Massachusetts College Students Sleep-Out For Their Future.

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Guest post from Dan Abrams, the Boston & New Media Coordinator for the Leadership Campaign and a student at Northeastern University in Boston. You can see what The Leadership Campaign is up to and learn how to get involved at: www.theleadershipcampaign.org and our blog at: www.theleadershipcampaign.wordpress.com

Today’s college students are shockingly very busy.  We have Facebook messages to write and photos from last night’s party to upload, tabloid blogs to read, and mindless thoughts to tweet.  It’s crucial to read textsfromlastnight.com every morning, in case one of our friends quotes it – and we have not read it yet! (how terrible!) And if that’s not enough, we have to go to the occasional class, study and probably eat.  It’s only logical then that we push out silly hobbies like world news and global issues.  Who is the Secretary General of the United Nations? I have no idea! But have you seen this hilarious video on Youtube where babies dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”?

While this is a generally accepted view of American college students, a strong opposition crusade is growing back here in Massachusetts.  The Commonwealth is historic for starting movements from The American Revolution to gay marriage and universal healthcare.  Anti-apathy will be no different.  My name is Dan Abrams and I am three things: a student at Northeastern University, Boston & New Media Coordinator for The Leadership Campaign and most importantly, a climate warrior.

The Leadership Campaign (The LC) is a network of students and allies standing up for the most pressing issue facing humanity today: Global Climate Disruption.  “Global Warming” “Climate Change””¦call it what you will but there is no denying the severity of the issue.  We at The LC believe that our elected leadership in government is lacking the very characteristic that defines their job description: the ability to lead.  We have yet to see accurate, serious and legitimate solutions to global climate disruption in any level of government. And, unfortunately, we do not have time for “environmental politics as usual.”

For most of us, we do not get the choice of what powers our homes.  Every day as people live, eat, and sleep in their homes, they are involuntarily harming the environment by pouring carbon in the atmosphere by the ton.  Because our lack of choice leaves us subject to the only option: fossil fuels.  And if we do get choices, the choice is not what power, but whose power, and we overwhelmingly choose the cheapest.  We are forced into this conundrum and we have no easy way to get out.

So, students from across the state are doing something mostly unheard of: taking responsibility for our actions and creating change.

Hundreds of students and community members are mobilizing from as far as Amherst College to Harvard University and are refusing to sleep in our homes that are powered by dirty electricity, until the government has a plan in place to power them by clean electricity.  We define “clean” electricity as any source of power that does not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  We are calling on Governor Patrick to introduce, and his legislature to pass, a bill that will repower Massachusetts with 100% clean electricity in ten years.  We are giving our state until December 7th (first day of international climate negotiations in Copenhagen) to pass this bill.

Every day Monday- Saturday we sleep out on sites at over 25 campuses and community sites throughout the state.  On Sunday’s participants travel to The Boston Common to rally and sleep out. We wake up Monday mornings and lobby the state legislature with our bill that will repower the state with 100% clean electricity in ten years.  

We’ve had an interesting campaign so far, chock-filled with spontaneous public dancing and (because it is illegal to be on the Common after 11PM) 3AM wake-up calls by the Boston Police Department. This week our campaign gets even sweeter:  Dr. James Hansen, leading climate scientist at NASA and author of the paper that first publicized 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide as the maximum density of carbon that can be in our atmosphere to keep the world as we know it.   He will be rallying with us on the Common at 3:50PM, sleeping-out with us, and then lobbying and holding a press conference the following Monday morning.  And the week after that, Bill McKibben, prominent environmentalist and founder of 350.org and the International Day of Climate Action, will be leading a march from a climate conference at MIT to the Boston Common with scores of community members and will be spending the night with us as well.

New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman said this summer, “ Attention all young Americans: your climate future is being decided right now in the cloakrooms of the Capitol, where the coal lobby holds huge sway. You want to make a difference? Then get out of Facebook and into somebody’s face. ” Well, Mr. Friedman, my generation here seems to be getting off Facebook and we are heading outside. Each day more and more students and community members join our fight. We believe that science needs to once again dictate public policy and not backdoor dealings.  Now is the time to solve global climate disruption.  We cannot afford to wait any longer for serious solutions before consequences are irreversible. It is about time that we hold our politicians accountable for creating the necessary legislation to get us out of this mess.  

And, I know for certain that I do not want to have to look in my kids’ eyes and tell them, “I’m sorry. I should have tried harder.”

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Comments

  1. This is great. It makes em wish I was back in school in Boston to participate. I guess their point is since they live in dorms they can’t have a say on how the electricity gets to them, but homes can buy energy credits from Renewable Choice and the power returned to the grid will be from wind. It’s not a long term solution. Dan Abrams has the long view!

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