Earth & Conservation

Alternative Ways to Save the Planet

Activists are seeking novel ways to fight climate change as the Trump administration takes charge of U.S. environmental policy.

When Donald Trump said climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese, 7 out of 10 Americans knew better than to believe it, according to a recent survey. And his positions on the environment are well known, including campaign promises to boost the use of coal, kill the Environmental Protection Agency, cancel the Paris climate deal, and cut U.S. payment to United Nations climate change programs.

"The presidency may be changing," Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, told Seeker. "But the threats posed by runaway climate change and unsustainable resource-use remain."

Activists are doing more than protesting. They're suing the government, raising millions and funding and promoting companies that produce renewable energy.

Last month a U.S. District Judge allowed a climate case against the government to go forward that was initiated by a group of children - ages 9 to 20. Their suit alleges climate change inaction on the part of the federal government, and former NASA researcher and aclimate scientist James Hansen joined the suit last year in support of his granddaughter.

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"Get the school kids - and their teachers - involved," said Dr. Tim Barnett, a research marine physicist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. "It will take a national movement to beat the energy industry influence."

Billionaire environmentalist and philanthropist Tom Steyer is employing a time-tested method of exerting influence: spending boatloads of money. "We have always been willing to do whatever is necessary," Steyer said to Reuters when asked how much he was willing to spend fighting Trump's pro-drilling and anti-regulation platform.

Steyer's political action group, NextGen Climate, is organizing volunteers, accepting donations and taking political action to combat climate change and support the transition to a clean energy economy.

According to NextGen, President Obama took an important step forward last week, as he intends to block new offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean in the next five-year plan, at the urging of environmentalists. The action group is calling on Obama to go even further in the last weeks of his presidency by permanently protecting the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from hazardous offshore oil drilling.

"A majority of Americans voted against President-elect Trump's vision of the future last week," Heather Hargreaves, vice president of NextGen Climate, told Seeker. "Since Election Day, thousands of Americans have signed up to volunteer."

Entrepreneurs from around the world recently gathered at the Meaning conference in Brighton, UK, to discuss how businesses can influence positive change. Post-Trump climate change policy was, of course, a much-discussed topic. Good Energy CEO Juliet Davenport pointed to crowdfunding as a way for small businesses to get funded in markets where large corporate players may dominate.

"Today, the crowdfunding model gives you huge freedom that lets you loose from the traditional city funding or government innovation funding. Then you can start playing with new business models and new ideas."

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