I recently had the good fortune and privilege to hear former president Bill Clinton speak at an event given by the Walden Woods Project where he received the Global Environmental Leadership Award. The award recognizes “significant achievement in the areas of climate stability, biodiversity, natural resource stewardship, human understanding and global environmental policy”.
I’ve always found President Clinton a mesmerizing and thoughtful speaker, but I have never heard him speak only about environmental issues, nor in person. He spoke of his work with the Clinton Climate Initiative, which he launched in 2006, and I found myself thinking how lucky we are to have this man of prestige and influence speaking worldwide about solving the urgent issues of climate change with sound solutions that benefit the earth and the economy. He has partnered with climate leadership groups in cities around the world that are taking action on combating climate change, and one point that particularly hit home is that while other nations are debating the best way to combat climate change, here in the United States we are still debating whether climate change actually exists. The hot, dry drought conditions affecting most of the nation this summer and the strange and sudden microburst storms that seem to be a new pattern, along with other weather extremes, a mixed up growing season, super weeds, invasive plants and pests, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, etc., leave little room for doubt. We are wasting valuable time and resources stuck in this debate while other nations move forward with their solutions.
Clinton’s programs are vast and “work to increase accessibility and deployment of clean energy, reverse deforestation, and reduce carbon emissions in cities and communities”. One example is his refurbishment and renovation of buildings to “green”, LEED-certified ones (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) like the Empire State Building. LEED certified buildings are designed to reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants, reduce harmful gas emissions, and lower operating costs. Through these building reconstructions, many jobs are created – from the architects to the designers, engineers, builders, to the manufacturers and suppliers of products and tools used in the project. This one program contributes significant solutions to environmental challenges and unemployment. Clinton thinks all Federal buildings should be converted to LEED certified.
Though we have a long way to go, I left the event feeling more hopeful knowing solutions exist and action is being taken to the devastating issue of climate change. Check out his website Clintonfoundation.org for more information.
Information compiled from the Walden Woods Project, http://www.usgbc.org, and clintonfoundation.org.