I never thought good people
Would ever, ever fail.
And let this wonderful world
Be like a prison jail. – James Brown, 1969
Three glassy-eyed reps from the EPA listened all day to supporters and opponents of the newly proposed Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions considerably in order to tackle the most important public health issue of our time. The room was filled with those eager to be heard. I didn’t prepare a written testimony, so I planned on touching on a few points I jotted down in my iPad in order to fill the required five minute time limit. I was emotionally and factually prepared, as I’ve been following these issues since the age of 15.
Given the subpar sound system and disengaged panel (not even a “hello”), I was forced to reckon with the idea that somehow the Clean Power Plan isn’t important enough. But it is… it’s the most important thing. What we eat, how we consume, how we procreate, and how we treat each other are all connected to our relation to the natural world. The farther we drift from our connection with nature, the closer we get to GAME OVER. It’s a hope that the Clean Power Plan is one pivotal step we need to take in order to save us from ourselves.
How are we communicating the importance of global warming? How are Millennials getting informed that there is the scary possibility of life without breathable air, fresh drinking water, affordable food, or even jobs? Shouldn’t energy literacy be a part of every school’s curriculum? Energy is what drives everything. The hope here is that Millennials are the change makers: the first generation genuinely interested in responding to the emergency of fixing the world and its broken systems. They don’t care about cars, status, or ownership of stuff. What kind of messages are we communicating online – and in person – to inspire the generation that is left with the difficult task of repairing everything we’ve destroyed?
In the few hours I spent at the hearing, I heard a few old white guys opposed to the Clean Power Plan talk about shutting down plants, whine that its emission standards are “too much, too soon,” and dance around the real issue: LESS MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS. What they fail to grasp (or care about?) is that global warming is happening now. And we need to do something about it now.
We can prosper. The clean energy industry is called an “industry” for a reason. It exists not only to serve the greater good of the planet, humans, and animals, but to also create jobs and income. Oil, coal, and gas companies exist to make huge profits while ravaging the land and its species, causing death and destruction. Let’s transition to clean, safe, and renewable energy now. Right. Now.
Here’s the video of my testimony at the EPA Clean Power Plan Public Hearing (Denver, 7/29/14): http://youtu.be/6to9baly1sc.