Thousands of College Students Converge on Washington, D.C. to Lobby Against Climate Change
This weekend, thousands of college students converged on Washington, D.C. for Power Shift 2007. It was the first national youth summit to help solve the climate crisis, and they were hot on the trail to help members of government see the light about global warming; encouraging them to take action now before it’s too late.
And that meant engaging in some good old-fashioned lobbying. Sitting in meetings with staffers from the Senate and House Representatives of their home district, and letting them know that they consider a vote against climate change to be a vote in their favor.
Of course, the legions of professional lobbyists swarming D.C. on a daily basis often have access to funds, friends, and assorted connections on a scale these kids can only dream about. But what these youths brought to the table was simply themselves, en masse.
So why’s that better than a large bankroll and the right phone numbers? Well, because in the long term it’s simply impossible for elected officials to ignore the people who elect them. Which is not to say that there aren’t those who think they can pull it off, but when a large and growing people consistently voices their displeasure over time, and votes based on that displeasure, change will come.
Unfortunately we’re just not at the point where most Americans are standing in the streets demanding action on the climate change issue like these kids are. But I have no doubt that it will come.
Why? Well, let’s face the reality of human nature; which is that in large measure people respect wisdom, but obey pain. Currently, we’re caught in the phase somewhere between respecting the wisdom of stopping climate change, and obeying the pain like we saw on television during Katrina that makes us stand up and take action.
I guess the question is how we can get more Americans to respect the wisdom of reducing our emissions and making better choices rather than waiting for more of the pain that will force the issue.