Take action on the environment | AspenTimes.com

Take action on the environment

Dear Editor:

Calling all greenies, foodies, small-business owners, activists, hippies, yuppies and retirees:

I want to share a recent experience of mine. A few weeks ago, I had the immense privilege to attend the 3rd Powershift Conference in Washington, D.C. Powershift is a gathering of young people, primarily college students, from across the country. These people discuss environmental problems across the board: economic issues, the agricultural industry, lobbying and activism movements, you name it. There are also intensive leadership and communication workshops. It started in 2007, grew in 2009, and continues to increase in size and motivation. This year, it ended with several rallies on April 18, including a protest at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a march on the Capitol.

Over 10,000 people registered and attended each day from April 14-17.

More than 5,000 participated in the rallies and lobbying on April 18.

I go to school at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, a long way from the incredible town of Aspen. St. Lawrence, in turn, is a long way from Washington, D.C. A grant from the Mellon Foundation allowed 54 St. Lawrence students to attend Powershift 2011.

The above paragraphs contain a lot of quantitative facts. I’m sharing them to show how the environmental movement in this country is growing. Aspen is pretty involved, whether part-time residents take their kids to A.C.E.S. or locals participate in Bike-to-Work Day or 350 photographs.

That is why we need to do more. As a community highly involved in changing the way American culture treats the environment, we need to do more than lead by example. We need to focus more on outreach and on really getting through to the kids in the Aspen School District. Many students don’t become involved at our schools because they don’t see the problems; they love nature, skiing, hiking … and don’t have any evidence of how lucky we are. I know, because I was one of those students.

The consequences of dirty energy affect every demographic (hence my seemingly silly introductory line). Those consequences touch the economy, public health, taxes, security, vacations, and international relations. We need to pay better attention.

Extracting oil shale is hugely damaging to local ecosystems. Dams and large-scale hydropower, though clean in terms of carbon emissions, have serious negative impacts on their immediate ecosystems and the watershed. Voting is not enough anymore. We need to increase the forums about these issues, and actually become proactive as a community. We need a powershift. (Just a thought … we have a lot of unused, rotting wood due to beetle-kill. Biomass, anyone? It is in-cycle carbon, unlike coal and other fossil fuels.)

Please reflect on the current state of the environment. No one likes a dirty home. Check out 350.org or grist.org. Look at the blogs on wearepowershift.org. Google “ocean gyres.”

Ten-thousand students from around the country want to make a difference. Help us.

Annalise Grueter

St. Lawrence University, 2012

AHS, 2008

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