Starting a Clean Energy Revolution with Common Sense

Book cover

I have been an environmental advocate for more than 35 years. And throughout that time, I have written policy briefs, magazine articles, and blog posts, but never before had I been inspired to write a book. 

That changed several months ago. I realized that we had arrived at a critical moment.

Not only do more and more Americans now recognize climate change as one of our most significant environment, economic, and humanitarian crises, but in the weeks ahead, Congress, the White House, the United Nations, China, India, and all the countries of the world will turn their focus to climate change.

From the Senate to the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, leaders will be crafting the policies that will shape our energy future and our planet's future.

Never before in my lifetime have the stakes on this issue been higher. Never has there been more momentum for change.

Now is the time for people to speak up and tell our lawmakers that yes, we want to solve global warming. We want to create green jobs, reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and put America at the forefront of the global clean energy market.

That's why I wrote a book with the help of my talented NRDC colleague, Bob Deans. I want Clean Energy Common Sense to be a part of the climate conversation now, when it matters most.

And I want the book to reach beyond the typical ideological divides. This is not a political treatise. It is not a partisan screed. It is an invitation to solve this crisis together.

While I was drafting the book, I kept a certain audience in mind: the people who have heard a lot about climate change from both sides but are not sure what to believe.

I talk with these people all the time. They approach me after I give a speech or at gatherings when they find out what I do. And they ask me solid, probing questions.

They might be skeptical of my answers at first, but they are willing to listen.

I wanted this book to be worthy of that attentiveness. I am not asking readers to take my word for it that we must confront climate change. I ask them to listen to the most authoritative experts in the field.

When I write about the alarming rate at which summer sea ice is melting in the Arctic, I reference scientists from NASA. 

When I say that climate change poses a serious threat to national security, I quote Marine Corps four-star General Anthony Zinni, U.S. Navy Admiral Lee Gunn, and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

And when I explain that creating a clean energy future is affordable, I cite research from the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. These places are home to the best energy economists in the world. They are not in the service of any one but the public's interest. And they agree that fighting climate change will cost American families less than 44 cents a day.

Most of all, I want the book to be accessible.

When Bob and I were first discussing the book, we were inspired by essayist Thomas Paine who, with his with his 47-page pamphlet Common Sense managed to frame the debate for the American colony's break from British rule in 1776.

Like Paine's piece, our book is a quick read. It is an inexpensive paperback designed to be digested quickly and passed around. We want to get this book into people's hands when it matters most: now, while Congress debates the single most important vote of our generation.