“The world is running out of oil, consumerism is polluting our world with garbage and the western lifestyle is unsustainable.

“What is your career going to do about it?”

If this challenge isn’t an environmentalist’s dream of influencing the minds of young people, I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately, it isn’t a one-time-only challenge – it’s in almost every state and is spreading in colleges and universities of every size across the country.

The challenge was thrust at an audience of junior college students by three of their peers, who had organized a Green Energy Forum at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif. – across the bay from San Francisco.

That location alone should give you a hint of the mental state of the people involved in the event. They’re green to the bone; I know the types.

The campus hosted a day-long Focus the Nation Clean Energy Forum, one of a variety events. It was part of a three-week national effort by a group calling itself Focus the Nation and involved 22 events in 18 states at 19 colleges and universities of all sizes and affiliations among them Penn State, Drexel University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Hawaii Manoa, Loyola Marymount Los Angeles, University of Utah, Northern Maine Community College and, as I mentioned, Diablo Valley College.

The objective of the national, nonprofit group, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is to “empower a generation to power a nation.”

They aim at 18-28 year olds, training them in different green energy areas to be “agents of change” to spread the message that “building a clean energy economy presents an opportunity to redefine American prosperity and U.S. leadership at the local and international level.”

Judging by their description of their projects, they’re a training ground for community organizers and national activists aimed at stirring up green enthusiasm among all ages and economic levels, from rural, poor populations, urban to suburban to elected officials.

It’s too bad they only present one side of issues. Generally that’s considered brainwashing. If these kids are so smart, why can’t they see that?

The Contra Costa Sun, a local weekly newspaper, reported on one of the panels held that day, most likely because it drew two local politicians: Gayle McLaughlin, mayor of Richmond, Calif., – an East Bay city troubled by fiscal and typical urban problems – and California state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier.

Three DVC students organized the forum and made a major effort to get the politicians. Fabiola Ramirez, Keith Montes and Carla Bernal went to DeSaulnier’s office to encourage his participation. He told the newspaper it was their enthusiasm that convinced him to be there.

He said, “It’s important for young people to understand how our future energy sources are going to be different and predicted that fuel cell vehicles and better electric cars would be the earliest change.”

He boasted about his recent vote to require energy providers to generate 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

His rationale is that we import too much oil and use too much energy. He bragged about California’s air quality standards that are stricter than federal guidelines, state requirements for hybrid cars and a law that requires changes in regional land use and development to eliminate sprawl.

Ah, the hated “sprawl.” I didn’t see anything in the reportage of the event that indicated there was any discussion of private property rights or the economic hit that businesses and industry will face because of those touted stricter rules, to say nothing of the increase in consumer prices. But then, why confuse the issue with logic and facts?

According to The Sun, Mayor McLaughlin was asked what she’s done for clean energy while in office. She boasted of growing per capita solar installations in her city – no mention of stimulus or incentive money that might have been involved.

She also said they have goals for urban gardens, a public health requirement for new project approvals and she says: “We have to put state-of-the-art controls on Chevron to get them to do what is required.”

DeSaulnier doesn’t care for cap and trade – he prefers “regulatory enforcement.”

McLaughlin said she’s “OK with the cap part, but the trade part is a right to pollute.” She added, “We need to regulate (corporations) in a very urgent way.”

And talk about regulating, DeSaulnier jumped in with both feet when the questions was raised as to what we’re going to do about accusations that the U.S. is the world’s worst polluter.

He quickly asked a question: “Why is the Navy so big?

Then answered it: “To protect ships going to oil resources.”

If you ever wondered why California is in fiscal trouble, just consider these two politicians who represent the majority in local and state legislatures. California: the land of fruits and nuts? Naaaw.

He went on to talk about the difficulty of getting legislation passed or, on upcoming ballots, saying, “We’re a little in limbo,” referring to state water issues and tax initiatives Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown wants to get on the ballot in June.

It really is such a problem to deal with the state’s two-thirds majority rule requirement, but the Dems aren’t giving up attempts to get it changed.

Focus the Nation claims to have reached more than 300,000 youth and aims for more.

It’s too bad they only present one side of issues. Generally that’s considered brainwashing. If these kids are so smart, why can’t they see that?

From the website: “We are a small staff in Portland, Ore., with rock star volunteers and partners all over the country (and the world now! We even have friends in China.).”

Oh goody.

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