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On the Road with Practice Greenhealth

Julie Moyle, MSN, RN, Outreach and Engagement Specialist

Climate Reality Leadership Training with Al Gore

For three days in early March, I was immersed in an amazing collage of humanity focused on the greater good. I was one of 972 attendees from 32 countries around the world selected to be trained by Vice President Al Gore and environmental experts at the Climate Reality Project Leadership Training conference, March 2-4, 2017 in Denver, CO.

I was truly moved and inspired by the people I met: a school teacher in the Philippines teaching her students about climate change; a Muslim woman teaching environmental sustainability to congregations in mosques and synagogues around the world; an incredibly brave young graduate student from Ghana, Africa; an energy engineer and social entrepreneur from Australia; and dozens of fellow Coloradans, all who care just as relentlessly about environmental sustainability as I do. Looking back on the experience, I come away not just with a sense of hope, but a confident knowing that we will win this fight. What makes me feel that way?

First, the business case for renewable energies has passed the tipping point. I learned that for every doubling of solar energy production, costs are reduced 25%.For every doubling of wind energy production, costs are reduced 22%. Coal production has decreased 50% over the past decade, and wind energy production has increased 104% over the same time. A levelized cost of energy analysis (how much each Mwh of electricity costs to produce) demonstrates that solar and wind energy are now competitive with conventional oil and gas when unsubsidized, total costs of production are taken into consideration: (capital expenditure to build, operations and maintenance expenses, and fuel costs to run power production facilities). These trends will only continue and accelerate, according to financial outlooks by Bloomberg and Duetsche Bank.

Second, for the past three years, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have leveled off, and the global and domestic economies not only didn’t collapse, they grew. We now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupled from economic growth. Renewable electricity played a major role, accounting for around 90 percent of new electricity generation in 2015. These findings also point out the importance of now addressing all the other sources of greenhouse gas emissions: ;transportation, agriculture, and industrial processes.

Last, I witnessed something special during those three days. I watched everyday people from all walks of life around the globe come together and form an undeniable force of collective will. Artists, musicians, scientists, theologians, engineers, social entrepreneurs, doctors, retirees, children and more together chose their common legacy. They said no to dooming their future generations to a living hell on earth. Instead, I saw our beautifully diverse global community make a collective determination to chart a brighter future: one with clean air, clean water, healthy food, security, good jobs, equal opportunity and prosperity for all. There was a shared sense of hope, excitement, and dare I say it, joy about the incredible innovations and opportunities with the transition to renewable energies, and an unshakeable determination to realize a sustainable future for all inhabitants of this planet. The greater good. Unity. Compassion. Kindness. Concepts I hadn’t seen, felt, or heard in what feels like a long time. I luxuriated in it. I don’t know about you, but that is certainly the future I want for myself, my family, my friends, and my community.

There is a quote by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that resonates with me in regard to the work of environmental sustainability:

All truth passes through three stages.

First, it is ridiculed.

Second, it is violently opposed.

Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

What legacy will you choose? The answer is now self-evident.

References:

Climate Reality Project. 2017 Colorado PreEvent Powerpoint. ID #4083, ID #4697 ID #4696. https://www.climaterealityproject.org/training

Lazard, “”Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis- Version 10.0,” December 2016. https://www.lazard.com/media/438038/levelized-cost-of-energy-v100.pdf

International Energy Agency, “Decoupling of global emissions and economic growth confirmed,” March 16, 2016. https://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2016/march/decoupling-of-global-emissions-and-economic-growth-confirmed.html

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