Between the Lines: and social media activism

Almost every day at Middlebury College, I receive an influx of e-mails announcing the latest environmental initiatives and encouraging students to make their voices heard.
Last weekend, climate change activism took the global stage by storm with the 10/10/10 Global Work Party organized by The group inspired a groundbreaking 7,347 events across 188 countries. With such broad-based support, the case for change seems fairly clear: People are demanding a global transition towards a clean energy economy.
What remains less certain is the question of why so little has been accomplished in the political sphere here in the U.S., especially considering that change was a fundamental platform of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. When even the military is taking strides towards reducing its dependence on fossil fuels — the Navy and the Marines plan to generate 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, according to a recent article in The New York Times — the impetus for government action is incredibly high.
While the world’s impending energy crisis has a technical solution, the fundamental driver of change has to come from an altered mindset within the global community and, more importantly, from the world’s leaders. The Senate’s failure to pass an energy bill this past spring and Obama’s surprising lack of support for the bill’s sponsors reveal a startling disconnect between public opinion and the actions of our elected leaders.
If the Maldives’ President Nasheed has installed solar panels on his roof in a token of the commitment to eliminate his country’s reliance on foreign fossil fuels, one would hope President Obama could demonstrate the political audacity to assume leadership of the necessary energy policy overhaul.
Katie Siegner
Middlebury College

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