Thursday, July 23, 2009

What George Will Doesn't See

Well, first of all, the answer is probably a lot of things, more than could possibly be discussed here. But I needed to write something in response to his op-ed piece in the Washington Post today.

The noted climate denier and Post op-ed writer wrote about what he sees as the increasing skepticism around climate change and the lack of youth activism.

He writes,

"When New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called upon "young Americans" to "get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon," another columnist, Mark Steyn, responded: "If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade."

Which could explain why the Mall does not reverberate with youthful clamors about carbon. And why, regarding climate change, the U.S. government, rushing to impose unilateral cap-and-trade burdens on the sagging U.S. economy, looks increasingly like someone who bought a closetful of platform shoes and bell-bottom slacks just as disco was dying."

As someone right in the middle of the age bracket provided by Will and a "young American," I can strongly say that there is a lot about youth that George does not seem to know.

First of all, today's youth is educated. More young people are attending college today than in the generations of our parents and grandparents. And these young people understand facts. Not everyone will be a science whiz, but we are not that easily duped by climate misinformation. We grew up reading about the ozone layer in Scholastic magazine and hearing about the environment on Nick News. Since we were toddlers or elementary school children, the Clean Air Act has been in place. We learned about pollution in our science classes back in elementary school. Now that we are older, we study the history behind the environment, the workings of the government, the principles of economics, and the dynamics of foreign countries. Do not underestimate us.

Moreover, our generation lives in the aftermath of the downfall of Big Tobacco. One of the most powerful lobbies had been brought to its knees during our lives so far. Bad science and corporate misinformation was at the heart of Big Tobacco's success for a while, but the public interest won in the end. We environmental activists need to study the success of the fight against Big Tobacco because there is a lot to learn and to bring to the table in reforming agriculture and energy.

Lastly, Mr. Will, today's youth does care. Maybe some of them don't know the steps to take, but when directed, they will gladly help. We have our outdoor enthusiasts, our global humanitarians, and our general do-gooders. They fill our universities today, and they fill conferences and events all the time to learn more about this issue. 10,000 of them attended Power Shift this past February. That's right, Mr. Will, 10,000 of us right here in Washington.

We may not be marching on Washington every day, but that is because we bring our activism to our own communities---spreading the word to our families, our friends, our classmates, our colleagues, our professors. Or maybe we are working for firms, NGOs, or nonprofits that are seeking to make a difference. You might not see us (Myopia is a sad side effect of age), but do not doubt for one moment that we are there.

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