By Jesse Jenkins, reporting for the Energy Collective and WattHead - Energy News and Commentary
[Update, 3/16/09: Mr. Ringo's keynote address and sick intro video (courtesy of Power Shift/Energy Action Coalition's amazing video team) now added at end of post]
I grabbed a few minutes amidst the buzz and activity of Power Shift 2009 with Jerome Ringo, the President of the Apollo Alliance. As 12,000 young people come together for the largest gathering of citizens on climate and clean energy solutions in U.S. history, Mr. Ringo discusses progress made, challenges ahead, and the unique and critical role young people play in securing a clean energy future.
Jesse Jenkins: Jerome, as President of the Apollo Alliance, you are a leading advocate of a new, clean energy economy. The Apollo Alliance has spent years incubating the vision of a future run on clean energy sources that once again provide good jobs for America. You must be pretty happy to hear President Obama move that effort to the center of his agenda with his Joint Address to Congress last week.
Jerome Ringo: The Apollo Alliance has been working for years to frame the issue of green jobs and how they can help both the economy and our environment. Luckily, we now have a president who gets it.
The green jobs programs and initiatives promoted by the Apollo Alliance are an answer to the nation’s economic issues. But it goes beyond that … to address the greatest environmental issue we’ve faced in a generation, global warming, as well as the national security issues we face, as we watch body bags coming back from where we’re fighting to defend oil interests on foreign soil.
Investment in green is a win-win-win-win for America and for our communities, and we are fortunate to have a president that gets that.
You are one of the keynote speakers later this evening at Power Shift 2009, where close to 12,000 young people will gather to hear you and other leaders speak. What do you see as the significance of an event like Power Shift 2009?
The Apollo Alliance is about building a coalition around clean energy. The most important part of any coalition that wants to change the status quo is how you prepare the next generation to deal with those issues.
Unfortunately, because of the practices of my generation, we are leaving these young people with one heck of a mess … global warming, the economy is floundering, and we’re being held over an oil barrel by foreign governments. We’ve got to prepare a generation to not only receive the problems my generation created, but to fix them.
With President Obama now pushing for many of the same things Apollo’s coalition has been calling for, new opportunities for significant progress are on the horizon. Of course, the real work is just beginning. What is the role of young people in advancing clean energy solutions, overcoming obstacles and seizing those opportunities in the coming year?
Unfortunately there’s a state of urgency due to the state of the economy and it’s seen that there may be a lack of resources to address these issues. That’s a challenge. So it’s going to take an effort to reactivate activism in this country.
What we can do as green leaders in the movement today, is to invest in the young leaders of this movement to prepare for the challenges ahead.
The election of Barack Obama sent a powerful signal about the power of the voice of young people in this country. Young people have successfully reactivated activism in this country and restored the power of young voices in this country. Whether they are speaking through organized events or through email, the power of young people in moving the presidency forward and bringing a new face to America can be replicated in moving the green movement forward and responding to the many economic and national security challenges we face today.
Thank you Jerome for speaking to me. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you at tonight’s Power Shift 2009 keynote address, and from the voices of the 12,000 young people who are gathered here to repower and reclaim their future.
Introducing Jerome Ringo:
Jerome Ringo speaking at Power Shift 2009 (keynote address):