Letter from the Executive Director
First, the ugly news: You’ve probably watched or read about the oil disaster that is unfurling along the Gulf Coast. Thousands of barrels of crude oil are steadily gushing into the Gulf every day, threatening the lives, health, economy, and environment of an entire region. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a stark reminder of the true cost of America’s oil dependence. The federal government’s response to this crisis must start with containing the spill and cleaning up the gulf, but it also needs to implement comprehensive climate and energy policies that address U.S. oil addiction. The climate and energy bill must ensure disasters like this never happen again, by creating a clean, safe energy economy for America.
Now the bad news: The media has fallen hard for the political game between Democrats and Republicans recently regarding the climate and energy bill; Is Republican Senator Graham in or out as a co-sponsor of the bill developed by Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham? Will climate and energy legislation include more off-shore drilling? Rather than continue to get bogged down in politics, it is time to muster the courage to do whatever is necessary to put a price on carbon. We were glad to see that Senators Kerry and Lieberman finally introduced the American Power Act earlier this week. The bill would establish, for the first time, effective national limits on global warming pollution. Those limits would get tighter every year and would drive investments in clean energy that create jobs and begin to end our dangerous addiction to oil.
And finally the good news: The Energy Information Administration released its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) a few weeks ago with a shocking prediction for near-term carbon dioxide emissions: “Projected carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels fall by 6.0 percent in 2009 because of the weak economic conditions and declines in the consumption of most fossil fuels (U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Growth Chart). Coal leads the drop in 2009 CO2 emissions, falling by nearly 10 percent because of fuel switching from coal to natural gas in the electric power sector. The projected recovery in the economy contributes to an expected 0.9-percent increase in CO2 emissions in 2010.”
The combination of a weak economy, low natural gas prices, state renewable energy standards, and a clean-energy-friendly stimulus results in significant reduction of CO2 emissions; these preliminary calculations suggest that the 2020 target of 17% below 2005 will be halfway met at the end of 2009!
Yes, we are making progress.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
YEA! MN End of the Year Retreat
YEA! MN student steering committee members are hard at work planning for an end of the year retreat on June 16th and 17th. Student leaders will facilitate reflection on successes and challenges of the 2009-2010 school year and plan strategically for the coming fall. Students will also participate in the hiring process for a new YEA! MN Coordinator to begin in June. Interested applicants can contact the Will Steger Foundation for more information. Thanks to all of our partners and supporters for another successful year of engaged high school student leadership on climate change solutions!
Midwest Youth Leadership Gathers for Strategic Regional Collaboration
Abby Fenton, WSF Youth Programs Director, will join key Midwest student organizers and youth climate staff for a strategy meeting on May 17th at the University of Chicago. The gathering will focus on strategic planning to build a more sustainable Midwest coalition of youth climate leadership, and includes student leaders from the several statewide networks including Michigan and Ohio, and staff from the Sierra Student Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, RE-AMP, and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group. Long-range goals for the coalition include regional campaign work in support of state and federal climate legislation, and regional organizing around shared interests including coal, transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental justice.
Looking for a good summer read? Check out Dr. Naomi Oreskes’ forthcoming book, due out May 25, 2010, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. We are pleased to have Dr. Oreskes as our keynote speaker at this year’s Summer Institute for Climate Change Education. REGISTER TODAY!
What the critics have to say:
“As the science of global warming has grown more certain over the last two decades, the attack on that science has grown more shrill; this volume helps explain that paradox, and not only for climate change. A fascinating account of a very thorny problem.”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have demonstrated what many of us have long suspected: that the ‘debate’ over the climate crisis–and many other environmental issues–was manufactured by the same people who brought you ‘safe’ cigarettes. Anyone concerned about the state of democracy in America should read this book.”—Former Vice President Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth
REGISTER TODAY for our Summer Institute for Climate Change Education!
Please join us Thursday August 12, from 8:30-4:30 at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Center for a chance to look back on our last five years of climate change education outreach and curriculum development and take time to “Go Back to the Basics.” This year’s Institute will provide educators with an understanding of why misinformation surrounding the issue of climate change persists and the tools to respond to those in doubt, by getting back to the basics of climate science and climate change education methods. We are excited to welcome Dr. Naomi Oreskes, from the University of San Diego renowned historian of climate science, and author of upcoming book Merchants of Doubt, as well as local climatologist Dr. Mark Seeley. Dr. Seeley serves as extension climatologist/meteorologist, coordinating weather and climate educational programs with the National Weather Service, the Minnesota State Climatology Office, and various state agencies.
[important color=green title=FREE Public Forum]Free Public Forum with Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Wed. August 11th, 6 pm, Humphrey Institute, Cowles Auditorium[/important]
[important color=blue title=Volunteer Spotlight]Thank you Mindy Ahler Olmstead for your generous contribution to YEA! MN and the Will Steger Foundation. Mindy has been the coordinator of YEA! MN from Dec. 2009 to June 2010 which is co-sponsored by WSF and Alliance for Sustainability. Mindy helped organize steering committees, coordinated events with our partners and was critical to maintaining this valuable youth program. In addition to her YEA! MN duties Mindy has been volunteering every week in the WSF office since November for a total of 54 hours. Thank you Mindy for your generous contribution![/important]
In the News
Conversations: Are We Listening?
Will is a guest for an hour-long radio show of the series, “Conversations: Are We Listening?” Conversations, is a radio show hosted by Michael Stone, bringing you leading edge thinkers, authors and activists in the areas of Environmental Restoration, Social Justice, Evolutionary Cosmology and Spiritual fulfillment.
Will Steger presented on the South Dakota State University campus. Joining Steger at this program on global warming impacts is SDSU professor W. Carter Johnson nationally known in his own right for his work in wetlands research and climate change. ‘Alarming’
Rapid City Journal
Steger spoke about his polar explorations and his views about global warming and climate change to an audience of about 200 people last night at the Surbeck Center of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
Ask your Senators to Finish What They Started!
It’s time to get the job done on getting America cleaner and safer energy choices. The Gulf Coast oil spill is leaking 200,000 gallons of oil a day, and threatening more than 400 species of fish, birds and wildlife. The hidden costs of our oil dependency on America’s wildlife and wild places are no longer invisible. Take Action! National Wildlife Federation’s Action Center has a convenient method for you to email your Senator.
You can also join our partners at 1Sky for the Dirty Energy Hunt, an effort to identify local sources of fossil fuel pollution and make them visible to the public and elected officials through photo opps at the dirty energy sites, blog posts, social media and letters to the editor. Visit to locate a local source and join the Hunt today!
Photo of the Month
Jim Brandenburg, “White Wolf Leaping”
The International League of Conservation Photographers was recruited to nominate nature photographs that the member photographers considered to be “the best,” in whatever way they chose to define it. We thought we’d honor a special place, Ellesmere Island where we took an expedition in 2008, and Minnesota’s premier photographer, Jim Brandenburg with our Photo of the Month.(View the photo on Flickr)