It’s been more than a decade since Al Gore’s landmark film, An Inconvenient Truth, came out. The movie succinctly made people aware of the very real climate crisis we were facing. Recently, I watched the follow-up movie, An Inconvenient Sequel, and reflected on our progress and failures. Shortly afer that, WeSpire launched 18 campaigns that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inspire people to take action.
Watching An Inconvenient Sequel prompted swift action on our part, as well as the following reflections:
This has been a really hard 10 years.
It has been filled with some landmark reasons for hope and celebration. The Paris Accords and the huge boom in solar are wonderful. But we have also experienced profound discouragement. Challenges range from lack of funding for cleantech innovation to political will. I was so appreciative of Al Gore’s honesty and candor about how hard it has been. He made me feel like part of a club of fighters and survivors who are prevailing.
Everyone fighting for a cleaner, more sustainable world will be on the right side of history.
This point was one of the most poignant and passionate parts of the movie. Al Gore is someone I think of professor-like, but not necessarily a Martin Luther King-esque inspiring speaker. However, as he so passionately and eloquently likened the climate movement to the fight for civil rights, women’s rights, and marriage equality, I almost jumped out of my seat and cheered.
We not only have a climate crisis but a democracy crisis.
From his TED Talk, Gore says: “As important as it is to change the light bulbs, it is more important to change the laws. And when we change our behavior in our daily lives, we sometimes leave out the citizenship part and the democracy part. In order to be optimistic about this, we have to become incredibly active as citizens in our democracy.”
I remember seeing the first movie and realizing my personal limitations. No matter what I did to change how my family and I ate, how we reused and recycled, or how we powered our home, the climate crisis required big, solutions that scale. Over a decade ago, I left an organization I loved to become part of an early wave of “climate entrepreneurs” when I founded WeSpire. The movie was just one of the many things that inspired me.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals have given us frameworks and targets for the goals that ensure a better and more equitable world for everyone. The SDGs are an enormous reminder that we all have a critical role to play. We need to join together as businesses, as cities, as towns, as neighbors and friends to insist and ensure the equitable and fair treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, and ethnicity. We need to solve the climate crisis by asking everyone to push their business, their town, their school, and their state for a transition to cleaner sources of power.
— Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder and CEO of WeSpire