Cross-posted on The Huffington Post
Pat Buchanan faced off against Energy Action Coalition youth leader, Jessy Tolkan, on Hardball Monday, with a gentlemanly, albeit condescending, smile, which accompanied his insistence that global warming, while possibly real, is not as serious as she believed.
Ms. Tolkan, the Challenge Campaign Director for the Energy Action Coalition, a 'Youth United for Clean Energy" group, listened patiently while Buchanan went on to say that "global warming, if it happens, would not be "all that bad."
Ms. Tolkan's response: "Pat, with all due respect, I think you're living in the past."
This Hardball 'debate' was prompted by a session of Rep. Edward j. Markey's (D-MA) Select Committe on Energy Independence and Global Warming entitled: "Youth Leadership for Clean Energy and Healthy Climate." with testimony from several youth environmental groups (video), including Energy Action Coalition's co-Founder, Billy Parish, the youth leaders of Environmental Justice, Alaskan Youth, various student representatives and California's Public Interest Research Group. The committee members then moved to the West Lawn of the Capitol where they were greeted by ~6,000 young people who'd traveled to call for new energy legislation.
Later, on Hardball, Mr. Buchanan countered their enthusiasm by pointing out that the inaction vis-à-vis Kyoto implied a consensus lack of belief in the urgency of global warming and that Ms. Tolkan's 6,000 young people versus the 500,000 outside the Nixon White House protesting the Vietnam War, showed a lack of serious concern by her peers and by the world. He then referred to Al Gore's "little badge" (Nobel Peace Prize) and "awards" (Oscar) as something given while others do nothing (he may have something there on the 'others doing nothing' part).
Ms. Tolkan's response: "Pat's living in the past and I'm here to represent the future." She added: "It is my future."
Granted, 6,000 is a small number of protesters, especially when compared to the millions expected to be displaced by climate change in the future. But then, the environment has never been as emotionally charged an issue as war.
However, despite the relatively small number of protesters this week, it may be increasingly difficult to ignore the millions impacted by the many climate and energy warning signs of late. These include the reports on the increasing inability for the oceans to absorb C02 (carbon sinks), impending $100 oil, the underreported floods in Mexico, the wildfires in the West, the over forty percent of our country currently experiencing severe to extreme drought, the calls to arms by the world's religous leaders, and this report on how climate change threatens our national security.
So, while 6,000 youth voters may not compare to the half-million Pat Buchanan remembers descending upon the Nixon White House while he worked there, it could not have been, as Chris Matthews mentioned, an easy task for Ms. Tolkan and her colleagues to get that many of today's young people to drop what they were doing and come together in Washington for an environmental rally, and even Pat Buchanan had to acknowledge that.