Archive for the 'Climate Generation' Category

Thoughts following Midwest Powershift

Cross-posted from by Ruby Levine

I spent the weekend at Midwest Powershift in Cleveland. Among the rallies, trainings, and speeches, I was able to catch some downtime with fellow Summer of Solutions program leaders and participants from around the Midwest. Especially valuable was a conversation I had with members of other Midwestern programs on Saturday night.

500 young people applaud Joshua Kahn Russell's keynote poem at Midwest Powershift in Cleveland. Photo credit Ben Hejkal.

This conversation helped me articulate two things: one, the “good environmentalists vs. the evil polluters” framing I saw a lot of other places during the conference makes me deeply uncomfortable, and two, if the green economy is going to work it needs to be the whole economy, not a side industry.

Continue reading ‘Thoughts following Midwest Powershift’

The View from Four Years Out

Cross-posted from, where you can find more stories of young people building the green economy.

When I helped close the 2011 Twin Cities Summer of Solutions three weeks ago, I knew something amazing was happening, but in the flurry of it all I wasn’t really able to identify it. I started to get a sense of it when I first sat down at the Grand Aspirations August Gathering two weeks ago, when forty people from all over the country streamed in with wondrous stories of their work creating the green economy. By the end of the Gathering, last week, the full depth of the change was starting to dawn on me and was brought to the front of my attention when Ethan Buckner, a friend and Oakland Summer of Solutions Program Leader, said smiling at the end of a big group hug, ‘you know, we’ve created something really remarkable in the past few years’. Now, after a week of catching up and taking the next steps forward back in Minnesota, I’m finally seeing the view from four years out.

Four years ago was about 6 months after the events that got Cooperative Energy Futures and the Alliance to Reindustrialize for a Sustainable Economy off the ground – the seeds of my green economy work in the Twin Cities. It was about 6 months before the vision for the Summer of Solutions and Grand Aspirations emerged. Four years ago, there had been no national gatherings of thousands of youth activists, candidate Barack Obama was barely a competitor, and the economy had not yet tanked. The dream of a green economy was barely starting to be voiced, and the idea that we could sustain ourselves, our communities, and the future of our world by creating new ways to feed, house, power, and transport our society was an exciting but utopian ideal.

So what has changed?
Continue reading ‘The View from Four Years Out’

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.

The Spring edition of Rising Tide’s newsletter, Burning Issues, is out!

Burning Issues - Spring 2011

The Spring Edition of RTNA’s newsletter, Burning Issues, is out!  Click the image above, or HERE to download.  This season’s pieces include:

  • direct action halting of heavy-haulers carrying tar-sands equipment shipments through Montana
  • updates on Tim DeCristopher, his trial, and the next phase of resistance
  • the resistance’s Nuclear Reaction- false dichotomies of energy, false solutions of nuclear, and where to go from there
  • Kentuckians occupying their governor’s offices to demand the abolition of MTR4-20 Day of Action Against Extraction!
  • shutdowns of the National Coal Council’s meeting in St. Louis
  • Canadian resistance to the tar sands, including a takeover of trade ministerial office
  • Olympia RT’s kickass campaign to stop a biomass power at Evergreen State College
  • the March on Blair Mountain, and reports from the Coalfields
  • a one-year lookback at the Gulf, from disaster to resumption of drilling
  • and much more– take a look!

Raising our voice for a Just and Stable Future

This Tuesday, student activists from New England had an exciting opportunity to present our Declaration for Clean Energy to leadership and press at the UN Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico.

Students for a Just and Stable Future in front of the Massachusetts state house. The New England Coalition unites justice and sustainability issues and pressure the state government to act.

The Declaration for Clean Energy is a five page document written by 170 members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), a New England based network of students who have united to fight climate change and work towards a just and stable future for all of humanity.  At the press conference in Cancun, student delegates presented our declaration with a statement demanding legitimate action from policymakers on all levels of United States government to pass meaningful comprehensive legislation on climate, and insisting that global leaders agree to a legally binding treaty that will return our global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to a safe level of less than 350 parts per million.

As the international negotiations begin to wrap up, it is clear that they will not produce any real results.  Powerful nations are refusing to hold themselves accountable, the seriousness of the science is still being ignored, and the voices of youth and disadvantaged communities are being shut out completely.  Ethan Buckner, a student delegate from the Sierra Student Coalition who presented on our behalf, had his badge taken away and was removed from the negotiations shortly after our press conference simply for participating in a march alongside youth from the global south, indigenous people, and environmental justice communities who are already suffering from the effects from climate change.  Simply put, International leaders are ignoring the voice of the people, and they think they can get away with it. Continue reading ‘Raising our voice for a Just and Stable Future’

Government Failing, Communities Succeeding

It has officially been over three months since the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill started in the Gulf of Mexico.  In that time President Barack Obama has appointed an oil spill team, met with BP executives, gone to Louisiana, and addressed the nation.  He’s even appointed an Oil Spill Team to handle the crisis.  Granted, none of this has stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf, but it at least gives the impression that Obama is committed to solving this climate crisis and preventing similar events from happening in the future.  That we have a leader committed to environmental justice and corporate accountability for BP.  How I wish that this were the case.

In his address to the nation President Obama stated that he had frozen all off shore oil drilling permits for at least six months in order for new and better regulations to be created and implemented.  It was music to my ears.  Finally someone was realizing that regulation of business is sometimes necessary to protect both people and the planet.  However, recently it has been revealed that the Obama administration has approved plans by both BP and Shell Oil to drill a total of 11 exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas above Alaska.  Wait, WHAT?  We’re granting more permits to the very same company that has destroyed peoples lives, work, and ecological treasures in the Gulf?  We’re allowing them to potentially ruin the Alaska wilderness?  Really?  Is our government incapable of understanding that a fossil fuel economy is no longer justifiable?  When will our government finally wake up?  After every ecological treasure in the country is destroyed and everyone is jobless?

Luckily for humanity, communities and activists are working on solutions to protect people and the planet. Continue reading ‘Government Failing, Communities Succeeding’

I was shocked, once again, as I witnessed the lackadaisical cleanup efforts of the BP oil spill.

Last week, Brinkley Hutchings reported what she saw as she flew over the Gulf oil spill for her first time. Watch an astonishing aerial video of the slick shot by John Wathen as they flew from Brinkley’s home to the source of the spill and back on May 7th.  She flew over it for a second time Monday. Watch the updated video from May 17th (Below).

I was shocked, once again, as I witnessed the lackadaisical cleanup efforts.  I know that an oil spill cannot be completely cleaned up, but there should at least be an honest and organized effort to do everything we can! I saw highly ineffective plastic booms along the Gulf Coast and a few boats scooping up very miniscule fractions of the spill. Some of the booms have floated ashore, crinkled up on the beach; some sit perpendicular to the shoreline; others are overturned by waves; some pieces of them have broken off and are floating lazily with the waves. The high volume flow of oil, certainly more than 5000 barrels per day, into the Gulf still hasn’t been stopped. What is going on? Why isn’t an effective, organized cleanup being mandated?! This is outrageous.

Click for more photos of bungled efforts

Several segments of the media are relying on erroneous information from BP and the Coast Guard in reporting the magnitude of the “ongoing cleanup” activities.  Even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has it wrong. NOAA currently indicates on their maps that there are areas of “potential beached oil” in Venice, Louisiana when there is definite beached oil, whose magnitude of which is far greater than what is depicted on the maps. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Continue reading ‘I was shocked, once again, as I witnessed the lackadaisical cleanup efforts of the BP oil spill.’

Youth Less Concerned About Global Warming than their Elders?

Today the Yale Project on Climate Change is releasing a report entitled, “The Climate Change Generation?: Survey Analysis of the Perceptions and Beliefs of Young Americans.” Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

Photo Credit: Dakota Fine

American adults under the age of 35 have come of age in the decades since the “discovery” of man-made climate change as a major societal problem. The oldest of this cohort was twelve in 1988, when NASA climate scientist James Hansen testified at a Senate Energy Committee hearing that global temperature rise was underway and that human-produced greenhouse gases were almost certainly responsible. For this reason, the conventional wisdom holds that young Americans, growing up in a world of ever more certain scientific evidence, increasing news attention, alarming entertainment portrayals, and school-based curricula, should be more engaged with and concerned about the issue of climate change than older Americans.

However, contrary to this conventional wisdom, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are, for the most part, split on the issue of global warming and, on some indicators, relatively disengaged when compared to older generations. Continue reading ‘Youth Less Concerned About Global Warming than their Elders?’

2009 – Explosion of the climate change movement

In 2009, millions of people came together around the world to pressure leaders to sign a legally binding and ambitious deal in Copenhagen. Although the final result in Copenhagen was a failure, 2009 was the year that the climate movement exploded. This energy will carry forward and we will continue to build in numbers until sustainability is achieved. This multimedia piece looks at the growth of this movement throughout 2009.

Take a moment and watch hundreds of those around the world taking action and inspiring others in the fight for climate justice.

All images (unless provided by ©Robert van Waarden,
Music – “Open Road Kisses” by Small Affairs

Pittsburgh youth kick-off what Congressman Doyle calls a “swell of grassroots action”

Pittsburgh youth aren’t waiting to kick-off their Define Our Decade efforts.  They launched it this past week with “Rustbelt Renewal: a town hall forum on the promise of a clean energy future.” More than eighty young people and community members engaged with a distinguished panel on the issues of climate legislation and building a clean energy economy.   The four panelists were Congressman Mike Doyle; Patrick McMahon President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85; Dr. Constantine Samaras of Carnegie Mellon University and RAND Corporation; and Bob Wallace, director of Penn State University’s BioBridge Program.

The panelists touched on the importance of educating the masses, changing mindsets around energy usage, and how creating clean energy jobs could boost the local economy. Congressman Doyle explained how “the US will benefit from a green revolution,” and spoke about Pittsburgh’s importance as a hub for the new clean energy economy saying, “there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between a healthy environment and a good economy,” because clean energy jobs are just “good business sense.” The sentiment shared by all panelist was that even if we’re wrong about anthropogenic climate change, we’ll still have made the best economy in the world.

Continue reading ‘Pittsburgh youth kick-off what Congressman Doyle calls a “swell of grassroots action”’

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