Earth Day is April 22. What will you be doing to make sure you do your part to take care of our precious planet? genConnect environmental experts Jeff Klein and Sam Wyly share their wisdom on how we can better sustain Earth’s resources, and what messages they want to spread this Earth Day. Below is Sam Wyly’s response. Click here to read what Jeff Klein has to say.
In a chapter of entrepreneur Sam Wyly’s book, 1000 Dollars and an Idea, Wyly talks about his “greening” – how at a certain point in his life and career, “he wanted to join the battle, not just as an activist, but in the world he knew best, as an entrepreneur.” Wyly, who is now a one of the leading billionaires in the green movement, knew real solutions would only come from innovative businesses, just as they always had.
That point came when his youngest daughter, Christiana – then 11 years old and now an environmental activist herself - asked him: “What are you going to do about all these toxins being dumped into the air?”
Although Wyly drove a hybrid Prius, recycled at home and work, and even insulated his Aspen home with blue jeans, he wanted to do something more. That led him to start Green Mountain Energy in 1997 to deliver cleaner power, particularly in those states which had deregulated their utility markets. Wyly details the challenges to making such an environmentally friendly business succeed, particularly on determine the value they would place on “going green.”
Here’s a portion of the chapter:
The third issue—perception—was about educating consumers. Many people believe there is no man-made pollution problem, and that global warming, if it is really going on at all, is part of a natural cycle. So why spend even a nickel more on electricity? Wyly’s answer was that the low cost of ‘dirty electricity’ was an illusion; a big lie that we tell ourselves.
Like smoking cigarettes, where the real costs include personal and public healthcare costs, coal-generated power has what economists call ‘externalities,’ costs that really aren’t paid by a single consumer in a monthly electric bill. The real bill must include the cost for all the damage to people on the planet caused by pollution, and the butcher’s bill grows by the day. Wyly found that once people saw the real costs for dirty electricity, the epiphany often converted them. But winning this battle of ideas and evidence felt like fighting a world war door by door.
What Is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, when Americans all over the country helped officially launch the modern environmental movement. Subsequent federal laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and others helped place increased focus on the importance of taking care of our environment and everything living in it, according to The Earth Day Network (EDN), which works with more than 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year.
This year, Earth Day 2012 will be organized around the theme of A Billion Acts of Green – a campaign aimed at building personal, organizational, governmental and corporate commitments to live and act sustainably.
People are becoming frustrated with the failure of governments to take sufficient steps toward protecting and preserving the environment, says EDN. The Earth Day 2012 campaign is designed to provide people with the opportunity to unite their voices in a call for a sustainable future and direct them toward quantifiable outcomes, using vehicles such as petitions, the Billion Acts of Green campaign, and events.
Earth Day 2012 will act as a launching pad for growing the environmental movement and will put forth a bold declaration demanding immediate action to secure renewable energy for all and a sustainable future for our planet. The movement will call upon local, national, and international leaders to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies, embrace renewable energy technology, improve energy efficiency, and make energy universally accessible.
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