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Eugene, Oregon, United States
I believe my generation has the unique opportunity to save the world. If no action is taken, the world will see catastrophic climate change within the next half century, the cost of which will be measured in human lives. But at this pivotal moment, we have a window of opportunity. We can create the just, sustainable and prosperous future that we seek. I am a Vassar student spending my junior year at the University of Oregon, and I am going to Copenhagen this December to do everything I can to ensure that a mutual survival pact is agreed upon, not a suicide pact.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Dirty Air Act

Fifteen young people wearing eery surgical face masks walk down the Halls of Congress and take a sharp right into Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) office.  They pile into the small reception area decorated with various pictures of Alaskan wildlife and cheesy souvenirs from the Last Frontier.  Startled, the receptionist puts the incoming calls on hold as one steps forward to say, “As young people, we demand Senator Murkowski stop putting public health in danger by trying to block the EPA from regulating polluters of carbon dioxide emissions.”

That person speaking up for the Clean Air Act was me.  Several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to win the Consequence Campaign’s Organize to be Heard Challenge by being one of the top ten students to organize grassroots political actions in support of a strong climate bill.  My prize?  A trip to Washington, D.C. to lobby my senators’ offices, meet with Senators Jeff Merkley and John Kerry, attend a press conference with the Hip Hop Caucus and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, make campaign plans for the April Congressional Recesses and, of course, defend the Clean Air Act.

Shortly after we dropped our message off at Senator Murkowski’s office, we were redirected to McKie Campbell, the Republican staff director of the Energy and Natural Resources committee. Mr. Campbell proceeded to inform us of Senator Murkowski “dedication” to fighting climate change, excusing the Senator's attempts to introduce the Dirty Air Act Amendment (which would disallow the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases) by claiming the EPA wasn't the right avenue to do so.  We agreed a bill independent of the whims of every presidential administration provided a better route, but asked him, “If Senator Murkowski is so committed to fighting climate change, why doesn’t she focus on solutions instead of diversionary tactics like the Dirty Air Act Amendment?” He responded circuitously, answering like your typical politician before concluding the meeting with an unprovoked assurance that Senator Murkowski wasn’t in the pocket of dirty energy.

The irony of his statement came the next night when our friends at Clean Energy Works caught wind of a fundraiser that Senator Murkowski was holding on the first floor of the very building that houses their headquarters.  Guess who the main contributers were!  Representatives of Dirty Coal and Dirty Nuclear!  Boom.  We stood outside the posh restaurant where it was being held with signs that said “No Dirty Air Act” and wearing our face masks.  As the featured guests filed in, we stood solemnly in support of clean air and public health.  Senator Murkowski herself quickly shuffled by us and into the door with her head down, unable to meet the eyes of the future generations she is recklessly endangering.

To take action against the Dirty Air Act, click here.

To join my campaign to pass strong climate legislation this year, click here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On my way to the Hill

Last week I found out that I won the Consequence '09 Organize to be Heard Challenge!  Since November I have been entering 'climate organizing activities' into the challenge's website and getting points for things like published letters to the editors, media hits and organizing letter writing parties.  It turns out that I am one of the ten students from across the country who got the most points so I am being flown to DC for a week full of climate activism!  Some highlights of the schedule are a meeting with Senator John Kerry, a press conference with the Hip Hop Caucus and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, as well as meetings with the staff of Senators Boxer, Nelson, Wyden, Merkley, Feinstein and Lugar.  I am flying out of Eugene right now and I will be back on Friday!  I'll be sure to give an update of the trip!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dear Aziz Ansari

Dear Aziz Ansari,

I downloaded your comedy album (oh so legally) the other day and listened to it while I drove back from visiting my parents house (now it is like we went on a road trip together!).  I thought that maybe one day when you are googling yourself you will find this blog post.  I just hope you don't die because of it.

I am jealous that you hang out with Kanye West because he is probably one of my favorite celebrities due to his ridiculousness.  Have you seen this video?? It will blow your mind.  And this one is just awesome.  I bet you have seen those videos because you two are so tight.  They were probably your idea huh.  Well maybe your cousin would enjoy them if he hasn't seen them yet.

So I was trying to think of a reason why you would want to respond to me, and then I remembered that I am running a campaign against climate change!  You should be our mascot :) Or we could just hang out sometime.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

THIS is What Democracy Looks Like

In my last blog post after Copenhagen, I declared my commitment to this movement.  Shortly afterward, I starting brainstorming with a few people I met in Copenhagen, and we decided that what this country needs to pass progressive climate legislation is a massive groundswell of support targeted directly at our elected officials.  For the past month, we have been developing a campaign to do just that.  Below is our first blog post on the U.S. youth climate movement's community blog:
Crossposted from IGHIH
Written by Moey Newbold, Kalen Pruss, Rob Friedman and Blaine O’Neill
“Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

As we’ve fought for our clean energy future, we’ve passionately chanted these words again and again, asserting that citizen action is what truly drives political change.   With the growth of our movement, we’ve all engaged in amazing citizen actions, pressuring our elected officials to solve the climate crisis in every way we know how.
Despite our continued efforts, Copenhagen was a flop, and our elected officials are falling victim to big oil and big coal.  We can’t afford to watch this happen.  It is time for us to ramp up the action.  We need to take democracy back.

After witnessing the devastating effects of U.S. inaction in Copenhagen, we created the Show Me Democracy campaign.  We aim to pull our generation together to demand that the United States step it up dramatically before the next major international climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico this December.  But this time, we are going to do more than just send emails and write petitions.  We are going to consistently engage our elected representatives, storming Senate field offices across the country with a simple, united message: take immediate action to halt global warming at home… and then go to Mexico in December with a serious plan for an international climate change agreement.
We recognize that policy decisions are heavily influenced by industry lobbyists who will do anything to kill a domestic climate bill.  They have billions of dollars at their disposal and thousands of professional lobbyists who descend on Washington every day to make back-door deals that put our future in jeopardy.  But we have something stronger.  We have an army of young people who know that this fight is about our future; we know that there are millions of Americans who need clean energy jobs, and millions more who want to pass on a better world to their children and grandchildren.
This spring, we are going to mobilize this army, building teams across the country to lead sustained, localized campaigns in support of domestic climate change legislation. Show Me Democracy will empower these teams to form community partnerships that bring local clean energy initiatives, agriculture, business, manufacturing, and religious groups together with climate activist networks already on the ground to demand a clean energy future. We’re going to take these diverse voices to our Senators’ offices–and we’re going to keep going back until our Senators listen, and pass an effective, equitable climate bill.  After all, we elected them to do just that.
Show Me Democracy is not just a campaign; it is a call to action. And we’re beginning this call tomorrow, January 27th, at 8:00 p.m. EST. Join us as we launch our campaign; dial in to participate in our first nationwide conference call; and then get involved to help us take democracy back.
By inspiring our generation to unite and engage in our democracy, we will pass climate legislation that cuts carbon dramatically and immediately, creates a robust green economy, powers our future with renewable energy, and leads the world to a clean and equitable future.  But we need your help! Dial inlog on, and sign up.
The Show Me Democracy Team
Show Me Democracy Kick-off Call
Wednesday, January 27th, 8:00 PM EST (5:00 PM PST)
Call in number: (517) 417-5200
Secret passcode: 517935
Facebook Event
Visit for more information.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Future Lies within Each and Every One of Us

I’m sitting at the Copenhagen airport looking out onto the snowy sunrise outside (its 8:45am, and I’ve been up for hours, but the sun is just beginning to peek through the clouds in this perpetually dark country).  This airport is probably the most incredible airport I’ve ever been to. Its like a mix between an upscale resort, a luxury shopping mall and a fine art museum.  Everything runs smoothly, police officers joke with you as you whisk through security, carolers in santa hats stroll randomly through the halls singing Christmas carols (no kidding), and there are more high-end shops than boarding gates.

Just in case you want to buy a car on your way out

I decided to use my last few Kroners on my first real Danish, and as I enjoy it I realize  that there are a lot of things I didn’t get to do in Copenhagen.  I did not get a chance to see my dad’s favorite church in the world, I didn’t see the famous little mermaid in the Copenhagen harbor, I didn’t go to any museums or historic sites, I didn’t ride the amusements or stroll through the gardens in Tivoli, I didn’t go shopping at the magical Christmas markets (please don’t expect any Scandanavian Christmas presents, friends!), I didn’t even make it to Christiania, the (ex) ‘free town’ where people lived outside the jurisdiction of the government for years.

What I did get from Copenhagen, though, was the chance to witness the very best and worst of humanity all at once.  I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who sacrificed so much to come here to fight for the survival of vulnerable nations and future generations they will never meet, witness brave leaders of small island nations standing up to the most powerful countries in the world and demanding to be heard, and I was able to march with people from every demographic, generation and corner of the world in the freezing cold with a shared vision for a better future.  Then, all at once, I was made to feel helpless as we were pushed out of the conversation and forced to stand back and watch as a few politicians put their own political well-being before the lives of millions.  Experiencing this jarring dichotomy firsthand on such a large scale is something that I know will have a profound impact on many of us, and though I am still processing this experience, I’m sure I am not the same as when I first landed in Denmark.

I have always been one to work ‘within the existing system;’ I have always believed in lobbying and the political process.  But thousands of youth and other stakeholders came to Copenhagen to make our voices heard: We Want a Safe Future!  One hundred thousand people marched in the cold! Candlelight vigils for survival were held all over the world!  Twelve million people worldwide signed  a petition for a fair, ambitious and binding deal!  And yet, world leaders talked and talked and did nothing.  They ‘took note of’ a document which puts the world on a path to 3.5 degrees of warming by 2100.  This means that millions of people will die, and thousands will continue to die every day.  Coming to Copenhagen, I feel the burden of those peoples’ lives now more than ever.  Why doesn’t Obama feel this same burden?  

The snow outside is so peaceful, and the thought that life is just going to go on, blanketed by this very thin veil of a false sense of security, is hard to swallow.  I have had a glimpse of what lies beneath this white gild, and I know its grotesqueness.  But I also know that nobody is giving up.  With hardly a glance backwards at this tragedy, the international youth climate movement is moving forward.  Our movement has had a chance to coalesce here in Copenhagen, and we are now stronger than ever.  Representative Jay Inslee said that we should be prepared to be frustrated for the rest of our lives, and I think that is certainly something I have learned in Copenhagen: I have made a lifelong commitment, and it isn’t going to end when the Senate Bill passes, at COP16, or even at carbon neutral.

Fortunately, I am not alone.  We have all made this commitment, and the connections I have made here are more valuable than any souvenir I could have brought home.  The road will be rough, we will have many more disappointments and crushing defeats, but as long as we have each other, we will succeed.

"The future lies within each and every one of us" -Peter Roquemore

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We wanted just action, not "just" action: COP15 Failure

As you've heard, the negotiations have ended in an accord drafted by Obama with a select few countries (can you say UNDEMOCRATIC?) that has been "acknowledged" by the parties.  From what I understand, basically everyone has just put on the table what they are already doing and 'acknowledged' that they will continue to do it.  This is highly disappointing, and it remains to be seen whether it is even better than a complete failure.  I'm not sure that it is because Obama and other leaders are already touting this accord as a major accomplishment, which it is not.  Please read my friend Amira's analysis of the outcome.  I think that it is very thorough and accurate.

Here in Copenhagen, as we prepare to leave, we have not really even been paying attention to this final day of negotiations.  We know that we are not going to get what is needed to ensure the survival of all nations, and so we are looking forward.  Although we are all emotionally and physically drained after many sleepless nights and bitingly cold days, the amount of determination I see in all my new (and newer) friends' faces as I look around inspires me and shows me that COP15, outside the halls of the Bella Center, was not a failure.  This conference brought together thousands of representatives of the International Youth Climate Movement, and showed us our own strength.  We made connections that will last a lifetime, and we all know that we will not give up.  

A Meeting With Some Real Leaders

Yesterday, climate champion and US Representative Jay Inslee invited US youth to meet with him at the Hard Rock Cafe in Copenhagen.  About ten other youth and I attended this informal meeting.  The incredible thing was that Rep. Inslee reached out to us, and not the other way around.  Not only that, but he recruited his colleagues House Majority Leader Hoyer and Congressman Tim Ryan to join us!  This shows the real power that youth have - our Congresspeople understand our importance and our seeking meetings with us!

It was actually very insightful to hear from these true leaders about how we can best get the Senate Climate Bill passed.  We need to show the Senators who come from states like Ohio that have been ravaged by the economic downturn that a climate bill will create millions of green jobs!  We need to engage the agricultural sector, we need to continue to reach out to religious communities.  The most wonderful thing about this movement, and an unexpected positive aspect to this crisis is its vast applicability.  This problem is not only geographically borderless, but it also affects every subgroup within every community, and the solutions have the possibility to be positive for everyone in our society.