Posts filed under ‘national’
On Friday, April 15, 2011, a group of 15 young people representing the Energy Action Coalition met with Senior White House staff, and were surprised but pleased when President Barack Obama joined the group for 25 minutes to discuss the Obama Administration energy policies.
The meeting came after Energy Action Coalition contacted national media about Power Shift 2011, stating that “10,000 young, forgotten Obama voters” were coming together in Washington, DC to learn key organizing skills to move beyond dirty energy and advance the clean energy economy. After interest from several major media outlets, the Obama Administration began taking seriously Energy Action Coalition and the youth climate movement it represents.
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post have all covered the story, quoting Southern Energy Network Organizer Jenna Garland and Development Assistant Kelsea Norris.
After the 1-year anniversary of the BP Oil Disaster last week, which devastated the Gulf of Mexico and further devastated the lives of Gulf communities, President Obama needs to dream bigger and commit to the promises he made during the 2008 campaign.
President Obama’s message for Energy Action Coalition and the youth climate movement was that we need to lead grassroots organizing across the country, especially targeting Congress. After Congress failed to pass meaningful climate legislation and the UN Climate negotiations failed, many have turned back to their states and communities, looking to make change happen locally.
Young people are leading the movement beyond dirty energy to a clean, just energy economy. From shutting down coal plants to building clean energy infrastructure, young people have demonstrated where the future lies, and how we must act in the present to achieve our goals.
I haven’t had much of an appetite lately… With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, confirmed reports of bio-diversities continued global decline, and another delay in adoption of a National Climate Policy, my stomaches been in knots. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep myself from sulking, and have found some inspiration through a critical political moment.
The North Carolina Primary Election kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday May 4th). Turnout for mid-term primaries is historically low, with young people being in the lowest turnout percentage. Regardless, with everything going on in the world, I feel compelled to do my part to flip that trend in 2010! I realized more than ever that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for and we will be the ones to define this decade.. Therefore it is up to us what the future looks like.
Polls are open from 7:30a.m – 6:30p.m. To find your polling place CLICK HERE
Here are 4 reasons you need to cast your vote this mid-term election
- Almost every ecosystem and resource on the planet is in a state of decline
- We’ve got to change the political tides and we need the strongest leadership to do that
- Your voice counts and now is not the time to be silent.
- Turnout in Mid-term elections is low, that means, as young people, we can have a HUGE impact!!
- Because they are just as important, if not more so, as Presidential Elections.
Please share this Facebook link with your networks to get others to vote this Mid-term Election.
Vote and Voter Early!
Written by Lorena Hildebrandt, SEN Steering Committee Member & Winthrop University Student.
Earlier last month, I was privileged to attend the National Council for Science and the Environment’s conference in Washington, D.C. on the creation of a new green economy with several professors and another student from my university. Scientists, academics, and policy makers gathered to discuss alternatives to our current economic system. It was incredibly exciting to participate in the dialogue of a new economic model that incorporates ecological principles rather than the externalization of the true costs of production at the expense of human health and the environment.
Many new ideas and innovative concepts electrified the air in the Reagan conference center, but there were some that remain especially prominent in my consciousness as an activist. One was a question posed by author and filmmaker John de Graaf, whose work criticizes the environmentally detrimental endless treadmill of consumption capitalism generates, otherwise known as affluenza. In a workshop designed to create policy recommendations to the Obama Administration, Graaf asked about a dozen of us, “what is the economy for anyway?” Graaf was questioning policy that places the market and GDP above all other considerations such as human health/well-being and the environment. I think this is an important question to keep in mind as we seek solutions to environmental problems through policy. What is our economy for anyway? Are there sacrifices we can make?
I was most struck by Gus Speth, former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and his closing speech. His message resonated with me as an activist and student studying environmental history and environmental political theory. Speth spoke about the history of environmentalism in the U.S. beginning in the late 1960s and early 70s with an orientation known as survivalism. Surivialism stresses the limits of growth in a world of finite resources. He spoke about how there was an outcry from the public, creating an imperative for action. This new ecological movement created momentum for new environmental policies in the latter part of the 20th century.
Speth warned however, that “early successes have locked us into patterns of environmental solutions” that are no match for the ecological crisis we have at hand. After four decades of environmental work opting to work within the system rather than fix it, Speth explained, “here we stand at the brink of world destruction.” His inescapable conclusion? We need “a new environmentalism in America, the world.” This new environmentalism amounts to the incorporation of not just environmental reform but political, social, and economic reform – a new progressive movement holistic and conscious enough to act for solutions that are deeper than traditional models. As an activist, I think this level of consciousness regarding the destructiveness of our current systems is good to keep in mind while engaging in political advocacy work.
For more information on the National Council for Science and the Environment and research on environmental issues check out: http://ncseonline.org/
Power Shift Carolinas is here! Weeks of planning have culminated in hundreds of students gathering at the campus of UNC Chapel Hill this weekend. This morning we heard inspiring speakers that reminded us that we must take this movement beyond conferences and meetings. They reminded us that the climate movement is not so unique from any other social movement. We are all seeking a new paradigm that addresses issues of domination and oppression of people’s livelihoods. Students braved crisp October weather as we sat in an outdoor theater and were reminded that being green is not always easy, despite what retailers often make us think.
I have now stepped away from the workshop halls where my peers are learning skills that they will take home with them to teach to others. Away from the Power Shift hub-bub I find myself on a plush sofa in the UNC Chapel Hill student union with a TV blaring beside me and students munching on disposable platters that will soon disappear into a waste stream that terminates in an unknown place. I remember that I’m responsible too, we all are. Seeking climate justice is going to be a long winding path that won’t end with a federal climate bill and won’t end in Copenhagen.
Here at Power Shift I join some of the most amazing people I know. These are friends who constantly motivate and inspire me with their passion and energy and make me believe that it is possible. As Marcie Smith, said this morning, “it is the incremental steps and actions that are building to a tipping point in this movement and that will lead us to the future we seek.” Power Shift Carolinas is proving that people throughout the U.S. Southeast are ready – are you?
Now, more than ever, Floridians need to stand up and show we are ready to usher in a brighter energy future. An energy future that is just and safe for all and uses truly renewable sources. An energy future that neither relies on fossil fuels nor creates a legacy of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years. Want solar in the Sunshine State? Florida needs a POWER SHIFT!
Right now, Washington is leading us in the wrong direction. Check out what Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham have to say in their NY Times Op Ed yesterday.
The emphasis Kerry and Graham place on expensive risky nuclear, the mythical “clean coal,” and coastal drilling leaves Florida wondering when the sun will shine on our economy? The United States as a whole needs bold action to protect our climate and secure our energy. Drilling does neither–instead it maintains our dependence on dirty oil, and it does little to reduce our need for foreign oil. Nuclear is the ‘thirstiest‘ energy out there, requiring millions of gallons of water per day. These technologies do not bring the jobs we need, but renewables will!
Florida has a lot to lose in the face climate change, but so much to gain from real solutions. We need solutions that are safe, clean, renewable, and create jobs! Join hundreds of other engaged and passionate young people as we demand a Power Shift in Orlando, FL Oct 23-25 at University of Central Florida campus Arena.
Have 15 minutes? Here are 2 things you can do Right Now:
Attend Florida Power Shift! We were 6,000 strong in DC back in 2007. In March of this year, we doubled that number and really showed our legislators that young people in our country are serious about climate change and are here to support strong action toward real solutions. Now, we are bringing it home to Florida to demand safe and renewable energy. Don’t miss the early Registration Friday 10/16!
Contact the Florida Public Service Commission and tell them you won’t pay for their nuclear reactors! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and Reference Docket # 090009. Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light want to charge you now for reactors that may never be built. Please contact them today! Need talking points? Check this out.
Please contact me with any questions!
Hope to see you next weekend in Orlando!
Florida Organizer, Southern Energy Network
This past weekend at University of Florida, over 70 young people from 9 universities across the state joined forces with Southern Energy Network at the Florida Youth Energy Sustainability (YES) Summit. It was an action packed day and a half of workshops and strategizing sessions interspersed with great energy and fun!
The goals of the summit centered around building relationships, increasing communication, and strategizing upcoming campaigns. The Green Fee campaign got a make over. Students from several schools are creating a committee to escalate the campaign and develop a plan to take on the Florida legislature, this time for a win! The anti-nuclear campaign gained more steam and will be one of the networks primary campaigns this year with plans under way to increase pressure at the state and national levels.
Last, but certainly not least, we talked about the Power Shift campaign and how Florida is going to raise their voices to join the chorus of young people demanding bold climate legislation before United Nations Climate Negotiations in December. Florida is ready to have an awesome event in Orlando on October 24th, just in time for the 350.org International Day of Action. Our state has a lot to lose in the face of climate change and we are stepping up to the challenge!
Yesterday at 12:18pm, UGA students gathered on campus for a fun, peaceful, “flash mob”. As synchronized phone alarms sounded, people held their phones in the air joining other groups around the globe in sending a flood of phone calls to world leaders urging climate action.
Why 12:18pm? The 18th day of the 12th month (December) is the final day of the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen where the world leaders must agree to an ambitious fair and binding treaty to avert a climate catastrophe.
Over 1000 similar events were held in more than 88 countries to deliver a resounding wake-up call to world leaders before they meet today in New York for critical climate talks.
Polls show 90% of people worldwide see climate change as a serious problem. Experts say a UN climate pact in Copenhagen in December risks failure unless world leaders revive bogged-down negotiations this week.
“The idea of a global climate wake-up call got going just a few weeks ago, and it’s snowballing into a massive mobilization of millions around the world who want leaders to do more to stop runaway climate change,” said Kelsea Norris, a member of the Southern Energy Network.
“UGA students are taking part to help show the huge level of public concern that climate talks move far and fast enough to deliver a deal that will avert climate catastrophe and unleash a new green economy.”
A broad coalition of major environmental and anti-poverty organisations as well as faith, civic and youth networks – called the TCKTCKTCK campaign for the ticking-clock urgency of climate change – is backing the campaign effort.
Film and photographs from the day’s event will be compiled and shown to world leaders and at theUS premiere of climate film Age of Stupid, to be shown in 400+ theatres simultaneously. Audiences will also take part in flooding their government with calls to get climate talks on track and deliver a “fair, ambitious, and binding” new climate treaty.
Students from the Southern Energy Network will continue to put on events like this to push for climate legislation federally and right here in Georgia. Their next meeting will be on Oct 10th. To find out more or get involved, contact SEN Georgia Organizer Rebecca Van Damm at Rebecca@climateaction.net .
It’s heartbreaking but true: Van Jones, our beloved beacon of green-collar hope and environmental justice for all, has left the building. After enduring attacks from Fox News personality, Glenn Beck, who spinned a couple tame activities into ghosts of Jones’ activist past—I’m sorry, but who DIDN’T sign a 9/11 conspiracy petition, and really, who cares?—he has stepped down from his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Some say it’s our fault. According to Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, the environmental movement didn’t take the threat of these allegations seriously enough, mobilize fast enough and back Van Jones up enough to prevent the end of his White House career.
Others say it’s a blessing in disguise. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post half facetiously thanked Glenn Beck in a recent article for his smear campaign against Jones, asserting that his resignation will put his skills and talents to better use: out of the government and back in the movement.
What does Van Jones have to say about all this? He asks us not to stand with him, but to stand with the environmental movement as a whole. “I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to ‘stay and fight.’ But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.” You can read the full article here.
I personally have mixed emotions about Jones’ resignation. Yes, we need to focus on the big picture but could he have done so more effectively by staying put? And did he really quit or was he asked to leave by the administration? Can he realistically return as the face of Green Jobs or is his name tainted? What are we gonna do now?
Ultimately, however, what Jones’ or any figurehead of our movement did or did not do is in the past and out of our control. Whatever attacks the anti-progressive peanut gallery pull out of their hats is also out of our control and not bound to stop anytime soon. We can rest assured that Glenn Beck and his posse of ignorance and greed have a whole artillery of tricks up their sleeves and are waiting just around the corner to hit us with a another curve ball at any moment. They’ve commandeered healthcare and now they’re coming for the green-collar movement.
We can’t ignore rightwing media, but we also can’t let some fringe element hijack our movement. And we won’t—not in our name and not in the name of our leaders.
It’s not our job to let thoughts of worry and anger flood our pretty little heads. It’s our job to organize. If nothing else, this is a reminder that we need to stand together in solidarity.
We can start by following Van Jones’ example. Almost every person in the environmental justice movement has a story about how his words and actions have inspired them whether it was in an audience of twelve thousand peers listening to one of his many moving speeches or even a one-on-one interaction. Our executive director, Stephanie Powell, for example, had the privilege of chatting with him back in 2007 at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference. Van overheard that she was working in the Gulf Coast post hurricane Katrina and sought her out to ask her more about her work and thank her for what she was doing.
The Van we know is a very busy man who always takes the time to care and be supportive of another organizer. It’s critical that we remember to do the same no matter how our schedules fill up. He’s not just a figurehead, he’s a person. We need to show the same compassion and not just support him but support others in the movement.
The best way to show this support is to call for real action on global warming. It’s time for a wake-up call. On September 21, people all over the country are getting together in public places everywhere for “wake-up call” flash-mob events, pressing our Senators to take action on clean energy jobs & climate! Click here to get involved!
Southern Energy Network represented at the Institute for Environmental Energy Research Carbon Free Nuclear Free workshop last week in Washington, DC. Jessica Burris, one of our interning volunteers, and I spent 5 days learning all sorts of technical information about nuclear energy. We covered a broad range of topics, everything from reprocessing and uranium enrichment to nuclear disarmament. We held strategy sessions to further the Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign, and then we all had the opportunity to make a presentation to the panel of scientists that work at the Institute. We also heard from experts (from France even!) about why nuclear in France isn’t the love affair we understand it to be.
Jessica and I worked together on a presentation that begins the initial research phases of a larger project that will become her Master’s thesis. She is looking at the Environmental Justice implications of nuclear energy in Florida. Our initial findings were that the existing nuclear reactors in Florida, as well as the new reactor proposals, are all located in communities that have a combination of the following characteristics: well below the average median income for the state, majority minority, well over median age, and very high unemployment. Other characteristics of the areas in which these reactors exist or are proposed: high rates of asthma, high infant mortality, high cancer rates, high percentages of Spanish language homes, and low rates of high school or equivalency attainment. Although we had to revisit some of the science that supported our initial conclusions, our overarching and supported conclusion was that the communities that have nuclear reactors in their backyard are full of people that already have a lot of socio-economic factors to contend with in their daily survival, and that the additional burden on their health and environment is a serious environmental racism and justice issue.
If you are still undecided about nuclear energy, here are some things to consider:
**Nuclear reactors produce tons of spent fuel, which is high-level radioactive waste that is harmful to all life for over 10,000 years.
**There is currently no long-term storage for all of this waste.
**Nuclear reactors also produce tons of low-level waste that creates another “safe storage” problem.
**Nuclear reactors are VERY THRISTY. In a world with increasing water shortages, we need less water intensive alternatives.
**Nuclear energy is risky business. Wall Street won’t invest in it, why should you? Many states, including Florida, are passing the capital costs onto you with “Early Cost Recovery” and “Construction Work in Progress” rate-increases on your energy bill. See Regress Energy for more information on how this is playing out in Florida.
**Thermal discharge from reactors endangers surrounding marine eco-systems.
For more on the science behind this madness, check out www.ieer.org
The Southeast currently has 13 new nuclear reactor proposals. There are a number of local, state, regional, and national groups getting organized to keep these expensive, risky, water intensive, dangerous energy sources out of our communities. Here are some organizations that you can plug into to take action:
Southern Energy Network–We are looking to build a team of passionate youth to organize our region out of risky nuclear and into renewables! Contact email@example.com for more information.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Institute for Environmental and Energy Research
Now that classes are over, exams are done, and grades are in, I – along with millions of other students across the U.S. – have finally begun to prepare for what will undoubtedly be an incredibly exciting summer. I’ll certainly be keeping busy with classes, work, and plenty of travel plans, but, to be completely honest, I’m excited about much more than beach trips, concerts, and spending time with my friends and family.
In recent years, climate and energy issues have gained considerable media momentum and have garnered the attention of politicians across the country. President Obama has spoken about the issue and people across the planet are beginning to take serious notice. As both a young person and someone who cares deeply about these issues, I have decided to spend my summer working with other young people to push for bold change in current U.S. climate policies. This is an incredibly exciting time for the U.S. and given what’s going on in D.C., this summer is the time for change.
Perhaps one of the most exciting events of the summer is California Rep. Henry Waxman’s climate bill, which was proposed earlier this spring. The bill, formally titled the American Clean Energy and Securities Act of 2009, is currently in the hands of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where it is being revised and edited. In its current state, the bill seeks to define “clean energy” and regulate it on the national level, plans to enforce a cap on carbon emissions, and promises to enact new efficiency standards for the transportation, construction, and energy industries. If anything, the introduction of this bill shows that our elected officials are beginning to realize that the demand for drastic change cannot be met with legislative inaction.
All said, aspects of the bill absolutely must be stronger and we, as advocates for a safer, healthier future, need to speak loudly and let our demands be known. We need a bill with renewable energy targets that mirror the numbers suggested by scientific research, we need a bill that does not give pollution handouts to dirty energy corporations, and we need a bill that will provide the appropriate funding and resources to fully support a nationwide transition to a clean energy future.
Our future is at stake and as both young people and environmental advocates, it’s our job to demand a strong bill that is hopeful and promises to make deep, lasting changes. It’s up to us to inspire our elected officials and although it won’t be an easy job, it’s certainly not impossible.
First, it’s up to us to hold our elected officials accountable for their part in the construction and movement of this bill. We need to contact our congressmen (by phone, e-mail, mail, fax, etc.) and demand that they request changes that reflect the interests of their constituents. We elected them, we are trusting them with a huge responsibility. It’s imperative that we tell them what we need and let them know that we’re paying attention.
We also need to raise public awareness by telling our stories. We can write letters to the editor, opinion editorials, blog posts, facebook posts, twitter feeds. Further, it’s critical that we speak about this issue whenever possible. Tell your friends, family, classmates, colleagues, and neighbors about the bill and explain what they can do to help. Let them know that they, too, can write a Letter to the Editor or phone their congressman. It may sound surprising, but one well-written editorial makes a difference, just the same as one vote can make a difference.
The key to inspiring change is a combination of awareness and action; we need to be knowledgeable of the federal goings-on while also encouraging our communities, universities, and local governments to fight for bold national change. It’s a tough job, but we proved ourselves with Power Vote and Power Shift. As young people, students, and individuals who care deeply about our country’s future, we create a strong, unified voice and we have all the ambition, intelligence, and creativity necessary to inspire change. Let’s talk about this bill, let’s write about this bill, and let’s prove that we’ve got a mission and a purpose. Now is the time to demand bold action and even bolder change and though the summer may be short, now is the time to make it happen.