I was wide awake until 3am last night watching President Obama take questions from students in Shanghai, China, after announcing over the weekend that the expectations for the United Nation's climate meeting in Copenhagen next month will be significantly scaled back.
Seeing a president who wants to be a part of the solution to the negative effects of harmful pollution and dirty energy address a crowd of young people should have been rewarding. Instead, I couldn't help but feel disappointed that he has yet to engage with the young Americans in the youth climate movement in the same way. Especially since we're here, rallying around these essential issues using the grassroots organizing skills he championed during the election, trying to underscore the "fierce urgency of now" he encouraged us to believe in.
Maybe if the president had engaged with us more deeply, he would understand that young people know we can't put politics before progress on climate and energy.
Sadly, President Obama isn't showing the leadership on the climate crisis that millions of young people expected from Candidate Obama. It's game time, but instead of making the winning basket, he's called for a delay of game.
We're not going to sit back and watch that happen.
More than 40,000 young people from our Energy Action Coalition member organizations and beyond have asked the president to meet with us, give a national address outlining his strategy and to attend Copenhagen in person. The actions are part of our "It's Game Time, Obama!" initiative, which launched Nov. 4 on the anniversary of the historic election we participated in zealously.
If the movement to create a clean and just energy future really was one of President Obama's beloved pick-up basketball games, we could say that we've reached the fourth quarter and we need our country's leader to make a Lebron James-style big play. If he puts on his No. 44 jersey and leads a full court press against those who stand in the way of climate and energy progress, we could realize the goals we established for ourselves when we turned out in record numbers last fall.
We recognize that the responsibility to win falls on the whole team's shoulders: on young people, on Congress and on local elected officials. We're going to do our part and relentlessly call, text, Tweet, update our Facebook and MySpace statuses, and march in the streets until we secure a commitment from our leaders that they recognize the fierce urgency of now and will act in the interests of our future. We believe strongly that our all-star president, who has shown such extraordinary leadership in the face of difficult circumstances in the past, can do so again. He's a game-changer, and we need his skills now to get it done.
President Obama is a winner. As his teammates, we're ready to prove that our commitment to change is renewable. We're wondering: Is his?
Follow Jessy Tolkan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jessytolkan