Former Schwarzenegger Policy Advisor Encourages Delegates to Be 'Action Heroes' in Fighting Climate Change

Article excerpt

Terry Tamminen says the U.S. is following one of two paths in climate change--the livable path of the Hopi Native American tribe that thrives on environmental sustainability or the self destructive path of the Eastern Islanders who "consumed themselves out of existence." The environmentalist posed the question to delegates at NLC's Congress of Cities, "Which path are we heading down?"

The former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and former chief policy advisor to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed two measures that may be a clue in answering that question--researching the status of air and the shared environment. In turn, Tamminen revealed some startling facts about the two.

As an "arguably sacred resource," air is 100 percent contaminated with manmade pollutants, according to Tamminen, sending 100,000 people in the U.S. to an early death last year from preventable air pollution. And, though it can't be said that any inclement weather is a direct result of global warming, it is known that incidents such as monumental hurricanes and long-lasting heat waves are a direct result of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

"I believe [those affected] are all victims of our insistence of driving our 'living room on wheels' to take us to the supermarket, our wasteful use of electricity and our stubborn refusal to generate power with something cleaner and more sustainable than flaming chunks of coal," declared Tamminen.

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Indeed, today is the day to shape the future and set forth plans to insure children will be left with more than what previous generations inherited from their parents, Tamminen proclaimed.

To measure progress, he explained there's no better way than measuring air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because they both impact the entire nation--a country that, he said, makes up 5 percent of the world, yet is responsible for as much as half of the greenhouse gases.

"The good news is there's a growing movement to save this [from becoming a bigger] problem, motivated by a desire to redefine sustainability," Tamminen explained. "There are examples [from cities and states] that

are spearheaded by some very unlikely leaders and sometimes for some surprising reasons."

One noted example is Seattle's pledge to reduce greenhouse gases as if it were an independent country that has signed the Kyoto Protocol--the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's etiquette of diplomacy that was developed with the objective of reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change. …