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Articles by Dan Worth

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Blame It On Rio

In June of 1972, some 35 years ago, a group of future-thinking leaders met in Sweden for the first United Nations Convention on the Human Environment. By the end of a whirlwind week, they had issued the Stockholm Statement, established what is now known as UNEP, and given birth to the modern field of international environmental law.

Twenty years later, in June of 1992, just one month before he would be chosen as Clinton’s running mate, Al Gore was scheduled to present as the head of the Congressional Delegation at the NGO “Global Forum” at the Earth Summit, an event that spawned the Convention on Climate Change, the precursor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Unknown to Gore, a group of 30 rabble-rousing teens and 20-somethings were waiting for him the day of his talk. Organizing themselves into “U.S. Youth at Rio” — in Brazil to push for Bush I to sign the Biodiversity Convention and to call for real leadership on the environment — they somehow got to Gore’s staffers and asked, quite audaciously, to be allowed to introduce him.

One 22-year-old in particular, Aimee Christensen, was ... Read more

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  • Across the country, legal students rally to beat global warming

    The Gore Tour Stops in D.C.

    This coming Sunday, former Vice President, Oscar winner, and rock 'n' roll organizer Al Gore will address a group of more than 400 leading CEOs, COOs, nonprofit leaders, politicians, court justices, attorneys general, law school professors and Deans, entrepreneurs, and environmental professionals.

    Only most of them are still in law school.

    This Sunday, Gore will give the closing address at the 17th Annual Conference of the National Association of Environmental Law Societies, The Future of Environmental Protection, hosted this year by the George Washington University Law School. His inspirational words will no doubt have a profound effect on a group whose actions over the next 50 years will play a central role in the future of the planet.

  • The kids are all right

    Emerging From the Stone Age

    One week ago today, I awoke to a sun-splashed view of the Flatirons from a travel inn just off of Broadway Avenue in Boulder, CO. These sandstone shelves -- named in the days of Abe Lincoln by intrepid pioneer women who said they looked like the flat, metal irons used to iron their clothes -- emerged some 290-296 million years ago as the earth's crust lifted and tilted. These mini-mountains provide an Edenic backdrop for Stephen King's The Stand, and last week, served as the setting for higher education's non-fictional sustainability Stand at the Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit.

    While "set in stone" by human standards, the Flatirons represent a true testament to the incredible power of nature, when given time, to change dramatically. These peaks, not there a short 300 million years ago -- 1/15th of our Earth's 4.6 billion year history -- now dominate our modern landscape. But as Arizona State University President Michael Crow noted in the summit's first plenary session, we humans are more impatient.

    Crow calls the current University period the "Stone Age" -- more often than not representing the worst in humanity. He pointed out that these rigid, complex social constructs are usually slow to change -- filled with many argumentative, self-focused, egotistical, and hubristic leaders whose actions are more motivated by what they think they are to themselves than what they might be to someone else. Crow closed by admitting his own shortcomings in this area and demanding that the humans running today's institutions of higher education, the thousands of professional employed by them, and the 17 million students attending them, change, and change fast, moving from the "Stone Age" into the "Sustainability Age."

  • Signs are hopeful

    Teddy Roosevelt in Grand CanyonIn 1903, a 45-year old Theodore Roosevelt stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. He looked out over one of this country's great wonders and advised the nation to "Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it."

    A little over a century later, I am sweating about 175 miles south in the 95 degree heat of Tempe, Arizona.

    And although the Grand Canyon is still intact, we have not listened to the advice of this great Republican leader on a global scale. We have, in fact, marred this globe, and marred it badly. And we need to fix it. And to do that we need to build a new world. "Leaving it as it is," complete with its 6 billion greenhouse-gas-spewing citizens, is no longer an option.

    I am in town for a conference set up by Arizona State University (ASU) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to confront this very inconvenient truth.

  • Religious leaders unite around climate change

    On Monday, in the wake of remarks that caused anger and intense debate around the world, Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim diplomats that "our future" depends on good relations between followers of the Catholic and Muslim faiths. His Holiness quoted John Paul II calling for "reciprocity in all fields" and urging religious freedom and tolerance.

    This past week, I had the incredible honor of presenting on a panel with religious leaders from around the world as part of the Climate Institute's Summit on Climate Destabilization. The panel, chaired by famed Earth Day founder Denis Hayes, featured revolutionary leaders from the Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Christian, Muslim, and Mormon faiths, all united in efforts to urge their religious communities to take action to stop global warming. As each leader spoke, I watched the rest of the panel nodding, taking notes, and cheering each other on.

    "Good relations" and "reciprocity in all fields" indeed!