Sustainability Summit 2018 Keynote with Robert Perkowitz
[Georgeann Moss]: Robert Perkowitz is founder and president of EcoAmerica which is a nonprofit that starts with people and helps build institutional leadership for climate and sustainability in America. EcoAmerica supports dozens of national organizations ranging from the American Public Health Association and the American academy of physicians to the African Episcopal Methodist Church in the National League of Cities and they build comprehensive climate programs that engage millions of people in climate solutions. EcoAmerica's core programs are Blessed Tomorrow, Climate for Health, A Path to Positive Community and Solution Generation. They are all grounded in strategic communications research convened through in person and online training available at EcoAmerica.org. So, if you will help me welcome Mr. Bob Perkowitz.
[Robert Perkowitz]: Hi everybody, thank you Georgeann Moss. I'm sorry we can't see each other, i'm sorry we can't be there in person. I think when we get to the Q&A we might be able to do some video and you can see how good i look and i can see how good all of you look.
So just a quick thing here, just a few slides on context about where we are in carbon in Texas and where Americans are in climate change, and then just a couple slides on our research and then about connecting on climate, there are two parts of it, the process part and the content part. We'll be mostly on the process part here but I will talk a little bit about content and then the process we're going to use is what we call 15 steps. I think you're going to find this all very helpful, the actual the principles that are behind this are useful if you come home late to your spouse and she gets upset with you – or he, in my case she – you know you can use a lot of these same principles to make communications in your students and to your family and to your significant other, you can use them to make them all better, it's really good stuff.
I do want to say that I think higher education and community colleges are exceptionally important in America, we did our first five years, this organization is about ten years old and for the first five years all we did almost was sustainability in higher education. We did five programs, the first one was the American college and university presidents climate commitment where we'd gotten – and all these programs are still going on today, there's about 700 colleges and universities including 22 state university systems that have committed to go climate neutral and they measure and report their emissions, they have a plan and they report publicly on their plan and their emissions every year. We always partner with a lot of organizations but we came up with the concept and the contracts and all the resources that put together this program. We run them for typically three to five years and then hand them off to partners and move onto other programs.
In community colleges we did something called the seed center which is sustainability, education and economic development and that is a workforce development program so there's a complete set of resources for developing sustainability curriculae in your school on this website. We partnered with the American Association of Community Colleges to develop it and they ran it for about the first seven years, right now it's being run by a community college in the Detroit area called Oakland community colleges is hosting it, but there's still monthly newsletters, I just put up the one from march and just a ton of resources on – right now I think there's six different topic areas, everything you would need to know, it's just a really big facilitator if you're invested in teaching people about the technical aspects of sustainability.
So let's go into the climate thing, and of course you guys are pretty familiar with what's going on, there's been a radical increase in the number of natural disasters around America, we used to average $20 to $30 billion dollars a year, the last few years we've been in the hundreds of billions of dollars and last year over $300 billion dollars, more than twice the combined federal budget for health, Medicare and education we spent on natural disasters last year and if you look at the graphs and trends, whether or not you believe in climate change you can't deny the fact that things are getting warmer, things are getting wetter, the storms are getting more severe because they track those simple little things and that's what's happening, and let me also say that we have forwarded this presentation to Georgeann Moss in a PDF version and so Georgeann Moss, however you want to circulate this, you don't have to take notes on it, we share our stuff pretty freely and so you can get a copy of this from Georgeann Moss I assume.
Of course Texas is no stranger to the issues, this is Houston, but all across the state there's been various issues in agriculture, coastal flooding, inland flooding, on and on and it's not unique to Texas but it's something that is real for Americans now. I don't know how that truck in the middle of this, how it still has its tail light on but this is just from you know six, eight months ago, and like I say Texas is getting warmer and drier, more issues with water and heat, and in cities like Dallas there's what they call the heat island effect and that's supposed to be a graphic of a heat island, but cities in particular have a tendency to absorb a lot of heat and a lot of times in for instance, Dallas can be up to 19 degrees warmer than nearby rural areas, and the actual average summer temperatures in Dallas are four degrees warmer than the surrounding areas and you have 39 days above – in Dallas – above 90 degrees more than the rural areas around you.
A lot of cities like Los Angeles, you know it sounds crazy but Los Angeles is trying to lower the temperature of their city by 15 degrees in summer, in places like Palm Springs you know that means the difference of going from 121 to 123 degrees to 100 or 105 degrees. So white roof programs, green areas, a lot of things to try to cool off cities, but so there's issues and there's ways to solve the issues. I only have one slide that's really on climate change in this whole thing and that is the U.S. global research program.
A combination of 13 agencies last fall released – they do a four-volume report on climate change in America that's mandated by congress, this is their report from last year, it's considered to be very conservative as opposed to aggressive, but you know it has all the data of everything you'd ever want to know about the technical aspects of climate change, including the fact that you know the ocean is getting more acidic and is now more acidic than any point in the last 300,000 years.
So, if you want to know about climate change, the technical aspects, and you just want one source to look at, I suggest you go to USGCRP, their quadrennial climate report. The thing that's more interesting, at least for me, is how fast solutions are scaling up in America. New global photovoltaics up 50% last year and more money was spent on solar utility scale solar than was spent on coal or natural gas or wind, so PV is scaling up really rapidly in America, around the world. There are 75,000 new solar panels every day put in in America, 58 U.S. cities pledge to go to 100% clean energy with deadlines, and then there's a whole bunch of countries right now that have announced specific dates or said that they are going to announce specific dates where they will no longer allow any petroleum cars to be sold in their country, and that includes little places like China and India, and somewhere between 2030 and 2040 China and India will not allow a single oil or gas car to be sold.
Other countries like Norway, Germany, France, have already announced dates usually ranging from 2030 to 2040, and a lot of the with the transportation as a service, Uber and all that stuff, Stanford studies disruptive technologies and they are projecting that in the united states by 2025, in seven years, that potentially all new mass market vehicles will be electric or electrified, you will not be – you might be able to still buy a hybrid but you will not be able to buy a car that just does gas or oil by 2025 and that's because of plunging battery costs, the cost of the cars will cost less and then the cost to operate them will go down by two thirds and the cost to maintain them will go down 90%. So, if you're a consumer it's just going to cost you too much money to buy a gasoline powered car that meets the performance standards of the electric cars.
So, there's a lot of things happening in the solutions world, it's very exciting. In Texas you know you guys are leaders because you're a big state overall, you're accounting for a huge amount of the shift to renewable energy. Right now, Texas is a fourth of all the wind power in the united states of America and if Texas was a country it would be number six in global wind production, and then like I say in December last, just three or four months ago, your natural gas is the number one source for electricity.
Right now, wind produces more than coal and the third thing is coal, but wind has moved up from nothing to number two as an energy source in Texas, and then you have in Texas the largest community that's powered entirely by renewable energy. It's formed by a bunch of republicans who actually, if you look at the map on the scale on the left about these are the states that have the highest percentage of their utility energy coming from renewable energies, clean energies, and you can see places like Iowa have gone from less than 15% to almost 40% of their energy right now in that state comes from wind, and then you can see the solar and geothermal ramping up as well. We look at the first wave of renewables was wind and wind is more competitive than coal or nuclear power or natural gas right now so wind is going to keep growing, but in the past three or four years solar has become even less expensive than wind.
So just about a week ago Saudi Arabia and a Japanese company called Softbay announced one single solar project that is a $20 billion dollar project that they're going to build in Saudi Arabia in the oil capital of the world, which right now that one project will have more solar capacity than all of the existing solar on the planet, it'll take them six or seven years to build it but you know Saudi Arabia is divesting from fossil fuels, and as is – like I say, the whole world is moving rapidly, all the jobs right now, there are 58,000 jobs in coal, there are over 360,000 jobs in renewable energy in America, the coal jobs are declining and the renewable energy jobs which cannot be outsourced which are almost all local, which almost all of them pay much more than minimum wage, all of those jobs are growing very rapidly.
So, the world's shifting toward renewable energy. Now where are Americans on climate change? This is every year in January the Pew Center for Research does a public policy poll and they just list all these things and they say, what are your priorities, and then they ask people, and you know it usually fits a very narrow band, in this case from 38% to 73%, but there's the top tier issues of terrorism, education and economy and health care, they're almost always up there, social security, and then there's issues like the military, immigration, budget deficit, those are what we call second-tier issues, climate change has moved solidly up into what we call a second-tier issues for Americans. 46% of them say it should be a priority for America to address climate change, and a lot of these things kind of get divvied up 'cause they put environment over on the left side, it's 62%, well if you care about clean air and clean water, the exact same things that cause climate change cause dirty air and dirty water and so you know it kind of splits it up.
If you combine the two it would even be a bigger concern for Americans. There's the other big national poll that's been going on for 20 years on what Americans think about climate change is the Gallup poll, they just do it every year in March and they're just starting to release the data from 2018 so I only have 2017, but you can see that in almost all aspects of climate change that Americans are becoming more and more concerned and they're understanding it better. A lot of people thought that even as recently as three or four years ago that climate change could be human, it might be nature.
Right now, as you can see in the bigger graph behind here the vast majority of Americans right now are shifting to understand that the pollution that they are doing contributes to climate change and you know, we've had all the scientists say that we've had a hard time getting that message to Americans but right now 71% of people understand that most scientists think that climate change is happening. So where are people, they're getting more and more concerned about climate change, this is whether or not they're a little bit – where they're skeptical or don't believe it or they're a little bit concerned or a lot concerned, and you know it's just been a question that they've been asking for about a decade.
Apparently, they did it in 2001 too, but over the past decade people have been a little bit concerned, a lot concerned, and again over the past two years there's been a big dichotomy and more and more people are becoming more and more concerned with all the floods and fires and wildfires and tornadoes, $30 billion dollar disasters that last year, I'm sure this number's going to continue to go up in 2018 because people are noticing that things are changing and it's different out there.
But still there's a lot of people, including college students, who don't get it. Now I should say that millennials probably get it on average more than any other group and they are in many cases just like they're doing with you know parkland and the guns and climate changes, a lot of young people that are very very engaged in climate change, but there's a lot of them that aren't and there's some of them that that think that climate change is a belief.
You know if you ever have a fact and then you have a belief, the belief always wins, right? And there's different ways of dealing with that, but you know there's lots of reasons to ignore climate change, you just you don't want to argue about it, you know the thing about techno-optimism, we can solve this at the end or that it's just something that they can't solve or deal with, there's you know we have lots of reports on all these different things of which groups do which and how we address – how we address climate change with, let's say pediatricians versus you know protestant ministers and I'm going to show you some of that in a little bit.
But the point here is that there's not one thing that causes people to ignore climate change, they might be like just competing priorities, they're just they're busy trying to make money to pay for their rent and put their kids through school and they're just not paying attention or they're not – that doesn't mean that they're opposed to climate change or whatever, it just means they're not active in it. EcoAmerica, like I say we do institutional leadership and public support for climate change. I don't want to spend a lot of time on this, but we go out and we go to the America's largest national institutions and we help them do climate programs. We do their resolutions, websites, webinars, guides for their members, conferences.
I'll show you a couple of examples, we right now have 39 contracts with national organizations, we do a few organizations that are not national but the thing is is that none of the work that we do has our name on it. So, if you go to the American Public Health Association you'll see, I'll show you, you have a very robust climate program, breaks it down into all the health impacts of climate change, there's fact sheets, there's infographics, there's videos, there's five continuing education credit programs. Last year the APHA has a theme for each year and the theme for 2017 was climate change, the global health challenge. Every issue of their journals, their entire conference is branded on climate change, the Global Health Challenge.
They had 420 dedicated sessions at their national conference on climate change, how it affects children, how it affects your mental health, and so you know everybody that's in public health right now understands that climate change is not only the biggest thing that's impacting people's health, according to the CEO of the American Public Health Association, he thinks that right now climate change affects people's health more than every other health condition combined, so and there's so many ways, asthma, allergy, vector borne diseases, the scope of the asthmas and allergies, the seasons have gotten 50% longer and then the area that it's covered, just as it gets warmer there's more and more pollen that comes earlier longer so there are twice as many people that are impacted by a simple thing like asthma and allergies.
We usually think of the storms and stuff but there's a lot of other ways including the mental health of people, the psychology when your town gets wiped out by a flood, that changes the personality of everybody in that town forever, and so we have published with the American Psychological Association and all of this research is on our website, a consolidated volume of everything that's known about the mental health impacts of climate change on children, communities, on you. So, and then if you do the AME Church, you know we helped them write the resolution, we've got a video.
Everybody does climate change for their own reasons, not yours or ours, they might do it to protect their community from floods, they might do it because they have creation care, they might do it because of the children and they care about the health of children, but if you want to connect with people on climate change as we'll see in a minute, the first thing is to do is to – or the second – we'll connect on common values. So, if you go to the homepage of the AME church and scroll you'll see, why is the AME church addressing climate change? You can see a video, and it's because in their particular case that the most disadvantaged communities in America are going to get hit the hardest.
It's the neighborhoods and the lower income people, the health disparities, all those things, those people are going to get crushed a lot more by climate change, and I get to Miami regularly, my daughter lives there and right now they're building little Hollands, when I say they're taking these areas of the city and they're taking a four block area by eight block area, they're raising the roads three feet and they're putting giant pumping stations there because to – you know it's Saturday at 3 pm and it's not raining and the streets are flooding, the sun is out, and so they're building a permanent suck the water out system. But I can tell you they're doing that in the most expensive neighborhoods, they're doing it where the biggest, most ritzy commercial districts are, but they are not doing it yet and they never do it in the places where homes cost less. And so so that's what – you know that's the AME church's angle on it.
This is the national league of cities, that's Clarence Anthony, the CEO in the lower right. They were not going to do a climate program because 73% of all cities in America have a republican mayor and they thought it was a political issue, and then just with the – there's just been huge changes in the last couple years now because of the impacts of cities – of climate on communities, the opportunities for sustainability and jobs, they're getting so much demand even from the republican members that they decided to make climate change a top priority for the national league of cities.
So we do the contract with them, they're at the upper right, and we build all the resources and things that they need. It takes us you know sometimes a year to negotiate the agreement and two or three years to get the whole program up because these are very large programs and this is one of only two programs that features EcoAmerica 'cause they wanted to have a partner that they could point to that knows about this stuff, and so this is – all the rest of the programs don't say EcoAmerica on them but this one does.
We do two local programs, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. This started out as path to positive Los – I mean salt lake city, then it became path to positive greater salt lake city, and there's been so much interest in it that now it's back to positive Utah, and you know the biggest – let me just say that salt lake city and the surrounding area as of about a year ago was basically 100% coal and they have announced that they're going to go eliminate all coal in 15 years and go to 100% renewable energy, and they're able to do that because you just looked at the numbers and they can build solar for .03 cents a kilowatt hour, they can build it in a year or two, it doesn't pollute, and then they have coal which if they're lucky they can get it in at .08 or .09 cents, it's going to pollute, requires a lot more infrastructure to truck in and trade in the coal, yadda yadda yadda, you know you just look at it on paper and it just makes so much sense that you know, why are we polluting our beautiful valley with mountains on both sides so we can't even see across the valley, or we can take all of that – so 15 years from zero renewables to 100%, and they're getting helped by Rio Tinto and Goldman Sachs and all the big companies and all the big utilities, it's a giant effort, and then the whole state is following and we're helping them with that program, and they are about to announce – when I say about, for me that's six months – they are about to announce the first community electrification program and they're going to try to get 80% of all their cars, including the older cars, to be electric cars powered by electricity by 2035.
So, you know they're going to be the first large city that has a program that – like Paris has said by 2030 they will not allow any petroleum cars in the boundaries of the city of Paris, and a lot of cities in the world are doing those kind of programs. Salt Lake City will be the first city in America I think that announces an electrification of transportation program. Okay, you guys are educators, you guys have students, and there's about 21 – 22 million kids in higher education in America, half of them are in community colleges.
What's amazing about it is that you guys shape people's lives and they go through school, they go in and they learn, they learn how to learn, they learn values, they make friends. The most definitive experience in many people's lives is going through their higher education thing so that's one of the reasons why we've been so heavily involved in it is because it's so important, and so you have an opportunity here, that the thing is if you say there's 3 million nurses, great, well there's no rotation.
The amount of people that cycle through community colleges is huge and the influence of the community colleges on students is amazing and that's why I – you know we're not doing any higher education programs at the moment. The president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' board of directors used to have a lot of ties because of all the work we've done, but I think it's so important and so great what you guys are doing to try to get more informed and better connect on climate change and that's what we do. We produce a lot of research, and on the left side of your screen is what we call process research, in the middle of your screen is what we call content research.
So there's two things to keep in mind when you're talking about climate change, one of them is is that there are the four best reasons, and there are words to use and not to use and there's just all kinds of statements and we do this – our let's talk series of guides, we do – we hire cognitive linguists, we hire focus group firms, we hire polling firms, and you'll see the methodology in the inside couple of pages to go through and find out, you know if you're going to talk to people of faith what do you actually say? Do you talk about creation care or do you talk about stewardship or do you talk about justice?
We sort all that stuff out and we publish it and so there's five of those guides on our website right now. On the left side is the process stuff, and we started doing this with Columbia University, the center for research and environmental decisions up there, you know how do you really – and that when I say that the messaging techniques that we have surfaced are useful for a lot of other things. There's been a lot of academics and we synthesized all the research that is out there on communicating on climate to see what works.
We got the big guide which is the connecting on climate guide which you might not want to go to, there's a couple, 300 footnotes in it, there are 80 – 90 pages of stuff, but if you want the if you want the easy stuff it's the 15 steps guide and that's what we're going to talk about today. On the right side is talking points. Right now, every month – or sometimes we skip a month – we issue talking points, like the one that came out today is talking points on clean energy, researched things about what you say, and the backside is counterpoints.
When somebody says renewable energy is intermittent and it's not dependable, what do you say? So, all that stuff we produce for all of these many partner organizations so they know how to talk about climate change in general, the middle points, and then specific issues, the talking points on the right. I just want to pause for a second Georgeann Moss and say can everybody hear me, is everything okay, am I going too fast?
[Georgeann Moss]: I think you're doing a great job, we can all hear you and thank you for asking.
[Robert Perkowitz]: Okay, interrupt me anytime Georgeann Moss if you want. Okay, so connecting on climate, the first thing to realize is that when people figured out climate change they said we're all going to die and came up with what we call the Armageddon documents, sea level rise, floods, fires, death of the polar bears, and prior to 2008 we all used the word global warming and we all talked about dying.
Then when 2008 with the Obama Administration said, we are not going to use the word climate – global warming anymore, we're going to call it climate change, and we're not going to talk about the destructive things, we're going to talk about the benefits of addressing climate change, the opportunities.
Then the world changed, like for me it was like I don't know, whiplash, that we changed from global warming to climate change and all the social benefits, and that was I think a good change but especially back then when there was very little wind and solar you know people thought, green jobs, but I'm never going to get one and you know I'm not really sure about that national defense thing and help, I don't know if I get that either, and now when you watch the a lot of the world drying up and people like in Syria moving into cities and no jobs and you know all of the impacts globally, not just – are being felt, so by addressing climate change there clearly are benefits. If you have wind, if you – when you're in Texas, you've got a lot of oil and stuff but if you were in North Carolina where I lived for 16 years, that one state exported $50 billion dollars a year to buy oil, and if they had renewable energy for two thirds of that with the multiplier effect they could've grown their economy 3% - 4% a year better and so there's the direct benefits of going to renewables but the indirect benefits on health and economy and stuff are huge.
So anyway there's a lot of benefits, but people don't get them, it's abstract, it's big, and so what we are right now talking about is what we call personal relevance of climate change and how it impacts – or in your cases, Texas, your schools, students, your communities, whenever you talk about climate change that's what you should be talking about. So, the whole concept of personal relevance is we basically do it in five different principles. One thing is that it has to be salient, it has to be things that people can see with their own eyes, the flooding and the temperature changes, the changes in agriculture, declining aquifers, it has to be things that people just see and feel and they can't they can't argue it.
The second thing that you always have to do is you have to say that there are solutions for your community and the world. If you don't present solutions powerfully then what people think it's like, it's like a flood in Bangladesh or a war in Syria or something, you know it's really bad and all these people are getting kicked out, but there's nothing I can do about it, and so people are always told there's nothing that they can do about climate change but the truth of the matter is it's probably the only thing that you can do something about almost every minute of every day of your life.
Now the choices that you make for how you – if you do active transportation as opposed to driving a car, the kind of car you drive, the kind of food you eat, whether or not you turn off the lights, what's in your light switch, what kind of conversation you have to the person next to you after this thing, almost everything, how you educate and talk to your students about that, almost everything that you do can have an impact on climate change and it is – I couldn't have said this five years ago, but it's eminently clear when whole countries are going 100% renewable and stopping the pollution that we can do that.
The third thing to realize is you know of course it's personal relevance so it's personal, but it's always tribal engagement. People generally do not make decisions as individuals because the world is big and complex, we'll go into this in a couple of slides, they make it by a group so if you're in a community college my guess is that you know 70% of the people feel one way about every issue, it's never 50-50.
From a certain type of company, they might be 90% thinking that fossil fuels are great or it could be 90% of them think that renewable energy is great, but they do it by tribes, by faith, by their occupation, by their families. We engage with the world and get our values from tribes. The fourth thing is agency and empowerment, that you can do something about it, and the fifth most important thing is that there is a moral imperative to act, and if you don't you're doing a disservice to your communities and your families.
So let me get into some specifics here right now, you have this guide that's called 15 steps to effective communication on climate change and these steps work whether you're typing a letter to the editor, if you're making a speech, if you're talking to a politician, if you're just having lunch in a restaurant, no matter what these steps if you put them in there, and 15 sounds like a lot but you know again a whole bunch of this is just makes sense, background stuff on communicating that we forget because you get emotional about a belief issue.
If anybody challenges your beliefs you get upset and then you forget about just like, well you know, that person is – we're not all the same, we should respect each other, we all have rights, we all have differences, and listening to other people's differences can be a huge strength, but when you get emotional about it you don't – you forget all your communications principles and you contribute to problems. By the way that's me on the lower right-hand picture, on the lower right thing talking to some politicians with the hands on the chair, so now you know what I look like. So, we take the 15 steps and we build them into three different sections, and rather than go through them all right now I'm just going to go through them as I hit the slides.
But the first thing is start with people, stay with people. It's about people, it is not about polar bears, it's not about 2030, it's about what's happening today and their perspectives. So, we do a lot of research to try to figure out what people think. This slide was used at a health presentation, but it says tangible and relevant health concerns, but it's tangible and relevant student concerns for you. Everything you talk about should relate to students and communities, and you start with people, move to climate.
Connect on common values, you know you can see all these things in the presentation that I'm trying to give, I talk about Texas, I show you what we've done in higher education, you know that – I mean and I really do believe and I think you know higher education is the great equalizer and a great opportunity and I think we should be spending twice as much money on higher education as we – on all education as we do. I think it would solve our social problems, our economic problems, so I'm connecting on common values because I have common values.
Sometimes like if you were a – if I was talking to accountants I'd try to figure out how to connect on common values with them but I might not quite share them, just you know I don't think I disagree with them, I just don't have them.
But you know so you've got to figure out what your students care about, what your communities care about, understand those, write down the top four or five and then build your talking points that connect with them. Third thing, and this is again useful for everything is what you call acknowledge ambivalence.
That doesn't mean to say that you have doubt or that nobody knows, it means that some people are more concerned about climate change than others, some people you know and if you just say that, and I can tell you from 10,000, 20,000 dial tests, that if you just go and you talk definitively, like I know about climate change and I'm going to tell you, you will turn off the environmentalists, you'll turn off what we call the deniers, the skeptics, you'll turn off everybody.
But with everything that you say if you give people space in the room and say that hey, you know some of you think this and some of you think that, and then what you'd say is you know, but from what I can see around us that there are more floods, we've got 300 floods in the past five years, my parents never had one, my grandparents never had one, my parents had one, I've had seven in my life. Things are changing, and then so you have to make it real, and then pivot quickly to solutions – let's see here, that's the next one, okay.
So and solutions are – the first thing here is co-benefits. All the pollution in the ocean, they talk about these giant islands of plastic pollution in the ocean, guess what that plastic is made of? Okay, when you talk about asthma, allergy, global warming, polluted air, polluted water, guess what all that comes from? One thing, burning stuff, comes from – well in class it'd come from converting the oil to plastic, but all of the other impacts that we call pollution basically come from burning stuff and the solution is stop burning.
If we just stop burning stuff or you know you would not take a lump of coal and put it on the desk in front of you and light it and go through this meeting because you understand that, but you know if you say ah, there's a giant coal plant and it's you know 30 miles away by the side of the mountains it's causing the same amount of damage as that little bit of coal, but if you get rid of it your kids are healthier and benefits happen really quickly. You know when you watch what's going to happen in Salt Lake City, they're going to have a fourth, a fifth of the admissions for asthma and allergies and air pollution, admissions to hospital, in 20 years as they have right now.
They're going to take care of a whole health issue. Rivers and streams that you cannot put your kids in, you would not go swimming in, you stop burning stuff, that thing is going to clean itself up in a maximum of 15 years all by itself and you're going to be able to go swimming in it, the mud at the bottom of the river will turn back into the plants that used to grow there, animals would come back.
So, there's a lot of solutions that – you know the solutions of climate change provide a lot of benefits. Inspire and empower, I only had one slide in here on the negative implications of climate change, I could talk about that for an opportunity or for a long time, for an hour, but the fact of the matter is you know people turn off when you talk about doom and gloom so you have to focus on opportunities, you have to focus on making a difference.
The third, the last point here is that America can lead on climate, of course we can, we've led on everything, it's a choice, we are making a choice right now to let China and the rest of the world build the windmills, build the solar panels, do everything. Yes, they're subsidizing their industries, but that's because they know that in 20 years from now China's going to have 8 million people working in the solar panel industry up from zero 20 years ago, right? So, we should be doing the same thing, we're better at it when we put our minds to it.
Like with the tech industry, America's better than anybody at anything and we can lead, so we need to focus on that. And then the personal benefits, the personal relevance. You know, the things that cause climate change cause personal injury to you, and if in your family like if you do what we call active transportation, if you ride to the grocery store instead of taking a car, you will be healthier as soon as you get home than if you had driven that car. If you eat foods, if you eat a healthier diet that has more plants in it you will be healthier than if you don't. If you turn off your lights you will lower the cost of energy in your house. So almost everything that you do personally to address climate change has a benefit for you and your family.
You can spend the money on vacations, you can spend the money on other stuff instead of burning your money, so you have to emphasize benefits. We always say that when you get done with that people are all kind of confused, what do they do? And so what we try to do is provide – tell tell like if you're talking to students, what do you do? Well you know here's some simple little things you can do that'll make a difference right away, use reusable water, but there's bigger things that you can do that go – there's a spectrum from very easy to it takes a little bit of effort to replacing your water heaters and insulating your house that might take a little more work. But you should always ask and tell people what to do at the end. So, I don't think it's here yet, there's a little point number nine in the middle is sequence matters, and I just want to emphasize that for a minute because it does.
If you do those build rapport things, those four things in the order of – really the first five things on this, you have to do those in order. You should not you know make climate change real first and emphasize solutions, then connect on common values. I can tell you from just like all these times tested, it doesn't work, sequence matters.
Describe but don't label, there are six principles here and I put them all in one slide so we could have more time for Q&A, but describe don't label. If you say alternative energy, nobody knows what that is, if you say renewable energy, not sure what that is, but if you say hey, we want clean air, clean energy from the sun and wind that is always available and I say and it's basically free once we build it, you know people know clean energy from wind and sun, they don't know what alternative energy is.
Trust the messengers like the American Public Health Association, we've talked – ditched doom and gloom, provide benefits, opposite sides, empower people opposite sides of the same story, people remember stories from the history of humanity. If you can turn it into local stories, you know I'm the second generation of people that have farmed on this land and this – if you turn it into a story people remember that a lot more than just facts. A lot of people get confused about climate change and they say you know, what if your student says oh, solar flares, or you know something like that, a lot of people aren't comfortable addressing the technical things of climate change, then you should just say hey, you know some people, there's a lot of reasons why people don't believe in climate change, there's a lot of reasons why they do, but from what I can see when you look at every scientific organization, every university in America, every health care association in America, they all say it's real and that it's a problem and we really need to address it, and if they – if you are worried about solar flares then we can look that up and try to research it more, but you know I have a tendency to think that it's the whole world isn't addressing it because it's a fake issue.
Message discipline is following these rules or these guides to the extent that you just you know, and you should do whatever way you feel best and trust, but you know when we teach people we tell them come up with your talking points, like if your school comes up with your three part plan for addressing climate change and these six different points and why they're doing it, to the extent that you can stay on message will help people anchor with what you're doing. Now just two or three slides left, San Diego's a community we work with a lot. Their brochure four or five years ago on climate change where San Diego's climate change – changing climate wakeup call 2030, if our current trends continue we're all going to die.
I mean they literally did everything wrong here that you could imagine. It's negative and now they switched to you know 2050 is calling, how will we answer? It's all about people, you know there's little facts about – on the right side of the page, little statistics, people agree, what people are doing, leaders, the whole thing is about their community standing up to climate change and they are doing it, they have pledged to go 100% clean energy and they're a national leader and they've gone from basically doing very little I'm going to say eight years ago on climate change to – you know it doesn't take a long time once you get things right, but this is just an example. I do want to say that in the different guides, we provide examples of how to do it.
So, this is a speech that has all the 15 steps and how they're embedded into a speech, so you can see how they're embedded and you should try it yourself, and then my last slide here is that later on this month in Dallas you're going to have the largest environmental – city environmental festival operation in America by far.
Earth Day Texas, they're changing I think the name to EarthX, is huge. People come from all over the world and all over the nation to spend a few days in booths, if you want to learn how to do wind and solar, do whatever you do, I have to tell you that Dallas, Texas, if we could replicate what you guys are doing with Earth Day Texas, a little guy by the name of Trammell Crow is the energy force behind the whole thing, if we could all do that America would move further faster.
So that is the end of my presentation, like I say all our sector based programs and our stuff is available online and I'm going to escape this presentation and you might be able to see me, I don't – I see the LeCroy center but I don't see a video feed, but for the discussion at least you might be able to see me if this works right and I have technical support to help me if it doesn't.
[Georgeann Moss]: Thank you so much, Bob. The reason you can't see us is because when they hooked up the camera it was reverberating really badly, so we have a very handsome group of people here and you would really enjoy looking at them but maybe we can invite you down in person sometime because that was an excellent presentation and this is a sustainability training but once a year we have what's called conference day where everyone in the district gets together and hopefully some day we can have you maybe do a keynote at conference day, so – and I did just want to say that DCCCD is a sponsor of EarthX and we are going to have a wonderful exhibit there called sustainable you and it's all about positivity and what you can do and one person makes a difference and simple changes you can make, and so we wish you were going to be here Bob, so you could stop by and meet with us. But right now, we'd like to open it up for questions, so what questions do you have for Bob? Okay, Antoine?
[Antoine]: You said that you haven't worked with schools yet but what's your goal towards getting – working with schools, like what's your strategy to approach that?
[Robert Perkowitz]: Strategy for working with schools, like community colleges?
[Robert Perkowitz]: Okay, well like I say, from when we started this thing in 2007 until 2009 that's pretty much all we did, and we decided that we had to help them actually address climate change which is the president's climate commitment, we decided that they had to – we actually took a look at it and we said we want to get students coming into college, we want to get students when they're in college and we want to do students when they're getting out of college. So to get students when they were coming in we worked with the Princeton Review and now every single college in America is ranked on the institutional way that they're addressing climate change and on student quality of life, and if you look at page 9 or 11 depending on where it is this year it will say that EcoAmerica addressed or developed these systems, and we did that so that admissions offices could help and then students and parents, when they're looking to schools, so when you look at ranked schools there they're all in there. So we got them when they're going in, and then when they're in there we worked on the curriculum with the seed center, we worked on actually helping them grow green with the president's climate commitment, and then when we – we also had this thing called solution generation which was an awards program for colleges and universities that were going sustainable and engaging students, and then on the way out we partnered with monster.com and they have something called green careers and we set up all the criteria so that when students were looking for jobs – so we have approached higher education in a very comprehensive way to help people address climate change.
[Georgeann Moss]: Yes, and I just – this is Georgeann Moss again and I just want to mention that I did not realize until I saw this program what a tremendous effect you've already had on DCCCD because all of our college presidents have signed the president's climate commitment, we're members of seed, we've been using your communication guides for years, so it's really exciting to know that this all came out of one very collaborative organization, so thank you. I think we had another question over here?
[audience member]: How does one – does one have to register for the conference, do you just go, and what happens there?
[Georgeann Moss]: Oh, EarthX? EarthX is a three-day extravaganza, if you go to EarthX.org and you could actually – if you pre-register online you can get in for free, otherwise it's $5, this is the first year they've ever charged admission, however, students and higher education – or students and teachers can get in free, also there's lots of different ways to get in free. But it's very hard to describe, it's in – imagine the state fair, you know how big it is and how many buildings and how much stuff is going on at the state fair, imagine if that is all different engaging things having to do with the environment. They have conferences, they have exhibits, they have vendors. We're going to have a big huge whale right in front of the fountain on the esplanade, our exhibit is going to be on the esplanade facing that big whale so in front of the automobile building. We're going to promote it to employees in the employee newsletter so you can look for it there, but also the best way is to go to their website, EarthX.org, and then to sign up to be on their list because they're going to start sending information daily. They have lots of dinners and things that you can sign for, and if you want to go let me know 'cause since we're a sponsor we've got a discount code, you can get 50% off so most of the dinners are like $100, you can get them for $50, and I particularly want to go see – I can't remember his first name, Shultz, the very conservative man who is promoting the idea of carbon fee and – Bob, can you help me with his first name?
[Robert Perkowitz]: George Shultz.
[Georgeann Moss]: George Shultz, former Secretary of State. John Kasich is going to be there, Sylvia Earl who is an earth oceans – Buzz Aldrin, it's going to be fantastic.
[Maria Boccalandro]: Yeah, I had a question. I had the fortune in January to be at your office in Washington D.C. since we're part of the national council for science and the environment, my name is Maria Boccalandro, I am the sustainability director at Cedar Valley College, and I was very impressed with what EcoAmerica is doing beyond the campus, and as a community college our chancellor is all about not only satisfying the needs of the students but also the community and the businesses and so we've gotten to a place where we have expertise in doing our climate actions plan, we calculate our greenhouse emissions, our faculty are incorporating sustainability in the community. So, my question is, the projects, I saw like a map of the united states, I saw that there was one near us with the community, I'd like to pick your brain, what is the role you see community colleges beyond the campus as –
[Robert Perkowitz]: Well you know when we did the Seed Center we put together guides for the presidents and the guides for the presidents was one, how do you engage the campus, right? How do you engage the faculty, how do you engage students, what are the best tips for that? We put together another guide which is probably still on that website about how you engage the community, and you know you touch every business within a long distance of where your community college is, and to the extent that you can bring in speakers from the community that are doing things in sustainability and they can talk to students at assemblies or classrooms or clubs, you know if you can bring people in and talk to them then it kind of makes it real and tangible. The other thing is that apprentice programs, training programs, field trips, getting the students out into the world to see this stuff happening makes it real and undeniable, and then you know community colleges like I say, workforce development, you know you can be very sensitive to the workforce development needs of the upcoming clean energy economy, the emerging clean energy economy, I think you can – now it's a chicken and egg thing, you know you want to teach kids like from the seed center how to do energy audits, how to analyze the sun and stuff so they can be a solar – somebody that goes out and sells and quotes on solar energy systems and you know micro, hydro and all the different subject areas. But I think a third thing you can do is make sure that you have a curriculum that is relevant for the community around you, and then like I said there's other things you can do just in class that embedded into what you do so that when the students learn and they go out to the community, when they go to their community center, their church or their hospital or whatever quote unquote tribe they belong to, that they feel a little bit more comfortable thinking about and talking about sustainability, you know that's another way of affecting communities.
[Georgeann Moss]: Yes, ma'am.
[Speaker B]: When I walk into my class on Monday, what should I say to them about what – where do I start with them?
[Robert Perkowitz]: Well I heard that, you know like the question is, let me just ask you know you guys a couple questions. So like if you take all your students and you say there's three categories, people who strongly deny climate change, are very skeptical about it, people who really think it's an issue and it's important, and then there's a group of people in between. So, if you take the students in your schools, is it 20% deniers, 15%, 20%, where are your students at?
[Georgeann Moss]: Okay let me do – yeah let me do this, so I'll take a quick poll and first of all if you'll say – how would I do that? If the majority of your students are deniers, believers or in the middle?
[Speaker B]: In the middle.
[Georgeann Moss]: Okay, so let me say – so let me have shown a raise of hands, who thinks the majority of your students are deniers, raise your hand. Not a hand raised. Who thinks the majority of your students are in the middle? Okay thank you, and who thinks the majority of your students are believers? Okay, we all have one hand on that, so the majority of the people in the room think that their students are in the middle and we've had lots of conversations about this. Community college students especially are busy, they're usually working, many of them have full-time jobs, not even part time jobs but full-time jobs, they're very busy, they've got a family they're taking care of, they're trying to get an education, and they just don't have a lot of spare time so we have talked about the fact that sometimes it's difficult to get people's time and attention to try to engage them. So, does that help?
[Robert Perkowitz]: Yeah, so a lot of Americans, especially in rural areas, are more skeptical about climate change in other areas because they're more conservative people, it's a new thing, it's not bad that they are and they're all good people but they just you know – and so, well first thing that I would say is that you shouldn't make a big deal about it. You shouldn't go out there and say climate change is the biggest thing in the whole world and we all got to go and address it. We tell people to assume the problem and then just work on solutions, and so that's like in my presentation, we had one slide on climate change on all these bad things that are going to happen, and then so I would say if you go in there you should think it through and you should say what do these students care about and how can I embed it in there? If I'm teaching science, if I'm teaching shop, if I'm teaching auto mechanics, how do I just – what are three or four ways of just embedding it into my curriculum, into some papers they might read, helping them prepare for the future? So, I would say the first thing is embed it, second thing I would say is lead by example, okay if you really think it's an issue don't by a ford F-350 pickup truck. Now I understand a lot of people need ford and if you need it 'cause that's your work, that's your livelihood, that's what you got to do, but you know if you display values, those things, whether it's active transportation, eating, if you put solar panels up on your house, if you buy a renewable energy from one of your great wind suppliers, you know if you do – so I would say embed it gently, lead by example and then you can do special things like the school can do, like what Georgeann Moss and all of you guys are doing right now, you can do forums and assemblies that just make it an opportunity to learn more about it. So, I would do the 15 steps, I would go to the content guides that we have, like especially the general let's talk climate guide and say what are the best messages, educate yourself a little bit and then just start building it into your thing, and two or three years from now everybody around you will build it into their lives as well.
[Georgeann Moss]: Thank you, we've got another question.
[Speaker C]: I actually have a comment if it's appropriate.
[Georgeann Moss]: Sure.
[Speaker C]: One of the things that I think we overlook with respect to connection about sustainability, particularly in Texas, is erosion control and water. I have the benefit of having grown up in an agriculture environment, I lived in both metropolitan as well as rural areas of Texas, and one thing that we don't emphasize in my opinion quite as much as we might is the reality that our lakes are filling up, they get dirt in them, and the more our lakes build up the less reservoir we have to sustain our cities, and that's an issue that every citizen in Texas needs to be aware of and an opportunity for us who are interested in sustainability to talk with our students about, not only conservative use of water but also managing erosion. Just an idea.
[Georgeann Moss]: Excellent point. I used to work for Dallas Water Utilities and they appreciate you saying that, because it's very very expensive to deal with that problem, so thank you.
[Speaker C]: I have a gully across my lot so it's very pertinent.
[Georgeann Moss]: You know and again, they were talking about when you're talking about this issue making it personal to people, here's how it personally matters to me.
[Speaker C]: Yes, and water sustainability is relevant to everybody who lives in the state of Texas. It has been for 30 years.
[Georgeann Moss]: Absolutely, absolutely. There are more water rights – people have – entities have more water rights in the Trinity River which is where we get our supply than there are – than there is water in the Trinity River, so if everyone started activating all of their rights at the same time there would not be enough water in it, so. Jimmy, you had a question?
[Robert Perkowitz]: Hi, Jimmy.
[Jimmy]: Hey okay, so I was thinking about things that I do in my life and one of the biggest changes that I made was I left a job to come and work for the LeCroy Center, so I – the reason that that's significant is that I changed from a one hour commute from north Dallas to Arlington, Texas, and I changed it into a 5 to 10 minute commute, and I was wondering what is being done as far – I mean has Dallas and probably other – obviously other metropolitan areas are commuter cities or there's a ton of commuters, and especially here we've got a huge influx of people from other states coming in. What's being done to change our commuter society? Is there anything being done to change that?
[Robert Perkowitz]: I would say that – well first of all, by changing your commute and saving an hour, let's just say it's an hour, might be more like an hour and a half a day, an hour a day is 250 hours a year, there's 40 hours in a work week, you just added six weeks of time to your life to read, to play with your kids, to do whatever you want to do, that's what I'm talking – and at the same time you have done a huge benefit for the environment no matter what and so that's an example of doing things that help the environment, help nature, and provide great personal benefits. Now when you talk about the other side of the question, what's being done about it, the first thing I think you have to get is that 18-year-old kids when I was growing up, 85% of 18-year-old kids had driver's licenses. Right now, it's just 50%, okay. Students are changing, they're going much more into the metropolitan areas. If you look at the cities in America there are cranes all over the place and they're building, some of that is population growth but even more of it is young people, millennials, under 40-year-old people moving into urban areas. They're not buying cars, they're not getting driver's licenses, they're using Uber and Lyft, they understand intuitively that why should I spend $1,200 a year for car insurance and $1,500 a year for gas and I'm spending $4,000 a year to drive a car, I can do Uber every day to and from work for $500 and have $3,500 more to party with or whatever I'm going to do. So, I think that like I say, these shifts, we don't realize it but they are happening around us all the time and I'm sure they're happening in Dallas in the same ways they're happening in other cities. So that's you know like in terms of addressing it with kids and what do they do and what do you do, it's happening, you just have to just keep making it real.
[Georgeann Moss]: Okay, the last question Bob.
[Speaker D]: Yes, what has been done with textbooks, what have they done with textbooks I'm trying to ask.
[Georgeann Moss]: Okay so are you asking about incorporating sustainability into textbooks?
[Speaker D]: Yeah.
[Georgeann Moss]: Okay, he wants to know if you know any textbook companies that are incorporating sustainability or what you're doing with that.
[Robert Perkowitz]: Well we are not working with – we used to work with Pearson and we did a lot of work with them I'm going to say eight or ten years ago, largest textbook publisher in the world, British company, and publishes a lot of American textbooks, but you know for the last six or seven years we haven't really done anything there. You know where it comes out is in social sciences, in any of the physical and natural sciences you know, there's and it's embedded into the books. If you have – I would say catch this in 2007, there were about six colleges and universities that had a program in sustainability, had courses, official courses in sustainability. Right now, there's I want to say thousands, it's almost hard to find colleges and universities that are not training people in various stuff and so there are textbooks out there. There are two like I know, like if you say climate and health for anybody that's going in health education, I know that there's two textbooks in that and my guess is there are textbooks in all the other areas, I just don't know about them.
[Georgeann Moss]: Well and also to a point you made earlier Bob, DCCCD is in the process of developing a program called sustainability scholar program and it's a voluntary program, faculty can volunteer to participate and what they do is agree to incorporate sustainability into their class, you know they really don't have to do anything but figure out within their discipline how it ties back to sustainability, and since we use the 17 sustainable development goals as our teaching and learning framework it's very easy, you know there is no discipline that does not tie back to sustainability. So, we are taking your good advice on that and we hope to have a good report for you in the next couple of years after we kick this off. So, we really appreciate you being with us today, we've come to the end of our time, thank you so very much and let us give Bob a hand. And we look forward to having you with us in person someday so we will be in touch, thank you thank you thank you. It was excellent.
[Robert Perkowitz]: Thank you, and Georgeann Moss, thanks for all your leadership and all of you for your leadership as well. I do hope to get down there, I'm trying to get down there for Earth Day Dallas, for EarthX, maybe we'll see you then.
[Georgeann Moss]: Oh, good yes, wonderful. Thank you and thanks Austin, bye bye y'all.
[Robert Perkowitz]: Bye.