Force the Leaders to Lead

Only government can implement existing technologies fast enough. So while corporations need to shoot all their efficiency and renewable energy bullets trying to reduce their own carbon footprint, it's most important that they use their own business as a club to batter legislators with advocacy, use their influence over customers to create a grassroots movement, and allocate advertising dollars to a climate campaign aimed at a broad audience. Individuals must do the same—with our votes, our pens, and our feet; we must literally storm the barricades in the same way we drove other social transformations like civil rights or America's exit from Vietnam. Yes, we should also screw in efficient lightbulbs, but without the delusion that such actions are enough. Or, as Bill McKibben says, "By all means, screw in that efficient light bulb, but then go screw in a new senator." And as my friend the writer Jules Older adds: " . . . and stop getting screwed by the old one."

Some of our problems—civil rights was one, health care is probably another—are just too big to be solved without government's help. In this sense, NASA's James Hansen agrees with Dick Cheney. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Hansen noted that a "call for people to reduce their CO2 emissions, while appropriate, oversimplifies and diverts attention from the essential requirement: government leadership. Without such leadership and comprehensive economic policies, conservation of energy by individuals merely reduces demands for fuel, thus lowering prices and ultimately promoting the wasteful use of energy."8

Hansen's point is deceptive because it is both disempow-ering and empowering at the same time. What can individuals do? Perhaps reducing our own CO2, on a planetary scale, isn't going to do much. But in the end, who is going to cause the government leadership to happen? Individuals.

At Aspen Skiing Company, as with any large business or even government entity, the leaders really don't get much direct communication from the public. If our CEO, Mike Kaplan, were to get a dozen handwritten letters from the public on a given issue, I can guarantee we'd have a high-level meet ing on the subject within a week. Imagine if there were a street protest outside our building. Individuals can drive change; they always do, and they've done it before. We need to get out in the streets, we need to bring our letters to the post office, and we need to force the leaders to lead.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment