Environmentalism's Next Generation

Rebroadcast: originally broadcast March 11, 2013.

A new generation of “climate activists” are ready to raise Hell over the Keystone Pipeline and more. We hear from them.

Thousands of protestors gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, as well as act to limit carbon pollution from power plants and “move beyond” coal and natural gas, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP)

Thousands of protestors gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, as well as act to limit carbon pollution from power plants and “move beyond” coal and natural gas, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP)

We’ve been talking about environmental issues for years.  Decades.  And the climate just keeps changing.  Now a new generation is now staring at potentially catastrophic effects of bad energy decisions hitting in their own lifetimes.

Don’t call them “environmentalists,” they say.  That movement, that medicine, apparently wasn’t strong enough.  Call them “climate activists.”  Ready to get out and raise hell.  Over the Keystone pipeline.  For a big divestment push against Old Energy.  Over power and complacency that has failed.

This hour, On Point:  the new edgier, more urgent climate activism.

-Tom Ashbrook


Dorian Williams, anthropology major in her senior year at Brandeis University. Member of the Divest for Our Future campaign at Brandeis University. Arrested twice in Washington with PowerShift 2011 and once at Keystone demonstrations.

Maura Cowley, executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, which brings together 50 youth groups advocating for clean energy and slowing climate change. (@mauracowley)

Emily Williams, 4th-year undergraduate student in environmental studies at UC Santa Barbara. UCSB’s representative to the state-wide organization, the California Student Sustainability Coalition.

From Tom’s Reading List

Grist “I recently picked up a book that’s been sitting in my must-read pile for a long time: David Halberstam’s The Children, a remarkable account of the African-American students who began the momentous lunch-counter sit-ins in Nashville in February 1960 and went on to risk their lives as Freedom Riders and as movement leaders in Birmingham and Selma. Half a century on, it can be easy to forget that citizens of this country took such risks, and made such sacrifices, in order to gain basic human rights.”

The New York Times “I hope the president turns down the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Who wants the U.S. to facilitate the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada’s far north?) But I don’t think he will. So I hope that Bill McKibben and his coalition go crazy. I’m talking chain-themselves-to-the-White-House-fence-stop-traffic-at-the-Capitol kind of crazy, because I think if we all make enough noise about this, we might be able to trade a lousy Keystone pipeline for some really good systemic responses to climate change.”

National Geographic “Pipeline opponents garnered national attention last month, when some 40,000 protesters (according to organizers) assembled in Washington, D.C., to urge the White House to take a stand against fossil fuel emissions by vetoing the project. The event was billed as the largest rally ever held in the United States on climate change. Less noticed have been the bitter personal battles being waged in the trenches—literally, those being dug by TransCanada.”

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