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New Video: Green For All at Power Shift 09

Posted by Ada McMahon at Mar 26, 2009 12:06 PM |

Check out how much fun we had at Power Shift 09, the largest youth conference on climate change and green jobs, ever...

Oh yeah, in addition to the fun, we attended 3 days of intensive workshops and plenaries, rallied on Capitol Hill, and met with our Senators and Representatives.


Go Green!

Posted by Shirley Kinoshita at Mar 26, 2009 01:29 PM
Great to see our youth speak out and speak up for a clean and job-fulfilling world.

San Jose Raging Granny Shirley

Energy Justice for Everybody

Posted by Robert Murphy at Mar 27, 2009 09:05 AM

In America and in the global economy, there are huge disparities in medical care, housing, education, and in other fields. Some people enjoy all sorts of benefits and privileges while others live like street people in Mumbai.... With this reality in mind, think about energy issues and social justice. New thinking is requested.

There are three tiers in the energy system. At the highest level, a small minority enjoys an enormous per capita consumption of energy. These are the folks with the SUVs and the big air conditioned houses and the heated swimming pools. You'll find the wealthy on all of the inhabited continents although, yes, they are most often found in a few places. The super-rich are scarce in Afghanistan.

At the second level in the energy discussion, you'll find lots of people - including many Americans - who struggle to pay for the basics of transportation and home heating. At the bottom of the energy pyramid, you'll find families that are desperate. They need more energy, not less, in order to survive. Think about homeless people and many of the families that live in urban slums and in rural shanty towns.
The poor will burn anything that they can get - coal and cow dung, rainforests and toxic wastes, etc. - in order to stay
warm and dry. In America, this may seem like a "nuisance" but there are millions of people in the developing nations
who will do almost anything in order to move out of poverty.
When they burn dirty fuels, they contribute to a long list of environmental problems, including global warming.

What's needed in order to secure "energy justice"?

Move human rights concerns to the top of the energy agenda. Recognize that all people, in all places, need adequate supplies of energy that are safe, affordable, and sustainable.
Not too much energy, but, please, not too little.

In America, an "energy justice" strategy starts with fuel assistance and adequate housing for the people who need assistance today. Some Americans need a hot meal and a blanket in order to survive during the next twenty-four hours. The very young and the very old suffer the most because of extreme cold and extreme summer heat. Farm workers and other low-income workers have special concerns.

Weatherization? It can be helpful, although it doesn't respond to immediate energy needs. The "payback" on some weatherization projects is measured in years. If you're struggling to pay last month's fuel bills, weatherization isn't your immediate concern. If you rent an apartment or a trailer, why should you pay extra to help your landlord improve his property? If the landlord makes changes - if he fixes the heating system, for example - he may raise your rent. Maybe you'll move to another apartment. In cities, especially, the poor move and move again.

New technology? Again, it's nice. However, it may be years, even decades, before the benefits trickle down to the poor. The poor need energy assistance now, not five years from now. Energy use is essential for their survival.

Green jobs? In the Northeast, where the winters are very hard, about half of the people who receive fuel assistance are elderly or people with major disabilities and small incomes. No, it's not likely that these folks will soon be working at "green jobs." And, no, they won't benefit from an adjustment in payroll taxes. "Green jobs" will help some people but they won't help most of the people who are suffering in the existing energy economy.

Public transportation? It's very important. Keep in mind that public transportation is often "poor peoples transportation." The very young and the very old, people with disabilities, and low-income workers are often the people who are most dependent on public transportation. The wealthy folks have more choices in their energy use.
(In rural and suburban areas, public transportation is often inadequate. People depend on automobiles and they'll do anything to keep their junkers on the road. If you lack easy access to an automobile in the suburbs, you're socially isolated and you'll have a hard time finding a job.)

"Energy justice" requires some new thinking. To secure "energy justice," it's necessary to move human rights to the top of the energy agenda. It's necessary to look at the poverty problem - at home and in the global economy - and it's necessary to look at the disparities in energy use.

We need some new thinking about energy issues and social justice. Well, maybe next year. Right now, the energy conversation is dominated by comfortable people who believe that a few solar panels, with some weatherization and some "green jobs," will solve the global warming problem and conquer the economic recession. That's nice, but it's not enough, folks. What's needed is real "energy justice."

Be the change you want to see...

Posted by Alison Malisa at Mar 28, 2009 02:04 AM
One group, no matter how awesome, is never enough. But the frustration of that knowledge cannot keep us from doing absolutely everything we can to be the change we want to see in the world. Now is always the time to understand where we will focus our energies for the power shift we need. Power to the people? The people who are living, as well as they know how, in harmony with nature.
Its time to make some noise, and it is time to live in equanimity with ourselves and with nature.

So moved!

Posted by jana carter at Mar 27, 2009 12:32 PM
God I am so moved by you guys right now. You rock. It's a new day.

Both-And thinking and a new kind of Growth

Posted by David Bowen at Mar 29, 2009 06:12 AM
Thrilled by the videos and clips of the meetings and young speakers.

Part of our Green movement has to be thinking we can do BOTH one thing AND another; both fix the economy and build renewable energy; both find work for Americans and find work for brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia; both develop wind power and hydroelectric or wave or tidal power.

Another part has to be developing and using a new idea to replace "Growth". We need to measure the health of an economy by: how well it feeds, houses, educates and cares for its people; how well it produces things other people want to buy, and how well it acts in buying goods and services from others; how sustainable it is (carbon footprint, or resource-footprint).

The health of a company must also be measured in these terms; a company that claims it can grow 15 to 20% per year forever is wrong, insane and dangerous (it would soon have to encompass the whole world). A company that is sustainable, does well by all its stakeholders, and acts responsibly in the world should be the goal.