is on Environment and its protection. Having attended COP15 last December with the China Youth COP15 team, I am glad to see that youth today have not lost hope. They have different views on why Copenhagen has failed, but they all agreed that actions need to be taken now and we cannot wait for the decision-makers to make decisions. In the video from Senator John Kerry he mentioned the youth campaign “How old will you be in 2050?” That T-shirt is still in my Beijing home and reminds me of the campaigning events we had in the Bella Centre. As many have said, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. And this OYW summit is not just a nice trip to London. There’s work, hard work to be done. This summit will be producing a youth resolution, where each part will be voted to pass by the 700 participants. Continue reading ‘One Young World – 25 today, leading the world tomorrow’

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’

Why I got “Climate Justice” tattooed on my neck.

Tattoo art by Sara Svensson (Swedish Climate Activist) and Studio Remi, Utrecht

Three reasons:

1. The principle
2. The permanence
3. I like tattoos.

From the least important to the most important, these three reasons explained…

Reason 3 – “I like tattoos”

Continue reading ‘Why I got “Climate Justice” tattooed on my neck.’

“We blew it.” Let’s not blow it again.

In the week before Van Jones’ departure from the White House, the White House was ominously silent in its support for Jones.  Additionally, most of the major environmental organizations, who had supported Jones’ work and appointment to the White House seemed uncertain on to how to respond to attacks, so didn’t.  It was only this morning, over a day after Jones resigned that Green For All, the organization he founded and lead just prior to working for the Obama Administration, sent an announcement to their supporters with the news.  Other organizations have been slower to respond.

While I believe this was a strategic mistake on the part of the White House (allowing the right-wing media to smear members of the Administration one-by-one), the Obama Administration should not waste precious time and political capital debunking Glenn Beck’s lies.  Instead, their role in this is to instill confidence in Administration officials’ competence (which they certainly did not do).

As a result, the responsibility to tackle smear campaigns like this rests with the media (to debunk lies), other members of the Democratic Party (to provide support for the Obama Administration) and civic organizations (to articulate the vision of Van’s work).  But there was no coordinated progressive response to dismantling the smear tactics coming from the extreme right and magnified through the media. Given the vast silence on the Left is it any surprise that the attacks worked in turning public opinion against Van Jones?

Continue reading ‘“We blew it.” Let’s not blow it again.’

The End is a Beginning, is an End is a …

Sitting outside of our (soon to be evicted) community house in Omaha, Nebraska I reflect on the Omaha Summer of Solutions.

By some accounts our program could be perceived as a failure. We didn’t mobilize a million, a thousand, or even a hundred to demand clean energy investments in Nebraska and we didn’t shut down a coal plant (yet). We lost volunteers and participants every month and by July we didn’t have anything substantial to put on paper and say we accomplished. But on closer examination we achieved much more than other campaigns that I have been apart of can claim.

Continue reading ‘The End is a Beginning, is an End is a …’