Going Green had the chance to meet one of the most influential people in the cleantech space, having worked with some of the most powerful groups and organizations in the world. Lucy Blake, the President of the Northern Sierra Partnership. Let’s get to know Lucy better and find out what drives her passion for clean tech.
Lucy, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. To kick things off, tell us about you:
I’ve been in the environmental trenches for the past 30 years, running groups as diverse as the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Business Council, and the Apollo Alliance for Clean Energy and Good Jobs. I also served as national co-chair of Clean Tech for Obama, worked on the Obama Transition Team at the Department of Energy, and facilitated a dialogue between environmental groups, utilities and solar energy companies about where to locate large scale solar plants in California desert.
In 2000, I was honored to be selected as a MacArthur Fellow. For the last decade, I’ve been running one of the most exciting and ambitious landscape-scale conservation campaigns in the nation, the Northern Sierra Partnership with the goal of protecting and restoring the natural systems (including water) that make life in California possible.
What is a fun fact about you?
I spent most of my childhood in Africa and Europe, and came back to the US for high school. I speak fluent French and Spanish, but my French is a little rusty!
What was your motivation to get into this industry?
Earth’s natural system support all life but we have been treating them as limitless in their capacity to withstand abuse. Years ago we could have attributed our inaction to ignorance, but that is no longer possible. We have to see it for what it is: nothing less than a shameful disregard for the future of our own children and their children. Young people are enraged, and they have every right to be.
Why do you think climate change/sustainability is such an important topic today?
We are running out of time. Every other issue — literally – pales in comparison because nothing else promises to wipe out the prospects for human existence. And the poor — all over the world — will suffer the most.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
The ideas of the environmental movement — sustainability, ecological resilience, recognition of the value of all life and all life forms — are becoming more mainstream and need to become a yardstick against which all decisions are measured. This is already starting to happen but not enough. Right now businesses — and governments — are still allowed to pass off environmental costs — costs to our natural systems — as externalities. That is part of what has gotten us into this mess and it has to end. We have no time for business as usual.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
1. Retrofit your home to make it much more energy efficient and eliminate or reduce your dependence on fossil fuels.
2. Buy an electric car; they keep getting cheaper.
3. Fly less.
4. Eat less meat and buy locally produced food (not blueberries from Chile).
5. Support politicians who are leading the charge to transform our economy to a clean energy economy by eliminating ALL subsidies for fossil fuels and by creating powerful incentives for businesses, states, local governments, public institutions and individuals to make transformative investments in green infrastructure.
6. Don’t listen to the hogwash coming from the oil, gas and coal lobbies.
7. Support organizations on the front lines of climate change.
8. Enjoy and take inspiration from your fellow travelers in the fight and keep pushing!
9. Celebrate every victory, and make sure others do too.
10. If you feel overwhelmed, spend a few hours making sourdough bread.
What positive changes are you seeing?
A bigger and broader cross section of the country now recognizes climate change as real. That is the essential first step.
Going Green wants to thank Lucy for taking the time to share their experience working in clean tech.
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