Capitalizing on an Inflection Point in America


(
Originally published December 20,2012 in ecoAffect)

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Last October ecoAmerica brought some of the brightest leaders together for a structured day of learning, sharing, and collaboration to seek and plan ways to inspire Americans to prepare for and prevent further risks brought about by climate change. Attendance was by invitation only, and included nearly 100 of America’s leading CEOs, CMOs, academics and cultural celebrities — climate and sustainability leaders, innovative social science and communication experts, and leaders from a diverse array of other sectors.

The biggest take away from this Changing Seasons, Changing Lives Conference was that the situation has changed, but we have not. The palpable sense of urgency for effective action on climate change was matched by near universal self-criticism. At a time when America needs leadership, strategy and solutions on climate change, as a movement, climate solutions advocates are fractured and in a state of disarray. The old ideas have not worked, but we now have no path forward that begins to match the challenge and the need.

Leaders agreed that climate change is upon us – and that the implications are dire. Amidst this though is new opportunity. Now, in place of science we have reality. In place of the Arctic, we have America. And in place of 2030 we have 2013. We face these new realities with a burgeoning supply of fossil fuels, a carbon industry practiced in protecting their interests, and a polarized and gridlocked political system, but transformative solutions that could power the next millennia of human potential are all around us.

Many hundreds of organizations in America are working on climate solutions – and dozens of their leaders attended the summit. These fragmented, often duplicative and sometimes conflicting efforts can be the foundation of the solution. Aligned with shared principles and empowered in collective action, we could shift our energy regime in ways that promise a more secure, safe, healthy, and prosperous future.

Summit leaders remain hopeful, but they are not at all confident that we will pull our act together and lead America toward climate solutions if we continue down our current path. We have the assets – people and money. We now need to put principles before policy and common cause before organizational self-interest. If we cannot pull ourselves together, we will certainly not be able to pull the nation together around climate solutions. We need to build our movement, support and empower leadership, talk about and make climate change a value proposition, and connect with the hearts of Americans.

At ecoAmerica, we’re going to pay heed to the wisdom displayed at Changing Seasons, Changing Lives (download the conference’s summary report for free here). On January 1st, 2013 we will launch MomentUs, a backbone initiative that will work in the background to empower the leadership and collaboration, and to empower and support other organizations in working together for climate solutions.

 

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