Young Citizens Taking Climate Change by the Horns

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Photo: from Change It 07 via IGHIH blog

It is all
very, very exciting to see how PowerShift 2007 is shaping up!

James Hansen is Coming!
James Hansen, the venerable director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies just said he would be more than happy to address the 3,000-5,000 youth expected to attend! Massimo and I shared in on the excitement over the phone. I totally skipped Cloud 9 and went to Cloud 10. Twenty minutes of pure elation led to more ideas, more strategies, and a little bit too much adrenaline to my noggin. I had to call Arthur and Billy from Campus Climate Challenge immediately. It took a full day for me to calm down, but I was easily lulled back into stealth fighter mode on my way to the Charity: Water benefit at Project Greenhouse* with Massimo (three hours in a car with a rocking psychologist studying climate change will do that to you). We cogitated over all the mind-blowing projects we've been working on and plan to work on - which seems to have multiplied over the last few months.

There are just so many bang-up ideas swirling around - we just can't wait to get them off the ground and running. The programs are focused on how we can begin turning awareness into continuous engagement. The approach is really creative and engaging - so it'll be interesting to see how the public responds to them...(Speaking of getting people involved, a new report on how much impact Live Earth has affected people's engagement will be coming out shortly - a joint report out of Columbia and Yale Universities).

Photo: from the IGHIH blog

Let's Get Moving!
Everyone's effort is greatly needed, but we need to graduate from the "little things we can do" (i.e. changing every frigging light bulb in the house) and ramp up to a more concerted effort for a sweeping change. A report was recently forwarded to me with some startling comparisons compiled by the 2030 Research Center. An abridged summary is listed below:

The Campus Climate Challenge, a growing student movement in the US...calls for all high schools and college campus in the U.S. to go carbon neutral. If the challenge were met, the CO2 emissions from just 4 medium-sized coal-fired power plants each year would negate the CCC's entire effort.
If every household in the U.S. changed a 60-watt incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent, the CO2 emissions from just two medium-sized coal-fired power plants each year would negate this entire effort.

California, which makes up over 10% of the country's new vehicle market, passed legislation to cut GHG emissions in new cars by 25% and in SUVs by 18%, starting in 2009. If every car and SUV sold in California in 2009 met this standard, the CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized coal-fired power plant, in just eight months of operation each year, would negate California's 2009 effort.

Wal-Mart, the largest "private" purchaser of electricity in the world is investing a half billion dollars to reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of their existing buildings by 20% over the next 7 years. "As one of the largest companies in the world, with an expanding global presence, environmental problems are our problems," said CEO Lee Scott. The CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized coal-fired power plant, in just one month of operation each year, would negate Wal-Mart's entire effort.

The comparison really colors the challenge we have. I don't know how other people react to the statistics above, but it totally sparks a fire under my ass. I've reworked my letter to my Congressman (that I know I was supposed to send over 6 months ago), but I'm glad I'm sending it now. I made sure to clearly lay out my thoughts on the coal issue. I'll be sure to post the letter up when/if I get a response back from him. Calling his office this week too. Let's rouse this myopic world.

* I'll keep you updated on the Project Greenhouse-PowerShift 2007 fundraiser too - so check back often! Cheers!!!

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