Former U.S. President Bill Clinton got a warm welcome from the mixed American and Canadian audience that paid up to $175 to hear his keynote speech at the first Essex County Enviro-Expo.
The former president spoke to a nearly full house of 3,000. Citing a myriad of world challenges; hunger, water, terrorism, climate change, and global economics, Clinton said all solutions point to the development of sustainable energy on a global scale.
Few people attain a global perspective on world events as “citizen” Clinton. As a disaster relief expert, Clinton mentions a litany of environmental catastrophes, natural and man made, that have involved his personal intervention. He has seen first hand the effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunami’s and in each case he advocates opportunities to rebuild in an earth friendly and sustainable way. The plan to rebuild Haiti is such an example.
At several points in his address he reiterated that the consequences for squandering the worlds natural resources are too catastrophic to contemplate. Accelerated warming of the earth, the melting of polar caps and glaciers, and even a trend to burning garbage to generate electricity and eliminate land fills in Europe, energy use and conservation is the major hurdle for all civilization in the 21st century.
The upside to this, Clinton says, is that changing the way we produce and consume energy is the “single greatest economic opportunity since World War II.”
Clinton suggests that merely investing in energy efficiency to retrofit existing buildings alone, we will create millions of jobs and reduce up to 35 percent of our need for energy, even before getting to solar or wind. Retrofitting could eliminate the need for any new conventional coal power plants. He also also stresses that private citizens must take the lead because governments cannot be relied on to do the job.
Clinton concluded on a humorous note, “When I leave you tonight…I am going directly to Washington, D.C., to meet the secretary of state regarding an important domestic issue.”
The Enviro-Expo, sponsored by the government of Ontario, Essex Region Conservation Foundation and many private ‘green’ firms, features green technologies and is dedicated to educate and inspire environmental consciousness.
Article by Douglas Elbinger appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.
photo: Creativity+ Bill K Hamilton