Millennium Taking Action to Reduce CO2 Emissions by 1 Million Tons in 2009

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Millennium Planet is an innovative grassroots movement committed to "generating renewable energy for education". Their goal is to secure commitments to reduce CO2 emissions by 1 million metric tons by Earth Day 2009. Their unique approach links energy, the environment, and education. Participants are discovering ways to reduce energy consumption and earn carbon offset credits to support renewable energy projects. Rather than asking for donations, volunteers are able to actually generate revenue on their own to support educational enrichment - the key to our survival. The movement is driven by the culture, music and technology of the millennial generation - the most connected generation in the history of mankind.

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To quote an unnamed Native American: "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children". If in fact the earth was borrowed from us, it's being handed over in less than stellar condition.

But this is not about looking backward - Millennium Planet is a grassroots movement, and it's about taking action and moving forward. Conceived in cyberspace by a small but growing number of students, with support from some inspiring educators, it is taking on a life of its own.

The impetus for this movement comes from the most connected generation in the history of mankind. Millennium Planet is not a physical place, it represents an idea. "We just have ideas and hopes and dreams and we're connected through our culture, our music, and our social networks", to quote one of their founding members. The movement is about using this connectivity and sheer numbers to spread the word, to heighten awareness of the challenges, and to share ideas, links and tools on what individuals can do about them.

They are committed to "generating renewable energy for education." The innovative concept links Energy conservation, Environmental Protection and Educational enrichment. They describe knowledge and energy as our two most precious "renewables".

Millennium Planet is not about protest marches or sit-ins, or shutting down commerce. There is no corporate backing or advertising, and they don't own any products or factories. Theirs is not the Unabomber manifesto -- they totally embrace technology as a tool to bring the world closer together.

The Director of the UN Environment Program said this week: "Combating climate change is the stimulus package needed to power the planet out of its current malaise and set the stage for a 21st century green economy." While politicians talk about change, things are moving at a glacial pace and the polar ice cap is melting.

A recent survey showed that 86% of Americans and even oil industry executives agreed that America needs to transition to renewables. The question is how and when this transition will take place.

The Millennial generation is far too impatient to wait for governments to figure things out. They are determined to make a difference now. To quote Robert F. Kennedy: "Few will bend history, but each of us can work to change events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."

Clearly, education is the key, yet American students continue to lag behind other countries. In a study released last week, five Asian countries reported significantly higher test scores in math and science. And that could have ramifications for generations to come. Meanwhile, according to Education Week, states are decisively slashing budgets for school programs.

The idea behind Millennium Planet is to discover ways to conserve energy, save on energy costs, then divert those saved resources to support education. Education is the key to developing the next generation of scientists and leaders to create innovative solutions to address the challenges ahead. Failure is not an option.

The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by One Million Metric Tons in 2009 - equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road, based on EPA estimates. In the first few weeks alone, commitments to reduce emissions were running well over 20%.

The average American's carbon footprint is five times that of the rest of the world. It's little wonder that in some corners of the globe, American's are viewed as alien invaders extracting resources. Millennium Planet provides tools to enable individuals to measure their environmental impact along with action steps they can take.

The concept of calculating a carbon footprint is not new. The basis for many of the tools came directly from EPA sources. However, if the vast majority of the population does not utilize the information, it's just another government program for the archives. This movement is about communicating, connecting, competing and compelling people to action.

The site offers incentives to motivate individuals to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. It includes Global Rankings to recognize accomplishments. Users can earn Carbon Offset Certificates and Credits to support renewable energy projects. As more schools come online, plans for district and state competitions to earn scholarship money are already underway.

The site uses the universal language of culture, music and pictures to tell the story. A video contest provides a forum to spread the word while earning carbon offset credits. The idea emanated from a member and is a good example of the fluid and dynamic nature of the site - with all content created and produced by members. While virtually anyone can throw together an entertaining music video online, Millennium Planet seeks to deliver meaningful messages that actually inspire people into action.

Another member cited research showing that the videogames burn more energy when not in use. A promotion was developed to get gamers to power down and win unlimited free videogames. Without any corporate board meetings, the idea up and running in a matter of days.

It is widely known that compact fluorescent lights save money and reduce emissions, yet only a small fraction of the population are using them. New partners are continuing to come on board offering energy-saving products at reduced prices.

Millennium Planet does not accept donations; however, a recent idea suggested by a teacher sparked a program enabling schools and clubs to generate revenue by promoting energy-saving products. One administrator was quoted as saying: "This is more satisfying and less filling than cookies and pizza kits." Returns can be as high as 80%, far exceeding traditional fundraisers. And with today's technologies, fundraisers don't have to walk the streets or sit outside grocery stores.

Sociologists predict that the millennial generation will have a seismic impact on this planet. At 70 million and counting, they have the technology, the connectivity and the determination to change things like no generation before. In these times of global crisis, it is clear that they represent one ray of hope to lead us out of the darkness.


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Robin Oneder
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