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How to Mobilize the Millennials?

With the recent shelving of the Kerry-Lieberman bill, cap-and-trade is looking more and more like a long shot, but this generation of “young people” (Generation Y, Millennials, whatever) knows that climate change and energy are the challenges of our times. The key is creating the political atmosphere that allows poll-enslaved politicians to do their thing. That means a movement. So how do we go about it? Clearly it’s going to take more than hitting “like” on Facebook.

We are currently writing a report for the Environmental Defense Fund that looks at this very question and want to hear from you, the GOOD community. We will take the best ideas we get and incorporate them into the report. The idea is to identify where resources are needed and then to find those resources.

So what is your opinion on what’s working and what’s not in the movement to address climate change? In particular what can be done to get younger people like yourself more active and feisty? Where should resources be invested? What is the right narrative: respect for life? A new economy? Is climate change even the right frame? What about something like “End Oil” or “Affordable Clean Energy” instead—i.e. something more bite-size and more clear? What are the right tactics: civil disobedience? Social networks? Who is the enemy—and does there need to be an enemy?

Hearkening back to student-led initiatives of yesteryear, we believe that today's young people can and will do more to combat the threat of a warming world. In the 1980s, students across America led divestment initiatives that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, a nation that was transformed from an international pariah to the host of the World Cup in fewer than three decades. A generation before that, young people throughout the United States championed causes like civil rights and women's rights, paving the way for a more equitable and just society.

What is this generation going to do and how are they going to do it?

E-mail us, edward (at) canary-project (dot) org and ofayanju (at) edf (dot) org, and let us know how you want to take the lead. If you've got ideas, now is your chance to be heard.

In addition to incorporating these ideas into our report, we will post the best responses here on the GOOD blog.

Edward Morris is a principal at Lynx Insights and Investigations, an investigations and consulting company that specializes in work for non-profits, lawyers and investors. He is also the Executive Director of The Canary Project, which produces visual media, events, and artwork that build public understanding of human-induced climate change and energize commitment to solutions.

Oluseyi Fayanju is a Fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund. He is a contributor to Restoration and Resilience, an EDF blog that examines the links between environmental remediation and economic recovery on the Gulf Coast.

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