Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mason Goes to Power Shift!

This weekend over 60 people from Mason will be heading into D.C. for Power Shift 2009, the largest conference on global warming ever assembled in the United States and possibly the largest in the world. Following the success of Power Shift 2007, the first ever national youth conference on global warming that occurred at the University of Maryland, Power Shift 2009 will bring together people from every state and Canadian province, Puerto Rico, and other countries from around the world. Specifically, over 10,000 young people will gather on Friday at the D.C. Convention Center with the intention of creating the impetus for bold and decisive solutions to the climate crisis.

People across the globe are already feeling the effects of the climate crisis including in the United States. Nationally these effects include the massive drought in the southeast, the raging forest fires in the west, and the thawing permafrost in Alaska. The causes are myriad; the destruction of the Amazon rainforests for the production of animal feed, over consumption of electricity in the U.S. and other developed countries, and excessive petroleum use for vehicles around the world are all examples.

According to Lauren Peery, first-year Global and Environmental Change student, “Power Shift represents a chance for me to actually do something truly meaningful. I already know that our country needs to be a leader when it comes to global warming, after this weekend I hope to be able to take that knowledge and turn it into action.”

Through both issue and skills based workshops, participants will gain the knowledge and proficiency they need to effectively tackle one of the biggest threats our society has ever faced. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the climate crisis is second only to the possibility of global nuclear war in terms of threatening humanity. The event will feature speakers such as Van Jones and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as musical guests Santogold and The Roots. More importantly, Power Shift will inspire over 10,000 young people to rise up and demand a just transition to a clean energy future.

Power Shift will culminate on Monday with two opportunities to take action. The first is a massive lobby day where thousands of people will confront their elected officials and insist that they enact legislation that will truly solve the climate crisis. The second opportunity is the Capital Coal Action which will be the largest civil disobedience in defiance of global warming ever organized. Environmental leaders such as Bill McKibben, Wendell Barry, and the Dean of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Gus Speth, will stand alongside young people that are willing to risk arrest to make a symbolic statement to our elected officials: act immediately to reduce emissions, create jobs and re-engage globally to tackle the climate and economic crises.

“This is our opportunity to show the world that America is ready to be a leader in the fight against global warming,” said Senior Accounting major Bob McMurtry. “I want to be able to look back and tell my grandkids that I was there; I was one of the people that took a stand and made sure that our planet had a second chance.”

The organizers of Power Shift claim that history will likely show Power Shift 2009 as the one event that truly turned the tide against the climate crisis; if they are correct you don’t want to miss your opportunity to be part of this historic occurrence.

For more information and to register go to