Last night was a big night for me. I got to eat my first Shake Shack Burger, purportedly the best burger in Manhattan (if not the world?). It was pretty damn good. Normally I would never eat a burger if it weren’t organic. But restaurateur Danny Meyer seems to know how to handle good food, and I’m glad I took the risk—because it kept me from being hungry while I introduced the Nobel Peace Prize-winning, Honorable Vice President Al Gore at the launch party for his new book Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, published by Rodale. As Chairman and CEO of the publisher of Our Choice, I was honored to host an intimate party for him (right after he appeared on Letterman, and before he spoke to a few thousand people at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City).
Here are some scenes from the event:
What is truly amazing about the research-packed, intense book is that it demonstrates over and over that we really do have a lot of solutions to solving the world’s climate and environmental problems. The biggest challenge is just motivating ourselves—and our governments—to get it done.
But with so many solutions, where do we begin? I took the liberty of making a list. Y’all should buy the book and read it so you can learn the whole spectrum of amazing options, but until then, here are my top 10 solutions for stopping climate change as inspired by Al Gore’s Our Choice:
1. Believe you can make a difference. You don’t even really need to believe in global warming to have a desire to improve the world for future generations, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make the air, water and soil cleaner. I had a truly lovely conversation with former Governor Mario Cuomo at the party and he said to me “It is a moral, ethical and the ultimate religious choice to care about the world long after we are in it.” We both lamented that more conservative religious groups aren’t embracing the need to protect our environment, thereby protecting our children (all God’s children!)
2. Educate girls around the world. Truly, it’s the one thing we can all do that will ultimately reduce population growth and improve the quality of life for all people on the planet. Vice President Gore shows how it works in the book, and it’s amazing.
3. Eat, grow, and buy organic food. Al Gore doesn’t come right out and say so in the book—but I know he thinks it. He understands now, finally, the importance of organic soil to storing carbon. And while he’s still a believer in genetically modified (GM) crops, I have faith he will change his mind once he reads my upcoming book, Organic Manifesto. After all, he cast the deciding vote supporting corn-based biofuels, and now admits he was wrong. (We women love it when a guy is man enough to admit he was wrong!)
4. Turn off the TV. Not only will it save electricity and energy, but watching less television will also give you your life back. The average American watches 17 years of television over his or her lifetime. That’s an average of five hours a day when you could be doing something important to make a difference. Or at the very least exercising your “democracy muscles.”
5. Plant trees—lots of trees. Trees are massive carbon storage bins, and they provide us our oxygen for breathing. And each tree stores carbon for the duration of its long life. Wherever you have space, plant trees. Support groups that plant trees (like the New York Restoration Project, which has already planted 250,000 trees in New York City). Trees also turn desert back into viable, usable land, and restore healthy weather patterns. Trees rock!
6. Protect our soil. Adding any synthetic chemicals to our soil not only poisons us, but it kills off the essential fungi and bacteria that store carbon and keep the soil alive. Dead soil turns into desert. Dead soil can’t grow anything. Dead soil leads to dead civilizations (which means dead people).
7. Don’t buy meat or poultry unless it’s from a place where animals are raised organically and on a farm, not a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). Animal manure is a key organic fertilizer for farms, but when cattle or poultry are raised inhumanely in CAFOs and fed foods that aren’t good for them (like corn, arsenic, and other animals), their manure turns acidic and toxic. Which leads to methane pollution that isn’t good for anything, and food that isn’t good for us. I don’t know if Shake Shack burgers are CAFO-free (no one is perfect!), but they did have “Stop Global Warming” T-shirts for sale in the restaurant.
8. Live in a city. The carbon footprint of people who live in cities is less than half of those who live outside the cities. If (like me) you don’t like living in cities make sure you drive a fuel-efficient car, preferably a hybrid.
9. Support renewable energy wherever and whenever you can. Seriously, wind, solar and geothermal CAN provide all our energy needs: we just have to start making it happen.
10. VOTE to change the laws and policies. It’s not just about changing light bulbs anymore, it’s about changing the rules that protect polluters and prevent renewable energy from becoming affordable. Fortunately, we live in a democracy where we can, when we make the choice, unite and fight for what’s right by electing the right people, writing to the right people, and running for office ourselves. Yes we can!
Note: All the profit from Our Choice goes to the Alliance for Climate Protection to “help repower America.” Check out the group’s website.