Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, put it bluntly. “I believe the work we do in the next 10 years will change life on earth. Our children, the future of the environment, of wildlife, depend on what we do.” Kiernan was in Grand Rapids April 24 at Aquinas College, presenting the case on wind energy for the Wege Foundation’s Economicology event “How Wind Energy can Power a Cleaner, Stronger America.”
The auditorium, which included Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, was filled for the annual environmental event. Since 1997, the Wege Foundation has invited scientists, authors and thinkers to present a free public lecture on environmental issues and their connection to healthy economies and communities.
Kiernan emphasized five main issues to meet a national goal of 20 percent use of wind energy in the U.S. energy mix by 2030. He stressed the “extraordinary importance” of working on climate change on many levels –personal, local, state and federal. Michigan is playing a leadership role and can do more to demonstrate the importance of renewable energy, he said.
To support his call for wind energy and clean energy, Kiernan cited three reports on climate change, including a recent IPCC fifth assessment report that had these key findings:
• global temperatures are rising;
• sea levels are rising;
• rainfall patterns are changing;
• extreme weather events are increasing;
• and carbon emission in the past decade are growing faster than any preceding decade.
But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment also said the challenges can be addressed and the emissions can be mitigated with negligible impacts on the economy, he said.
Kiernan also cited findings by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which he said stated, “We are already feeling effects of climate change. The ultimate consequences could be catastrophic and that the window for effective action is quickly closing.”
The third report he referenced was from the World Economic Forum on the top 10 economic risks facing the world.
“In summary, climate change will dramatically harm life on earth, and solving it will not harm the long-term economy of either this country or others. It’s a no brainer for my perspective moving forward.”
Source: Corp! Magazine