My Thoughts Following the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Bob_plenty_jpegTeams & Friends,

Things are different here in my third year at the Clinton Global Initiative. 

There has been a major emphasis shift toward Climate & Energy.  It’s gone from a smaller subject area to by far the largest.  Instead of a token plenary, it’s all or part of every plenary. The amount of money channeled toward climate through CGI commitments seems to have gone from about $100 million to literally $10 billion+ (I have no official confirmation on this yet…)  The energy and the desperation on the issue are palpable.

Our choices on climate change are mitigation (slow and minimize it), adaptation (adjust) or suffering.  It’s clear that the world faces a powerful mix of all three, and the sooner and bolder we act, the more lives and species we save. 

Virtually all the projections of climate change have been too conservative. If the Arctic keeps melting at current rates, there will be no ice there in less than 23 years.  It will take hundreds of thousands of years (if ever) for it to return.  And with a new coal fired power plant coming online somewhere in the world every three days, people will emit more carbon into the atmosphere in the next 20 years than they have in the entire history of humanity. 

If you think about that for a moment and your heart doesn’t miss a beat, you’re not paying attention.

Al Gore keeps saying we face a planetary emergency, and this is the first time I (who does the environment basically for a living) really get it.  We may well even be talking about saving humanity.  The unprecedented UN session as well as President Bush’s climate summit, both last week, serve to reinforce the importance and urgency climate change is taking as a global issue.

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All the money and effort toward attacking global warming (with the exception of Gore’s Climate Alliance which is not part of CGI) continues to go toward technology and public policy solutions.  Of the dozens of commitments on climate at CGI, not one of them that I heard was directed toward public awareness and education.  We/they bemoan the lack of public support and conservation (the fastest, most profitable way of addressing climate) among consumers (2/3rds of our GNP) but all the focus here is on stopping coal, renewable energy, and ‘cap and trade’.

However much we’re all doing now to stop global warming, we should each find ways to do more. 

Thanks,
Bob

www.ecoamerica.net

 

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