Most people can identify a problem when they see one. What sets Climate Reality Leaders apart is their drive to do something about it, to be a part of the solution. Which means asking a lot of tough questions and acting on the answers, even when it means some difficult decisions.
Wei-Tai Kwok could identify a problem at a pretty early age. When he was still just a sophomore in 1978, he saw the problems American dependency on oil and gas presented and knew there had to be better alternatives. So at a national high school debate on energy, he started asking questions and proposed that the U.S. expand its use of solar power as a way to cut down on fossil fuels.
But it wasn’t until years later, when he walked out of the theater after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, that he realized his life wasn’t aligning with the solution to the larger problem that fossil fuels were driving: climate change. At that point, he was the CEO of his own successful advertising agency, helping businesses grow by selling more products and encouraging more consumption. “But,” he wondered, “is increasing consumer spending and endless annual growth part of the solution? Or part of the problem?”
The question led him to a crossroads, and it wasn’t long before he chose to leave his own agency and walk a new path. He found a new start as the head of global marketing with Suntech Power, one of the world’s largest solar energy companies. Wei-Tai saw what forward-thinking businesses and solar could do to address climate change—after all, he was working on the very solution he’d proposed as a teenager—but after several years with Suntech, he also saw how ordinary Americans had to join in and he knew he could do more to help.
So he began asking himself how. When he received an email about a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Chicago in August of 2013, he decided to go, feeling it was the perfect opportunity to get the skills he needed.
Wei-Tai said later that it was “the most interesting conference” he had ever attended. He met people from Asia, Europe, Africa, and America, and trained alongside Jews, Christians, Buddhists and atheists. “It made me feel that people all over the world did care so much about this topic,” he said. “It gave me hope that we, the people of this Earth, are in fact going to do something about this problem. And we are ready to do it NOW.”
After the training, Wei-Tai returned home to Lafayette, California and set a personal goal to reach 1,000 people with the truth about climate change. But he soon discovered it was not something he could do alone. After initially struggling to find audiences for his message, he got some invaluable advice from a friend.
Steve Richard, founder of a local nonprofit called Sustainable Lafayette, told Wei-Tai that he could spread his message further and faster if people in the community were spreading it for him. All he had to do was start asking for their help. So he began to close each of his presentations with the statement, “I have a personal goal of giving this presentation to 1,000 people this year. So you can help me, and you can help spread the facts. If any groups you’re involved with, or your business or your church, would be interested in having me speak to you, please contact me afterwards.”
The difference that simple request made was tremendous. Every presentation he gave quickly led to others as people in the audience, energized by what they’d heard and eager to help, came up to connect him with friends and other groups he could speak to. It was working better than he had dared to hope and a sign that not only was his message on climate change resonating, but also that the people hearing it wanted to be part of the solution. All he had to do was ask.
The proof was in the numbers. In 2014, Wei-Tai beat his personal goal of reaching 1,000 people (he got to 1,200). For 2015, he’s extended his goal and hopes to reach 2,000 people. And the numbers weren’t the only benefit.
“It’s been great to meet so many people in my community the past 18 months,” he says. “From middle-schoolers to senior citizens, I’ve been totally encouraged to see that people genuinely care about climate change. There is growing momentum, and that gives me hope that this generation in this decade will put some meaningful legislation in place. I have been surprised, and very happy, to meet so many people who care.”
To find out how you can become a part of the solution, visit the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training page and sign up for our next training in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, May 5-7.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.
- Extreme Heat-Stressed Locations Could Increase by 80% - EcoWatch ›
- African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed to Extreme Heat ... ›
- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Government Neglect ... ›
Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.
- Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom ... ›
- Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices - EcoWatch ›
- As Fracking Companies Face Bankruptcy, U.S. Regulators Enable ... ›
A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.
- Under Trump, EPA Workers Seek Bill of Rights to Allow Them to ... ›
- Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel ... ›
By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
- Trump Admin Rejects CDC Reopening Guidelines - EcoWatch ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Breaks U.S. Daily Record With Over 15,000 New ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
- DNC Ignores Progressive Climate Activists - EcoWatch ›
- Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster? - EcoWatch ›
- California Makes Face Masks Mandatory to Fight Pandemic ... ›
- Here's Why COVID-19 Can Spread So Easily at Gyms and Fitness ... ›
- Hot Weather and COVID-19: Added Threats of Reopening States in ... ›
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.