Anthony Kinslow II, the founding CEO of Gemini Energy Solutions, moderated a discussion panel hosted by Career Communications Group. Introducing the seminar based on the theme “Preparing Our Communities to Address the Climate Crisis” Kinslow focused on the importance of both slowing climate change and protecting human beings from its effects.
“The devastation of unusually strong and frequent hurricanes, the winter vortex that should down Texas, the droughts across the Midwest, and fires on the West Coast, these are just the beginning if we don’t step up and make the change,” he said.
Joining Kinslow were three professional climate activists working in various capacities to fight global warming and its effects. Dr. Regan F. Patterson, transportation equity research fellow, Congressional Black Caucus; Dana Clare Reddon, founder, Solar Stewards; and retired Army Brigadier General C. David Turner, president, 3E Turner & Associate. Below are some excerpts from the conversation.
How does your work slow or protect our communities from climate change?
Dana Clare Reddon: Solar Stewards is a social enterprise that connects renewable energy markets to marginalized communities. Our program leverage private sector investments to outfit companies’ data centers and facilities with on-site solar energy, but also to buy renewable energy credits. We’re giving them the opportunity to purchase these credits in our communities so our communities can benefit from that influx of investment and we can create more resiliency hubs and distributed energy applications in our communities.
Dr. Regan F. Patterson: I conduct policy analysis and research that looks at how our inequitable transportation system prevents people from accessing resources. For instance, freeways are often routed through communities of color, particularly black communities, so we’re seeing high asthma rates and other effects in black communities. And we don’t live in walkabout cities. We’re reliant on cars. So if you don’t have a car, how do you get to a hospital? When we talk about climate change, we have to talk about transportation systems broadly and comprehensively. It’s one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, but there are co-pollutants that adversely impact our communities, and the living conditions it creates.
C. David Turner: I consult companies on water and water-related issues. For instance, I’m working with one company called Hyperloop Transportation Technology that’s trying to figure out how to [quickly] move people and supplies from one location to another underground…to go from Cleveland to Chicago in thirty minutes, for instance. It’s an energy-independent technology that works off solar and magnets. This is important because it minimizes the release of greenhouse gasses, and our water absorbs a lot of the effects of greenhouse gasses. What’s something you’re excited about at the beginning of this decade, and what’s something you find challenging? When you look at the flooding
happening along the Mississippi River or the number of extreme hurricanes in Florida, we’re really starting to see the impacts of climate change. The challenge is figuring out how to make ourselves resilient while mitigating those effects. I’m excited about President Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill—$623B set aside for transportation and infrastructure. No one knows if the bill will get through Congress, but I see that as an exciting opportunity.
How do you take that money and create climate change?
Patterson: What is exciting and challenging are two sides of the same coin to me. The exciting side is how the climate crisis is currently being addressed in a way that addresses the many intersections of climate. You’re seeing folks come at it from a racial equity perspective, an economic equity perspective, gender, sexuality, etc. All of those perspectives have been integrated into the climate movement. That brings me to why it’s also a challenge. In my work, cars have always been sites of harm in terms of health, climate, policing, etc. Livable futures require us to consider each of these problems concurrently because, again, we’re not going to have livable futures if we don’t address each of these
Reddon: I’m excited about Generation Z. Their ability to disseminate information is very impressive. I’m confident that, at some point in the future, I’ll be able to say I made my mark and can pass it on to this very capable generation that’s going to build off our work, just like we built on civil rights and environmental movements before us. The challenge is in incumbent industries and antiquated ways of thinking. Whether it’s racism or holding onto those outdated models that aren’t serving us, that’s something to overcome. It’s not just relegated to age, either. You can have an open—or closed—mind at any age.