For the past two weeks I have been campaigning with Greenpeace, the world’s largest international environmental organization that is both non-profit and nonpartisan. For this upcoming election, we have been working on Project Hot Seat, a global warming campaign centered in six congressional districts where there’s no telling who will win and where one key issue has the power to determine the election’s outcome. While Greenpeace campaigners are in Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, I’m in Florida targeting the 22nd District which includes prominent cities like Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. What makes Florida unique in this campaign is that it has experienced severe first-hand impacts of global warming with supercharging hurricanes, rising tides, and depleting coral reefs. Not to mention, eight of the past ten years have been the hottest on record.
Scientists have concluded that global warming is significantly attributed to human activity with the release of fossil fuels from coal-fired power plants, and not to mention, cars, trucks and SUVs. But there’s hope in change if our government acts now. The goal of Project Hot Seat is to put pressure on the congressional candidates to take a firm stance on global warming and by election, send a champion who will combat global warming in Congress. A firm stance includes signing onto legislation that entails a cap and trade system for industries to reduce their global warming pollution, a national renewable energy standard of at least 20% by 2020, and an increase in average fuel economy to 40 mpg.
So here I am in South Florida with nineteen other student activists. We’ve been on four different college campuses, and have collected over 2,000 signed petitions. It’s essential to interest and involve students because we’re young, energetic and passionate. History tells all of student activists fighting the world’s most important social and political battles. And it’s amazing to know that I’m part of that fervent battle giving countless others, who would otherwise be a silent bystander, a chance to contribute. Through class announcements, petitioning, tabling, phone-banking, and bird-dogging, we’ve made significant impacts in the community, gathering a large number of enthusiastic volunteers and campus leaders. And more.
Candidates Ron Klein (D) and Clay Shaw (R) have seen us at so many of their campaign events, and have gotten so many calls from their constituents expressing concern because of current climate changes, that they have requested to meet with Greenpeace staff to discuss solutions. And so we’re seeing changes! Just this past week Klein publicly agreed to sign onto the Waxman (D-CA) Safe Climate Act of 2006, a bill that serves to limiting global warming pollution. South Florida’s popular paper, The Sun-Sentinel, recently wrote an article about the importance of the environment in this congressional race, as neck-and-neck it is.
Ironic story in regard to religion and the student environmental movement: Yesterday two students that I work with went to a Bible study meeting as a friendly exchange for the Christian Club’s president agreement to come out to our International Day of Action this Saturday. After Cheryl and Tori came back to tell us about how outwardly nice and friendly the students in the club were and how they often referred to passages in the Bible. Briskly, one guy in the club said something in the lines of, “You know, your environmental work and our work to converting young Christians are a lot alike. We both have to make what we’re doing sound cool to get others to join.” I couldn’t help but laugh at such genuine truth.
Tomorrow, Greenpeace is hosting a huge event to celebrate International Day of Action with free refreshments, music and transportation. We’re gathering at the beach and expecting nearly 500 participants from all over Florida to form an aerial image illustrating the impact of global warming, and a photographer will capture the image overhead from a helicopter, which will then be released to media nationwide to give people a clearer idea of the “bigger picture.” I’m pumped!