Wednesday, January 22, 2020
John Kerry to Kids-Democracy Has No Autopilot
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John Kerry's World War Zero will try to educate audiences who currently may not think that the climate crisis conversation is relevant to their lives.
 
Sunday, December 29, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Former Secretary of State John Kerry challenged Wood River Valley youth on Thursday to roll up their sleeves to save the planet from climate change.

Kerry, who owns a second home in Sun Valley, talked for a half-hour with 30 high school and middle school students at Ketchum’s Community Library in a conversation moderated by Lindsay Mollineaux, the new executive director for the Environmental Resource Center.

Kerry described how he had watched the Larsen Ice Shelf break off in Antarctica. Now, we’re seeing instability that would mean meters of sear rise.

 
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Students talked about their concerns with John Kerry at Ketchum's Community Library on Thursday.
 

He noted that entire villages are having to be moved in the Arctic and that methane is being unleashed—more damaging than CO2.

“So, more heat, more moisture in the air, more extreme storms, more flooding. This is not fiction,” he said. “A lot is at stake here, my friends. Miami is having to pump water out. And you saw the flooding that happened in Venice just this past week. And because of our lack of governance, we’re losing 200 species a day.”

 What if he’s wrong? Kerry asked. The worst thing that could come up an effort to battle climate change is cleaner air and better health.

“But we have these that prevail against us. They’re more interested in disinformation, than solving things,” he said.

 
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Lindsay Mollineaux,a Wood River Valley native who served as assistant economist at the Federal Reserve and deputy chief analytics officer for the City of New York, listens as John Kerry talks about the power of youth to effect change.
 

Kerry noted he was not much older than many of those in the room when he began working for the first Earth Day in 1970 upon returning from the Vietnam War. Twenty million Americans turned out of their homes advocating for the environment. And they voted seven of the 12 congressmen labeled the Dirty Dozen for their votes against the environment out of office.

Those who remained in office recognized that the American public did care about the environment and that led to President Richard Nixon signing laws protect clean water, air and more.

Even then, Kerry lamented, those against noted that, “You don’t have to win. You just have to create doubt.” That strategy carried over into the tobacco wars and, now, climate change, he added.

Kerry told the youngsters that they have power in the choices they make. He, for instance, is transitioning to an electric car. And, he said, Congress needs to assist those who can’t afford an electric car so everyone can buy one. And every community needs to build out charging stations.

 
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Students not only had a private conversation with John Kerry but listened to him as he talked to a library audience in what the library's executive director Jenny Emery Davidson called a defining issue of our time.
 

He added that he just built a new home in Massachusetts with an array of solar panels.

“I’ve got a solar app on my phone that tells me how much energy I’m making. I’m being paid for the power my solar produces.”

 Kerry stressed that the future lies in hands of youth, adding that 18-year-olds serve on the board of World War Zero. Those who enlist in the war will be provided period text updates on their cell phones.

“I work with students and students are inspiring to me because they’re ready to do the work. Look at what young people have done around the world on climate change—it’s had an impact.”

That said, Kerry noted that just 19 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 25 voted in 2016. In 2018 that number rose to 31 percent.

“But that still means that 69 percent of those who could have voted decided not to vote. The total turnout was 55.6 percent. over 50 percent. C’mon,” he said. “We have to get 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent voters to turn out--like happens in so many other countries.”

“What you have to do is exercise your rights—it’s insanity that the president of the United States says that climate change is a hoax,” he added. “But there is a way to change it, and it’s straightforward, hard work. The Civil Rights Movement, Peace Movement were driven by people like yourself.”

You’ve got to hold people accountable…and vote people out who are not willing to admit facts, science.”

Kerry told the kids to start at the local level, demanding sustainable practices from city council. Then, knock on doors and hold rallies to effect change on the state and national level.

Kerry said the largest demonstration for the planet is planned for April 22, followed by another one in September where will mobilize on five continents.

“It’s meant to empower people,” he said.

Kerry told the kids that the greatest cause of children hospitalized in the summer is from pollution-induced asthma, specifically pointing to diesel trucks being diverted through their neighborhoods.

“A different conversation needs to take place in America,” he added. “We can’t win if people sit on the sidelines. There’s no automatic pilot on democracy. But if we do what we need to do, we will win the future. We just need to build political momentum and will to do it.”

 

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