Jargon Therapy: Intent of Action

People can talk themselves silly about taking action against global warming. Is this type of “action” ever a waste of time?

Action was a buzzword this weekend when college-aged greenies flooded into Missoula for some hardcore grassroots training. The first Rocky Mountain Power Shift conference was held at the University of Montana with the goal of advancing youth discussion on climate change.

The first Power Shift gatherings attracted 6,000 young people to Washington D.C. to discuss their role in a warming world. Since then, dozens of conferences have followed bringing together eco-minded students for weekends of “training, action and inspiration.”

While participating in the Power Shift at UM, I observed the training and inspiration aspects of these events, but the action portion seemed lacking. Sure, there was a march on Sunday when an organization rallied conference participants to walk to Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Dennis Rehberg Missoula offices. The Blue Skies Campaign arranged this event because they want to “protest coal as a contributor to climate change and its transport by train as a source of toxic dust, diesel emissions and noise pollution,” according to the local newspaper.

But, amigos, it was Sunday. No one was in those offices to listen to your soulful chatting.

Perhaps education is key to effective action. This is something the conference did very well. Over the weekend there were 42 information sessions, 10 keynote speakers and eight hours of grassroot-organization workshops.

The room was packed for a session titled “False Solutions to Climate Change: Biomass Incineration, Biofuels, Biochar, Hydro, Geothermal and Other Bad Ideas.” These topics hit tender spots for Missoulians and other Montanans. Session speaker, Mike Ewall from the Energy Justice Network, kept attempting to move forward in his lecture, yet dozens of raised hands kept him answering questions until well after the allotted time. Now this is community interest and engagement.

Power Shift conferences educate people about our world’s plight. This is where a change begins, in our minds. Not parading to empty offices with signs and face masks to protest the coal that cooks our food and warms our homes.