Thursday, February 5, 2009

National Teach-in on Global Warming

As I begin my graduate education in Sustainability, opportunities to participate in the growing community of Environmental and Green Advocates abound.  Today, I attended the National Teach-in on Global Warming, an experience I hope to duplicate many times in the future.  If you have not participated in the past, the opportunity is unique.  After a brief video presentation, ideas about global change and improvement is encouraged as like-minded individuals share feedback, ideas and pathways to move forward and implement change.

Directed mainly at the many students in campuses across the country, the presentation today focused on the need for immediate action & change and a resounding call to action for young Americans everywhere.  Kin to the rally speeches of the 1900’s for Women’s Sufferage or the 1960’s for human rights, the orator called the college students of America to take up the fight and get involved.  Call your congressman; Call your senator; Go to Capital Hill.  With images of coal plants and the future of energy, the message was clear; a shift to cleaner, renewable technology is needed to improve the world, the environment and our economy.

In our little group, we had a unique mix of business owners, executives, advocates and students all striving to find their place in the sustainable movement.  Notice I did not say global warming or climate change, but sustainable movement. Early in our discussion, we discussed the need to look at the solution being a more sustainable future; solutions based on improving the way we treat our environment, the way we do business, the way we live and the way we play.  Simply changing actions in the short term does not create long-term solutions.  Sustainable change benefits all sides of the argument (environment or economics), whether to believe or disbelieve the climate change theories.

Several key points from the discussion included:

  • The Right Thing To Do – Whether you are an environmentalist or not, we have all learned for years that doing the right thing means reducing our impact on the world around us.  As a Scout you learned to leave the site better than you found it.  In school we learned the importance of cleaning up after ourselves and reusing when possible.  In business we learn that waste is expensive and it requires action from all to reduce it.  Doing the right thing today means finding ways to reduce the damage to the world through human activities.
  • Economic Factors – To be sustainable and viable, change must be feasible on all levels.  Similar to other discussions online, encouraging everyone to do something is better than bantering over not enough action.  Everyone needs to do what you can afford today and as you reduce energy consumption and waste, you will have more capital to continue improving in the future.
  • Get Ready to Work – As “green” is pushed forward as a means for economic recovery, Americans need to be ready for the jobs ahead.  Engineers need to hone their skills and think outside of the box to design a new way forward.  Others need to swallow their pride and pickup a shovel, hammer or screwdriver and get ready to work.  In order to rebuild our country, it will require work, the likes of which the current generation has never known.
  • Spread the Word – As fellow graduate student Shana so eloquently put it, we don’t need to convert those of us in this room, we already believe.  Spreading the word and the spark that causes so many of us to take action everyday is our challenge.  Why should others care?   How can they effect change?  What is the motivation?  This is our challenge.

Much more discussion occurred than I can share in this forum today, but the key to everything is action.  Many of us, in our online communities, talk about change, share ideas and make minor changes in our small sphere of influence.  Today, we need more.  We each need to find ways to include another group in our discussion and spread the need to improve our world, not for fear of devastation, but for the hope of a cleaner, safer, healthier world for us and our children.

Visit National Teach-In at: