My Experience at the Climate Leadership Training

Learning how to create a more sustainable future.

September 21, 2018

Editor’s Note from WCCO Program Director, Lindsey Peterson

Each week we are trying to share 1Thing that can help make a difference in our environment in an effort to try and do things better.  This week, I wanted to share an in-depth experience from someone who took a deep dive into Climate Change and attended Al Gore’s “Climate Leadership Training”.  Full disclosure, this is my wife, who is extremely passionate about doing things to make the planet better.  Her experience was eye opening and it’s her mission to share what she learned.  It was a unique opportunity, and we wanted to take some time to explain what she learned. 

Because this tends to be such a politically driven, agenda-based topic (that’s an understatement), I feel the need to provide some context.  Any time you mention “Climate Change” or especially our former vice president, it tends to create controversy, which is not our intention. 

  • In no way are we trying to influence you to “believe” a certain way.For us, this is sharing a story we think is interesting and provides a learning experience.
  • The purpose of our 1Thing initiatives is to simply find better ways to live sustainably.It isn’t politically motivated.It’s good business practice to save money.It’s responsible to find ways that waste less.
  • In my opinion, you don’t have to believe climate change is man-made in order to want to do things better.We’ve seen countless examples of technology working for us in ways that waste less (more efficient buildings/homes, electric cars, solar power, etc.).
  • This is not about the political agenda of former Vice President Al Gore.Of course, he brings politics into his discussions.Clearly, he disagrees with the current administration’s views towards this topic.Using politics to completely dismiss the issues he raises, however, is closing our eyes and ears to issues facing our planet.There’s no question our climate is changing (for whatever reason you want to believe in) and there are things we can do to move in a more sustainable direction.

With that in mind, here is Jennifer’s experience at the Climate Leadership Training this August in Los Angeles, CA. 

By Jennifer Grant of

At the end of 2017, after a series of events, I found myself questioning legacy and what would be mine.  I have given thought to this in the past and up to that point I knew my mission was to “lead with love for self and others”.  But this was different.  It dawned on me that self and others is a great start but if I believe we’re all connected, which I do, then what about our Great Mother Earth?  What about our HOME?  Instantly my mission changed to include Self, Others AND Earth.

With a shift in my mission came questions of what it means and what’s next.  I decided that I would allow love to be my guide toward my actions regarding my “Earthly footprint”.  For me, this meant starting with taking a closer look at my trash and thereby reversing the process and looking at how I make purchases.  My research quickly brought me to understand that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every single day.  That’s over 1,600 pounds of trash per year.  While I didn’t have nearly that much trash, I knew I could do better. 

I spent the next 3 months researching, learning and implementing ways to reduce my trash (including recycling WAY LESS because recycling isn’t the best answer).  In less than 90 days I cancelled our garbage service and now focus on living “zero waste”.  Although I had always had a love affair with Earth, it was during making these deliberate and conscious efforts that I remembered loving her for so many years.  As a young girl I was often involved in the “3R” programs known as reduce, reuse, recycle.  I remember WANTING to do a better job and to help save her in a big way.  As I grew older that desire was replaced with leaning into a life that society expects me to live – in a word, consumption. 

Fast forward 35+ years and my 3-month journey brought me back to the heart of what mattered most to me.  As I leaned further into my mission to lead with love for Self, Others, and Earth, I found myself asking bigger questions.  What else can I do to create a longer lasting change for Mother Earth. 

On July 10th my husband turned on a movie, The Inconvenient Sequel featuring former Vice President Al Gore.  While I had seen the movie previously I urged him to keep it on as I wanted to watch it with fresh eyes.  Within the first few minutes of the movie, Mr. Gore was seen leading a group of people through a workshop that was titled “Climate Reality Leadership Training”.  I immediately asked my husband to pause the movie, so I could look it up.  A quick search and I found an upcoming training to be held the end of August in Los Angeles with Mr. Gore.  The deadline to apply?  The very next day, July 11th.  I don’t know about you, but I certainly believe in Divine Guidance. 

I spent the next hour updating my resume and applying to the training.  I absolutely KNEW attending the training was my next step on this journey.  Two weeks later, on July 25th, I received an email letting me know I was accepted to attend the training in LA Aug 28-30th.  I would learn from not only Mr. Gore but also a group of world-class scientists, business leaders and innovators about climate change and what it means not only for our country but also our planet. 

Mr. Gore held the first training in his barn with 50 mentees in 2006.  I attended the 39th training with 2,200 people from 40 countries, the largest training to date.  There are now over 17,000 Climate Reality Leaders (those that have attended and completed the training) in over 100 countries doing what we can to help solve the climate crisis. 

Day 1

We were welcomed into a state-of-the-art green building that is a great example of what can be done when we push toward renewables.  The Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) is LEED gold certified and has their own source of energy through a large array of solar panels.  They also encourage using public transportation along with having a 3-part waste system including compost, recycling and trash.

After some welcoming comments and housekeeping, former Vice President Al Gore was greeted to the stage with a standing ovation.  During his brief opening remarks, he shared how important this work regarding the climate crisis is in one powerful sentence:

“We are going to win this.  But it matters a lot how soon we win this.” – Former Vice President Al Gore

Having the training take place in Los Angeles served two distinct purposes that I noted.  The first is being a central and easy access location for around the world.  With a large portion of the attendees from out of the country, a location with easy travel was important.  Second, and maybe more importantly, California is a leader in their efforts to mitigate climate change and create a greener, more sustainable future. 

This was made obvious by the first panel that Mr. Gore moderated - California’s Roadmap for Climate Leadership.  This panel was comprised of some of California’s climate champions.  The discussion focused on the “power of broad coalitions and inclusive action to build a united front for progress”. 

                PANEL:  Roadmap for Climate Leadership – Take-Aways I had:

  • Recognize the minority communities WANT to be involved
    • They do not want to be seen as victims and protestors RATHER see them as protectors and resilient heroes
    • See them with new eyes and put them at the table
  • Renewables and Storage
    • Focusing on solving storage options is critical and it’s improving everyday
  • Advice the panel had for other states:
    • Show up at every level – get involved
    • Have face to face interactions – let your leaders know it’s important to you
    • Focus on moderate/low income – often inefficient and great change can take place immediately
    • Have conversations on energy efficiency
      • People tend to be all ears when you talk about saving money
      • “There is no business on a dead planet.” – Al Gore

At the completion of the first panel we had a break for lunch.  Because climate change encompasses many areas, agriculture included, all our meals/snacks were completely vegetarian/vegan friendly.  While we didn’t discuss this piece in detail during the training, it is important to note that our food choices have an impact greater than we often realize or care to understand. 

Having a chance to experience the presentation that sparked a global movement by Mr. Gore himself, is one I will likely never forget.  An Inconvenient Truth, his first documentary introduced millions to the reality of the climate crisis and inspired many more to make a difference in their homes and communities.  To recap what happened next would take over 550 slides and 2 ½ hours of presentation. 

Mr. Gore started his talk titled “The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions” by asking three questions:

  1. Must We Change?
  2. Can We Change?
  3. Will We Change?

For the next 2 ½ hours I was immersed in learning first what feels like a hopeless situation answering a hearty YES to the question Must We Change.  Yes, we absolutely must.  When you see evidence placed back to back, over and over of how much our climate has changed, there is no other answer.  And for those that argue that the raising of temperatures “slightly” isn’t significant, it’s important to remember the difference between 211 and 212 degrees or 32 and 33 degrees.  It’s the difference between boiling water and ice.  One degree shift globally is a significant impact.  Yes, we MUST change. 

The next part of Mr. Gore’s presentation, a portion of the 550+ slides, focused on the question of Can We Change.  The good news is that we have the solutions at hand.  For example, the year 2000 projection was that the worldwide wind capacity will reach 30 GW by 2010.  By 2017 that goal was exceeded by a factor of 18 times!  Yes, we CAN change.  It is being said that globally, wind could supply worldwide electricity consumption 40 times over. 

Solar energy is in a similar position.  The 2002 projection was that the solar energy market will grow one gigawatt per year by 2010.  The reality is that by 2017 the goal was exceeded by 17 times.  Yes, we CAN change, and we have the solutions available now.  It’s important to realize that as we progress, we need to remember that it will grow exponentially even faster.  And did you know that enough solar energy reaches Earth every hour to fill all the world’s energy needs for a full year?!?  Imagine the possibilities as we lean in to capturing that even better.  The time is now for us to embrace these opportunities.

There are a variety of other ways that we are already seeing change happen.  There are countries planning a fossil fuel vehicle phase out, auto manufacturers moving toward electric vehicles, and jobs in renewables are growing as much as 9 times faster than the overall economy.  Yes, we can change, and we have the resources to make those changes happen.

The last slide of his presentation is the same as the first.  Taken on the Apollo 8 mission, Dec 24, 1968, Earthrise is a photo of our HOME.  “Will We Change?” is the final question that Mr. Gore asked at the beginning.  The answer, I believe, is an individual one.  Will YOU change?  I know I will.

Upon completion of his presentation, Mr. Gore was met with wild applause.  He is a charismatic speaker and incredibly inspiring, knowledgeable and compassionate.  It was truly incredible to witness.  Not a soul in the room wasn’t inspired by what he had shared.  We saw, very clearly, why this is so important RIGHT NOW and filled with hope by the possibilities. 

                PRESENTATION:  The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions by Al Gore – Take-Aways I had:

  • The climate crisis is much bigger than I realized
  • It doesn’t discriminate who/where it impacts
  • It is affecting and will affect even more global systems including:
    • Food supply
    • Water
    • Global health
  • We have the solutions available now
    • We must elect leaders that reflect this as a priority
    • We must vote
    • Importance of solar and wind
    • We cannot be afraid of the financial concerns
      • Money and jobs in renewables
      • Vote with our dollars, spend to support
  • Large scale commitments being made
    • 28 countries joined “Powering Past Coal”
    • 16 US States (representing 1/3 of American people) formed the United States Climate Alliance, Minnesota included
    • There are many US cities that are committed to 100% renewable electricity, both Minneapolis and St. Louis Park in Minnesota
    • Over 140 global companies have made a commitment to go 100% renewable
  • The time to act is NOW

After a short break to take in what just transpired, we headed to our first breakout session.  The breakout sessions gave us a snapshot view into 4 different areas to help us better understand and implement what we were learning. 

My first breakout session felt like a kick in the heart.  I had no idea what I was walking into with a session titled, “Fighting for Healthy Communities”.  It was described as: “Climate change and polluted communities have similar root causes – the inequitable distribution of social, political, and economic power.  These imbalances create conditions that drive both greenhouse gas emissions as well as health inequities.  Addressing climate change provides a significant opportunity to improve public health and advance health equity.  Learn how communities are mobilizing for global climate action by advocating for the health of their families and neighbors right at home.”

In short, this session was an eye-opening view for someone like me that had never known the atrocities that take place.  It felt like I was listening to another version of the Erin Brockovich story, but one filled with coal refineries and oil drilling.  I hadn’t realized the lengths to which companies would go to have coal and oil, with lives on the line every step of the way.  It blew my mind to hear that they (the oil and coal companies) would cover the smell of the plants with a citrus smell to mask what was really happening.  Wow. 

                BREAKOUT SESSION:  Fighting for Healthy Communities – Take-Aways I had:

  • The poorer communities often don’t have a choice
    • 5 refineries in 1 Los Angeles neighborhood
    • 9.14 square miles with a population of nearly 60,000
    • “Neighbor is an Oil Drill”
      • Many examples of living across from oil drilling and getting lung cancer within 4 years
  • The richer communities can live away from the coal refineries and oil drilling
    • Thereby turn a blind eye to what is happening
    • Many benefit financially from the suffering of others
  • It is up to us (those of us that do not live in these areas) to become educated about what is happening
    • Awareness brings understanding and then we can bring change
    • Find the underserved areas in my community and raise a voice for equity

After my first breakout session left my heart cracked wide open and feeling winded, furious, and ready to make change happen NOW, I headed to my second session – “What’s Next: Take Action and Create Change”.  This session was described as: “Spanning six continents, 10 branch offices, and 149 countries, the Climate Reality Leadership Corps engages, connects, and activates a global network of thousands of change agents through its programs and campaigns.  This session will highlight the vital role Climate Reality Leaders play in building planet-wide momentum for climate solutions, and help you begin to plan for your first action as a Climate Reality Leader.”

This session felt like a perfect one to end the first day of training.  Led by the Director of Engagement for The Climate Reality Project, it really was about getting us engaged.  It focused first on making sure we felt confident that our voice counts, and it does matter and second what we could do when we returned home armed as Climate Reality Leaders. 

                BREAKOUT SESSION:  What’s Next: Take Action and Create Change – Take-Aways I had:

  • Give presentations
    • Use the resources available to us
      • Make them work for you
    • Customize for different audiences
    • Access to THOUSANDS of slides
    • Access to hundreds of ready to go presentations
  • Truth in Ten
    • A FREE resource available to everyone (trained or not)
  • 64% of American voters think more needs to be done, but not 64% are taking action
    • Need more voters
    • Need more education, awareness, understanding
    • My role to help with giving awareness AND action
  • There are a lot of people doing great work in this area
    • Get connected
    • Amplify their work
    • Join a coalition
  • Take action now and talk about it
    • Ride the wave from the conference
    • Build more momentum
    • Getting started right away keeps you engaged

Day 2

The morning of day 2 started with a Q&A segment – “The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions”.  It featured questions from topics chosen by the audience.  Like other panels, Mr. Gore and other heavy hitters were included in the discussion, such as Veerabhadran Ramanathan.  Mr. Ramanathan is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  This panel was so powerful, dynamic and educated that I ended up taking over 5 pages of notes.  While I can’t possibly relay all the information for you, I will share some highlights.

                PANEL:  The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions Q&A – Take-Aways I had

  • Opening Statements
    • Climate Change as a US topic
      • Consistently stated as important, yet most often not included
      • Only 45 minutes of primetime coverage over the course of a year
      • US is unique in it not being a top priority
        • “We (the US) are noisy on climate denial.” – Al Gore
      • Ramanathan talked about giving presentations to other scientists
        • There was no pushback or surprise even though it wasn’t being discussed
        • When he asked about it the response was “we know about it, but we don’t talk about it”
  • Question – What can I do right now, as an individual?
    • First
      • Electric Vehicle
      • Mass Transit
      • Conscious Consumer
        • ASK: Is this a CLIMATE CONSCIOUS choice?
      • Basics – lightbulbs, windows, insultation, etc.
    • Second
      • Vote
      • Change laws/policies
        • Individual action is vital, but we need top down policy change
        • Fossil fuel companies hired some of the same PR companies as the tobacco companies – they are smart, they know what they are doing, we need to do better

“In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to solve the democracy crisis.” – Al Gore

  • Talk to people
    • It must get to the public
    • Very few people are aware
  • Question – Who are the best messengers?
    • Ramanathan’s answer:
      • We are.With our networks, families, friends, coworkers.
      • We know how to solve the problems.The technology is there.
      • Recognize climate change will affect the rich the same way it affects the poor.They need change too.
      • Not political, this is a human issue tragedy, yet we’ve made it political
    • Mr. Gore’s answer:
      • You.
        • It puts a burden on you, but people need to become aware.
        • “We’ve had grave challenges before and we have the ability to change once we come together.”
      • Need
        • Massive voter registration
        • Balance of shaking people awake and giving hope
        • Get out, knock on doors, go to meetings, get face to face

“When you commit yourself, things change.  When a city or community commits, things change.” – Al Gore

  • Question – What about agriculture and its role?
    • Biggest and immediate change
      • Stop throwing away food
        • 40% currently thrown away
        • Movement to ban throwing away food
        • Have stores required to give it away and/or put into compost and turn into soil/fertilizer
    • Adopt vegetarian/vegan diet
      • Gore stated he’s been vegetarian for years but stopped trying to convince people to change their diet, focuses on other avenues
      • People are very resistant to this change, and it’s very important to consider
    • Crop rotation
    • Sustainable and Organic farming practices
      • Policy coming forward
        • Supports those regenerating soil with sus/org farming
        • Absorbs more CO2
        • Rewards for more regenerating vs. subsidizing big farm

Before I left the comforts of my home, I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I returned from my Climate Reality Training.  The next speaker, however, completely altered my ideas in a way I would have never imagined! 

Eric Garcetti is the Mayor of Los Angeles and shared about 30 minutes with us in which he talked about “Inspiring Global Action Through Local Leadership”.  Walking into the conference I never would have guessed I would be scheduling meetings to talk to my small-town local Mayor and yet that is exactly one of the first actions I took when I arrived back home.  Other than listening to Mr. Gore present, Mayor Garcetti was the most impactful presenter to me.  The Mayor started by asking us three very poignant questions to consider and then moved into discussing how to approach conversations with our local leaders.  What he left us with will spark bigger, deeper and broader conversations and I am so grateful. 

PRESENTATION:  Inspiring Global Action Through Local Leadership w/Mayor Garcetti – Take-Aways I had

  • Three Questions Everyone MUST Consider
    • These 3 questions account for between 66-80% of our climate change problem
    • Answer the questions with climate conscious in mind
    • Adopt new (mostly already available) solutions and we solve the climate crisis
    • The questions
      • How do you and your stuff get around?How does your ‘stuff’ get to you?(Transportation)
      • How do you stay comfortable in your home?(Systems)
      • How do you power your devices? (Energy)
  • Five Keys to Consider When Approaching Local Leaders
    • Know your stuff – be better educated about your topic than who you are presenting to
    • Be specific – what do you really want to happen
    • Be flexible – get a victory, bank it, keep going
      • If this means accepting a piece of bread vs asking for the entire loaf and getting none, accept a piece of bread – it’s a start
    • Be inclusive – feel less special about being an environmentalist and be willing to join a big coalition
    • Be proactive and stop playing defensively
  • Get involved
    • We assume a lot of people are involved, that’s a false assumption
    • If you want to create change, you must start the conversations
    • Leaders will be open to listening, most people don’t even approach them

Following the Mayor was a brief break and then onto the next breakout session.  My third breakout was regarding communication.  I’d already been equipped with some extreme motivation, inspiration and hope, and this session was designed to help me package it to deliver the important messages. 

A brother and sister duo led the session titled “Communicating Climate Change” with the following description: “Sharing the climate message with a broad audience can be challenging, but case studies, personal stories, and new ways of connecting can help activists inspire others to join the fight for solutions.  This session will teach participants how to build trust with their audiences and become more effective communicators and trainers.”  As a speaker, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was already utilizing many of the tips they gave us.  However, it was also emphasized the importance of the way we communicate with such delicate, yet timely, messages of the climate crisis.

At the end of this session, we were able to spend some time going through our own personal stories.  This helped get us connected to why climate change is on our hearts and why we feel called to do something about it.  It was truly amazing to me hearing some of the compelling stories.  Never underestimate the power of a great story!

                BREAKOUT SESSION:  Communicating Climate Change – Take-Aways I had:

  • Importance of story telling
    • Great stories happen to those who can tell them
    • Well-structured stories are best
    • Make them emotionally compelling
  • Three key components
    • Structure – what is the sequence
      • Beginning
        • What is the problem affecting you?
        • It’s the WHY and builds common ground
    • Middle
      • What did you decide to do about it?
      • It’s the CLIMAX and expands the conversation to us
    • End
      • Where are you now?
      • It’s the OUTCOME and offers the audience the opportunity to step forward with a simple call to action
    • Framing – the subject of the conversation
      • Effective frames appeal to the audience’s identity and values
      • It’s more impactful as it aligns to interests, concerns, needs, etc.
      • Example: “parent” frame, “economy” frame, “business” frame
    • Messaging – what do you want to say about it
      • Important to infuse optimism and hope
        • Compelling messages are hopeful
        • Focused on available solutions
      • We want to connect with the heart
        • Don’t focus on stats – that’s in the head
        • Don’t push to change – shows separation
        • Don’t inject fear – that leads to shutdown
        • Do share shared values and personal stories

After an incredible and packed morning, we were greeted with a delicious all vegetarian/vegan lunch before moving into our final breakout session of the training.  Session number four was all about presenting – “Now Presenting: Mastering the Presentation”.  This session gave us very specific tools and tips for taking these messages and spreading them far and wide.  It was described as:

“The Climate Reality Leadership Corps was founded on the idea that people like you could give presentations to spread truth about the climate crisis and its solutions.  Over 10 years later, the corps has grown, and Vice President Gore’s slideshow continues to live at the heart of the program.  Join some of our most experienced presenters and our presentation coordinator to discover how you can find opportunities to present, customize the slideshow, and inspire audiences of all types to take action and solve the climate crisis.”

This is exactly what I came to learn and what I feel called to be doing.  This session ended up being the nuts and bolts of “how to” hold a presentation.  While this was specific to our mission, the take-aways I had will help with any presentation.

                BREAKOUT SESSION:  Now Presenting – Mastering the Presentation – Take-Aways I had:

  • Things to consider when preparing to present
    • What’s your story?
    • How do you find your audience?
    • What’s their mission statement?
    • How will you include them in your talk?
    • If possible, include humor
    • Share local stories of the problem and the solution, when possible
    • End with an inspiring call to action
  • Who is your audience?
    • Age
    • Education
    • Professional/business/academia
    • Gender
    • Nationality
    • Political/religious affiliations
    • Previous experience/exposure to the climate crisis

One of the major results of climate change that we are seeing is regarding forest fires.  The next panel was made up of three Fire Chiefs and moderated by Mr. Gore.  This panel discussed “Facing Reality: Firefighters on the Climate Frontlines” and focused on the increasing risk of wildfires and the conditions that have been created in many parts of the world to make fires more likely and more severe.  It was a somber experience as we listened to those on the frontlines share their stories and experiences. 

                PANEL:  Facing Reality – Firefighters on the Climate Frontlines – Take-Aways I had:

  • Used to be rare when over 100,000 acres would burn in one fire
    • Now it’s common
    • Often much higher
    • CA recent fires burned over 400,000 acres – QUADRUPLE
  • Fire season in California
    • Used to be 4-5 months a year
    • Now “fire season” is YEAR ROUND
  • 95% of fires are caused by people directly/indirectly

The next conversation was between Al Gore and Hal Harvey.  Mr. Harvey is the CEO of Energy Innovation and is a leading energy researcher and innovator.  They spent time discussing the technological solutions that can and will address the climate crisis.  While many of the presentations/discussions left me feeling inspired positively to act, this discussion left me feeling inspired in another way.  Mr. Harvey started by saying that if we are not involved in one of four areas, we aren’t really in the game of climate change.  To paraphrase he said that it doesn’t matter if you’re driving your bus around on used oil, you’re not doing enough.  I felt shocked, irritated, angry and curious all at the same time.  I knew he was talking directly to me. 

I was so proud of my zero-waste journey.  That journey is what led me to the training so of course I was proud of it.  And basically, Mr. Harvey told me that what I was doing back home didn’t matter and that I wasn’t in the game of truly supporting our climate.  Yes, I was frustrated.  I was also very curious.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t even understand the title of their conversation: “Getting Real About Rapid Decarbonization”.  But I did understand enough to know I was in the right place at the right time.

                CONVERSATION:  Getting Real About Rapid Decarbonization – Take-Aways I had:

  • Four areas to focus on (otherwise NOT in the game)
    • Electric Utilities
      • Public utility commissions
      • 2/3 wind installed in ‘red states’
        • Not because of climate focus
        • Because of $$
      • Focus on the money and their pocket book
      • Working toward a zero-carbon grid
    • Transportation
      • Zero emission vehicles
        • Public transportation
        • Personal transportation
    • Buildings
      • Zero net energy buildings
        • Energy used by the building is from renewables created onsite
    • Manufacturing
      • Zero waste manufacturing
      • Rethinking how we make stuff
      • Redesigning the life cycles so everything can be/is reused

The final panel of Day 2 focused on “Clean Transportation: Moving Beyond Carbon”.  Recently, transportation overtook electricity as the biggest source of carbon emissions in the US.  This discussion was an opportunity to hear how California is rethinking their approaches.  It was made clear, yet again, that we have everything available to us.  It is more about being open and willing to accept the change necessary.

                PANEL:  Clean Transportation – Moving Beyond Carbon – Take-Aways I had:

  • Four areas to focus on creating change
    • Behavioral
      • Being open to doing things differently
        • Purchasing differently
        • Supporting differently
    • Funding
      • Put the money where you want to create change
      • Educate people that there is financial gain in solving the crisis
    • Policy
      • Vote for those that support saving the climate
      • Top down laws/policy change
    • New Technology
      • Support new technology
      • Be open to embracing as it becomes available
      • The curve will come as more people adapt

Day 3

Ken Berlin, the President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project opened our final (half) day sharing about the last decade of progress, the changing political landscape as it relates to climate change, and my role as a Climate Reality Leader in catalyzing action.

                PRESENTATION:  Climate Reality’s Strategy in a Changing Political Landscape – Take-Aways I had

  • Political climate
    • Polls show that 68% of politicians do NOT look at the polls to make decisions
    • We MUST contact our politicians
    • Why VOTING for those that are stepping up to support climate change is important
    • 16million “environmentalists” did not vote in the midterms
      • One of the most important things we can do is vote

Coming back for a condensed version of his 2 ½ hour presentation, Mr. Gore brought us “Truth in 10”.  Truth in 10 is a version of the slideshow that is given in just 10 minutes covering the same three questions:  Must We Change, Can We Change, Will We Change.  After having experienced the full version only two days prior, I was even more inspired by this 10+ minute presentation.  (You can view a recorded version of the Truth in 10 by Mr. Al Gore and download the slides, if you like – for free.  )

With only a few short hours remaining, I couldn’t believe my time was nearly done and I would be an officially trained Climate Reality Leader.  The final three panels, although very different, were quite inspiring.  The first was “Climate Change on Camera”.  This panel was made up of Jonathan Scott of the popular Property Brothers, Bonni Cohen one of the Directors for Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Sequel, and Alan Horn the Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.  This fantastic panel was moderated by Al Gore. 

While all three had very different angles and experiences within the film industry, they agreed on the importance of movies supporting the wake up to the climate crisis.  Movies like Wall-E, Avatar, Fern Gully, Downsizing, An Island President, and of course, An Inconvenient Truth and An Inconvenient Sequel were all geared as a wake up call.  Additionally, Jonathan Scott shared about his upcoming documentary that will be released in January called Power Trip.  The catalyst for his movie started after he wanted to use solar power in his Las Vegas home.  He shared how difficult it was to get the local company to “flip the switch” to him using his solar.  Jonathan said it took 6 months to get it turned on and within a couple months it was turned off.  This craziness prompted him to dig deeper and find out what’s really going on, which led to the documentary.  I’m really looking forward to seeing that when it comes out.

The main premise of this panel was understanding the role that film plays and can play.

                PANEL:  Climate Change on Camera – Take-Aways I had:

  • A good film must have:
    • A character we can care about and cheer for
    • A journey the character goes on
    • An antagonist
    • A beginning, middle, and end
    • A bigger story to tell

The final two panels for the conference were quite inspirational.  The first of the two was focused on “Ensuring Climate Equity” and gave us more stories around how community leaders and climate activists were addressing these issues in neighborhoods that are struggling.  Based on their experiences and the realities that abound, it seems there really are ‘sacrifice zones’ and those that are simply known as collateral damage.  The frontline communities are under attack and this is not acceptable.  My greatest take-away from this session reminds me of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” - MLK

The last panel of the day featured previously trained Climate Reality Leaders.  Vice President Al Gore started the discussion by sharing the origin story of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps and then facilitated a conversation with 4 of the current leaders.  It was emphasized that their stories vary greatly and yet they have come together for the same cause.  It was inspiring to hear what each is doing in his or her own way to impact climate change. 

As the conference ended, I found myself feeling so very blessed.  I was able to spend 3 days in a room with 2,200 people that are passionate about solving the climate crisis, countless others that presented and shared their stories, all led by former Vice President Al Gore.  What a truly remarkable experience.  I walked away knowing I was much better equipped to handle the conversations I knew I would be having.  I also walked away knowing I had so much more to learn.  If I had been passionate about this and my understanding barely scratched the surface, what did other people understand that weren’t passionate about it?  I wasn’t sure, but I was/am willing to find out.