Quantcast

How One Person Can Make a Big Difference

Climate

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.

Once you know there’s a problem, what comes next? Wei-Tai Kwok discovers that the path to solutions is best travelled with help.

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

One Simple Thing You Can Do Today to Stop Global Climate Change

Become a Climate Reality Leader: Share the Truth About Climate Change and Inspire Action

Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid: Find Out Where She Stands on Climate

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

belchonock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Coconut oil is an incredibly healthy fat.

Read More Show Less
Wesley Martinez Da Costa / EyeEm / Getty Images

By David R. Montgomery

Would it sound too good to be true if I was to say that there was a simple, profitable and underused agricultural method to help feed everybody, cool the planet, and revitalize rural America? I used to think so, until I started visiting farmers who are restoring fertility to their land, stashing a lot of carbon in their soil, and returning healthy profitability to family farms. Now I've come to see how restoring soil health would prove as good for farmers and rural economies as it would for the environment.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

Read More Show Less