Joel Gordes: "Treat it as a national security issue"

Another in a series of miniprofiles of sustainability-minded people who are working to reduce humankind’s footprint on the planet. They're "mini" not only because they're short, but because all the questions are 10 words or less, and the answers are requested to match.

JOEL GORDES, 62, West Hartford, Conn. Energy consultant, Environmental Energy Solutions

What do you do? “I work on all sorts of energy-related issues, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change and the insurance industry, and energy security.”

Green epiphany: “Flying missions over Vietnam. I was an Air Force officer flying unarmed reconnaissance, and the land looked like the craters of the moon in places. Then in 1972, after I came home, I happened to read an article in Scientific American about the cratering of Southeast Asia. That was my moment.”

Green hero:Dr. Albert E. Burke. He was a Yale professor who was the first to use television as an educational medium working at the connection of the environment, our resources, and our freedoms. He came publicly before Rachel Carson, before Barry Commoner, before Buckminster Fuller.”

A sustainability practice you’ve recently taken on: “Calling attention to the fact that sustainability goes beyond nibbling around the edges of physical things, like solar panels. It goes much, much deeper.”

An example of greenwashing that really bothers you: “Glass palaces that pass for green buildings.”

What’s the most important action an individual can take? “Not having more than two children.”

A group that’s making a difference: “Let me say Worldwatch and NESEA, because they’re undersung.”

Are we going to have to do with less? “Less is a relative term. Physically less can lead to far more enlightenment and well being.”

Can we buy our way into sustainability? “No, we have to think our way into it.”

A question I should have asked you? “What will we need to do to combat climate change?”

And your answer? “We have to treat it as a national security issue, on an equal footing as we would a long-term war.”

Are we going to make it? “Some days, I have my doubts. But the planet will make it.”


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