Although Eban Goodstein has been educating people about the global-warming threat for a decade, he only recently took major action to help solve the problem. In 2006 he heard James E. Hansen, a leading climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, say that global warming could prove catastrophic sooner than anticipated and that the world needed practical solutions immediately.

Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis and Clark College, temporarily left teaching to form the National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions. Over the past two years the Teach-In has helped coordinate 2,500 events with 1.25 million participants, most of them students, to share ideas about potential fixes.

On February 5 Goodstein collaborated with the office of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stage a Capitol Hill teach-in. He brought together 250,000 students and community members across 25 campuses nationwide to interact with 15 members of Congress via videoconferences. The discussions were so fruitful that Goodstein is organizing a larger session, scheduled for this autumn, to engage up to 250 policy makers.

“Young people are responsible for developing solutions to save our planet,” Goodstein says. Engaging with lawmakers gives students a real voice, he adds, allowing them to learn about actual bills circulating in Congress, to brainstorm new ideas, and to share their innovative energy and business plans for preserving the earth.