A Time of Challenge and Opportunity


NRDC founding president John Adams, outgoing president Frances Beinecke, and me.

The New Year brings new beginnings, and 2015 is off to a galloping start. I am embarking on the most important job of my career: leading NRDC at a moment of extraordinary challenge and opportunity. The decisions we make as a nation now will determine the future our children inherit.

As the daughter of Korean immigrants who came to America to build a better life, and as the mother of a four-year-old girl who is full of hope and possibility, I know we can seize the solutions at hand, and we can leave the next generation with cleaner air, safer water, and a more stable climate.

And because we can, we must.

Climate change is already bearing down on our families and communities. Intense drought, storms, and fires have hit home from California to Detroit, Oregon to Miami. These extreme events destroy houses, drain nest eggs, threaten people's health, and leave millions of dollars in damages in their wake.

If we fail to confront this crisis at its root—pollution from fossil fuels—the ravages of climate change will only escalate. That's not what I want for my little girl or for anyone else.

The good news is we know how to solve this challenge, and we have begun. The US has an expanding clean energy sector, a president who understands the need to cut climate change pollution, a business community that recognizes the opportunity, and a growing public movement for action. This is a good start, but we must move faster.

That's why I am proud to take the helm of NRDC. This organization has designed and secured the clean energy and public health solutions that will help our nation address climate change. Former NRDC Presidents John Adams and Frances Beinecke built a powerhouse of science, legal, and advocacy expertise. NRDC members and activists have brought their passion and commitment to the fight. We are ready to accelerate America's move into the sustainable future.

I am honored to carry on NRDC's mission of preserving clean air, safe water, healthy wildlife and landscapes and protecting communities from climate change.

We will focus on delivering results, as NRDC always has. And we will help broaden the environmental movement and ensure it reflects the great diversity of our nation. NRDC has a long tradition of standing up with communities of color that suffer first and most from pollution. We will continue working for equal justice under the law and welcoming more voices into the call for environmental protection.

I am confident we will succeed. I am an optimist whose faith is rooted in history and experience. My parents came to this country in the early 1960s with nothing and they gave my sisters and me everything. I was born the same month the nation celebrated the first Earth Day, when millions of people came together to demand clean air, clean water, and the protection of our planet. I benefited from that advocacy and the tremendous progress it unleashed. And I learned that determined people can create a better life for themselves and their communities.

Now it's our turn. This is an incredibly important moment in time—a moment when we can shape the future. We can make the choices that will ensure our children inherit a world that is vibrant, just, and sustainable. Let's start now.

About the Authors

Rhea Suh


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