About a year ago, I wrote about the time I spent in the heart of West Virginia coal country, reflecting on the consequences of the state’s energy boom-and-bust cycle and the failure to invest and prepare for a future without coal. The post, “Lessons for Ohio’s Energy Boom from West Virginia Coal Country,” can be [...]
A call to action worth sharing:
You don’t know me but, right now, I am deeply affecting your future.
I am the CEO of a Fortune 250 company, NRG Energy, which generates enough electricity to keep the lights on for roughly 40 million Americans. That’s a lot and that’s a good thing. Indeed, all of us at NRG are very proud that what we do enables the interconnected lifestyles that define the human experience in the 21st century.
But we at NRG are concerned that the predominant fuels we and the other companies in our industry are using – and have used since the time of Thomas Edison – to keep you energized are ultimately exhaustible and, of even greater and more immediate concern, are having a damaging and potentially irrevocable impact on the world that you are in the process of inheriting from us and ultimately will bequeath to your own children.
A remarkable consensus of the world’s leading scientists and academic experts, some of which come from your own university, tell us that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent (from present levels) by 2050 in order to avoid potentially catastrophic harm to the earth’s environment. In a growing world, that size reduction is breathtakingly difficult to accomplish. You can be assured that it won’t “just happen.”
Now I am pretty sure that you don’t spend much of your day worrying about the state of the environment 36 years from now and that is a good thing. If life has taught me one thing so far, it is that you should try to “live in the moment” to the fullest extent possible.
But spare one of those moments now to think about where you will be in 2050.
You will be in your mid-50s, which happens to be the age I am right now. While it may seem to you, at your age, like I am, at my age, ‘near dead,’ I naturally see my situation differently. Indeed, I feel like I am in the prime of my life with much to look forward to. You will feel the same in 2050. And I am pretty sure that the earth you hope to inhabit then looks much like the remarkable, magical place it is now.
The irony is that an old guy like me thinks about 2050 every day. Perhaps even more worth considering is that every day decisions are being made by me and people like me that will deeply impact you in 2050. Decisions are being made to build multi-billion dollar power generation facilities and related infrastructure – some clean, some not so clean – that will still be fulfilling your energy needs in 2050 and, while you will certainly enjoy the fruits of our labor, you also will have to live with any negative side effects. We can invest now to mitigate against the future systemic risk of climate change or we can keep doing what we are doing and kick the can down the road to you.
See that’s the thing.
Whether it be carbon capture, distributed solar, smart thermostats or electric vehicles, the technology exists now to bring about a clean energy economy and a sustainable society. But it is always easier in an established society to perpetuate the status quo than it is to effect change. What we need is for you to demand control over your own energy choices so that you can make the choices that are right for you and your generation.
It should be clear to you by now that the political leaders of my generation will not act to protect your future interest, so you must. You are not powerless. You are trend setters, thought leaders, and, importantly for the purpose of this matter, end-use energy consumers. Our capitalist system, which will respond to the consumer demands of any significant portion of the public, is particularly responsive to the demands of your generation. You will be here, consuming, for a long time.
Your peers in other countries have used the tools and extraordinary interconnectivity of your generation to liberate entire nations from despotic governments, to bring to light corruption and injustice, to launch popular movements. And that is what we need now; a popular movement that is not destructive or nihilistic but constructive and highly focused on overcoming the transcendent challenge of climate change.
What has made America great has been that every generation of American leadership has risen to the defining challenge of its era. You are the next generation of American leadership. Climate change is your defining challenge. In the natural order of things, it would not yet be your time to lead. But the clock is ticking on climate change and the world just can’t wait any longer. So you must act.
The time to begin is now.
David Crane, CEO, NRG
Blue Print Columbus: An innovate approach to managing stormwater, improving property values, and creating jobs
Last month, I attended Columbus Mayor Coleman’s “State of the City” address. Of the many ideas that grabbed my attention, including the initiation of a study to look at airport expansion and a light rail system connection from the airport to downtown, the idea that I was most interested in was “Blue Print Columbus.” The [...]
A quick summary from CincyBeat (with lots of good links to supplemental information): Ohio ranked No. 8 among states for solar jobs in 2013, with solar employment growing to 3,800 from 2,900 over the year, according to the Feb. 11 census report from the Solar Foundation. [Solar sector grew by 31 percent between 2012 and [...]
A compelling and challenging piece from Matthew Scully, originally published in here the National Review. Matthew Scully was a speechwriter in each of the last six presidential general-election campaigns and was a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He is the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to [...]
In an earlier post, I wrote about my experience with setting up a Village Bank offering mirco-credit loans in Malawi, and I noted that I was curious about whether the microfinance model, traditionally applied in the developing world, could also be applied in a place like Ohio. Excitingly, Kiva, a non-profit leveraging the internet and [...]
The recent government shut-down and near default highlighted, yet again, the deep partisanship and polarization in Washington. In trying to make some sense of this crippling polarization, many people are raising the issue of gerrymandering as a potential culprit. This blog repeatedly covered the topic in the context of last year’s failed ballot initiative to [...]
I recently spent a couple of weeks in Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although the climb and the high altitude was physically grueling, the experience was deeply rewarding and rejuvenating. Mt. Kilimanjaro is over 19,000 ft. high and has a permanent ice cap. The name “Kilimanjaro” means mountain of snow: “kili” is the word for [...]