Laurie David, well known as the producer of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, appeared at Climate One at the Commonwealth Club to talk about her new book, ‘The Family Dinner”.
As part of the discussion, focused primarily on the benefits of sit down family dinners, Laurie David touched on food issues related to health, diet, meat consumption, and climate.
“Every single thing that we all care about crosses the dinner plate. I mean this is the perfect place where all these issues come together. And the kitchen is the greenest room in your house to start practicing and teaching these values.”
“…our appetite for meat has become gargantuan and absolutely unsustainable”
“I am a meat reducer. And I honestly – I really hate labels, because they put this pressure on you. You don’t have to put a label on yourself, you just have to find healthier ways to live”
“Today thirty five percent of what we eat everyday is fast food. We’ve doubled our spending on buying food away from the home, and food that’s almost always higher in fat, salt, and sugar. Our obsession with sugary drinks has also doubled in the last three decades, about 10% of the calories our kids consumer every day, the building blocks of their brain, bones, liver and heart, come from soda. And our appetite for meat has become gargantuan and absolutely unsustainable, and what was once a weekly treat is now often inhaled at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mean it’s impossible to respect what you are eating when you eat so much of it. ”
“Most of us in this room consume 150 times as much chicken as our grandparents did. And 99% of our meat and dairy comes directly to us from filthy factory farms that are devastating our air and water, and where animals are force fed food that is unnatural to their systems, pumped with hormones and antibiotics to make them get bigger faster so they can be slaughtered quicker and sold to us to keep up with the growing demand. That is what we are eating and feeding our kids”
“Animal products are the main source of saturated fats which contribute to a whole host of diseases, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that diet related illnesses is now America’s top killer. We are in the midst of a tsunami of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, allergies. Yale University scientists recently reported that child obesity has tripled over the past thirty years, so today over half of all American kids are now officially classified as overweight. And overweight people have more heart disease, cancer, and are three times more prone to suffer from diabetes.”
“A 2009 Gallup study found diabetes hits one in nine Americans. But that number will soon be outdated. The CDC just released figures warning that by mid century that figure would go to one in three. One in three. So that’s like, look to your right and to your left, one of the three of you will have diabetes. I means that is a huge percentage of our population with a serious, chronic and expensive disease.”
Climate One at the Commonwealth Club held a eleventh hour debate on Proposition 23, on the eve just before the election. While the positions discussed were charged and contentious, the speakers on both sides of the issue maintained a respectful demeanor throughout.
This video segment shows the opening statements of each speaker, beginning with Tom Tanton and then Jack Stewart on the pro Prop 23 side, and followed by Nancy Floyd and Bob Epstein arguing the nay case.
Since Proposition 23 is largely funded by Texas oil companies, the nay side has taken to framing Prop 23 as a sort of state’s self-determination issue. So Bob Epstein humorously ended his opening statement with a reference to another ongoing California/Texas clash, the world series. While the debate was going on, those in attendance of course were missing watching the game between their home team, the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers, being played out in Texas. After the debate, several people from the audience, including two of the debaters, slipped into a bar across the street just in time to catch the final inning of the World Series. In this case the California side prevailed, while the fate of proposition 23 remained to be determined the following day.
This brief video shows the ecstatic reaction of San Francisco Giants fans inside the bar as they watch the final moments of the game.
U.S. Treasury of the Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared at the Commonwealth Club in Palo Alto California. He delivering an opening statement and then took questions, speaking on a variety of topics including energy, fiscal policy, currency devaluation, and the role of government.
This video segment features interview excerpts on topics including clean and renewable energy, investment in public infrastructure, and fair currency valuation by both the United States and China.
“I think it’s right to say that we are not smart, not wise, not responsible, not sensible, in how we use energy as a country today. We’re one of the largest consumers of the types of energy that are worst for the environment. It’s something we should not tolerate and accept, and to change that is going to require a broad based set of reforms to how we use energy, how it’s priced, how expensive it is, the standards we force companies to run with. And as you know, the President was successful in winning congressional support for very substantial increases in renewables, and some very important improvements in standards for, for example, gasoline standards, efficiency standards for cars, but he has not yet been successful in finding political support for the broader set of challenges for reforms in energy that we think are important. And he’s going to keep working at that, but again, it’s not something that he can do without a broader consensus of support from the business community. ”
“There’s been a lot of support from the business community for very sensible reforms in this area. A lot of coalitions of some of the most energy intensive industries out there supportive of reform, recognizing I think as your questioner implied we’re not in a sustainable position, so we’ve got some ways to go in that area.”
“Investment in public infrastructure , in transportation, is a good investment. Now, our government doesn’t do it … not perfect in how they do it. A lot of inefficiencies and a lot of politics in how those dollars are allocated, which is one reason why the president has proposed that we establish an infrastructure bank that can bring a more disciplined, a much more selective approach toward deciding what we finance. But it’s a very good strategy for growth near term, it’s very good for growth, short term and long term, and it has the benefit of getting some of the people hardest hit by the recession, people in manufacturing, in autos, or in construction, back to work more quickly.”
And I should say, that you know, even though I’ve been in Government all my life, and I work for a president that didn’t come from the business community, he understands and we understand that, you know, the business of America is business, and the role of government is to help businesses, create better incentives for them to create jobs ,to innovate, to grow and expand, but as we have all learned , and you’ve seen in this crisis, that requires that the government be better at doing things only the government can do, like educating our children, like making sure our financial system does not leave us with huge risk, with huge collateral damage when you have a recession, that we’re using energy more efficiently, that we find ways to make sure a broader range of our citizens have access to affordable health care. Those are things that governments have to do for market economies, for businesses to thrive, to function, and as you’ve seen as a country we have not been good enough at doing those things, we have to get better at it, and the world is getting better at it more quickly than we are now, and that should be a huge cause for action in Washington and in state and local governments around the country.”
“It is very important for people to understand that the United States of America and no country around the world can devalue its way to prosperity, to competitiveness. It is not a viable, feasible strategy and we will not engage in it. It is very important to us that people have confidence in our capacity to meet our long term fiscal obligations, to make sure that the federal reserve does its job of keeping inflation low and stable over time, and we recognize that the U.S. plays a particularly important special role in the international financial system because the dollar serves as the principle reserve asset of the global financial system. So we’re gonna work very hard to make sure that we preserve confidence in a strong dollar and that we’re working very hard to strengthen confidence in our capacity and Washington’s capacity to, as I said, repair the damage caused by this crisis and restore, as we recover, a sense of discipline, gravity, balance to our long term fiscal position.”
In this video, Secretary Geithner responds to questions about the financial crisis and recovery:
Partial Excerpt: “The mistakes made by our people running some of our major financial institutions, by small and large banks across the country, and the mistakes made by people in government responsibility for overseeing that system were catastrophic, and it was absolutely essential that as we put out the financial fire, which we have done at much lower cost, much more quickly, much more effectively, than anyone thought was possible, that we change the basic rules of the game in which institutions operate.
And I believe, but I’m going to take the optimistic side of the debate, that the reforms Congress passed this summer are the most powerful, the most effective, I think a model for the world in how to make sure you bring a more modern structure of oversight to a market oriented financial system, and we’ve already moved very quickly to raise capital requirements on banks, to reduce leverage, to make sure they’re operating with much stronger financial cushions against whatever the uncertain source of risk we face in the future, we’re moving very quickly to make sure consumer’s have access to much better disclosure about the basic terms of a mortgage or a credit card, and we now have the tools we did not have before the crisis to make sure that we can dismember a large institution that managed itself to the edge of a cliff, to make sure we can dismember them safely at less cost to the taxpayer, less damage to the economy as a whole. So that imperative of financial reform quickly was very important, and I’m much more confident now because of those reforms that we’re gonna have a financial system that can go back to being the envy of the world and do what it exists to do, which is to take the savings of Americans and channel those to businesses that have some idea, that need to grow. We were once the envy of the world in doing that, we lost our way, and we’re going to make sure that we go back to a country with a system that serves that basic function better.”
This video features Geithner’s opening statement on the economy and priorities ahead:
Excerpt: “Investing in public infrastructure we think has one of the highest returns on the use of a dollar of taxpayer’s resources, it’s good for long term growth too, and it’s very good at helping people get back to work who have been hurt most by the crisis in construction, in manufacturing. These are relatively good jobs, they pay relatively well. And again, we’re not a country with unlimited resources, we have to make choices about how we use those resources, and we want to make sure we’re investing those resources in things that will raise our long term growth prospects.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton began her appearance at ClimateOne at the Commonwealth Club with an opening statement. This video includes excerpts of her address:
“I wanted to just make a few points, because I think it’s important to give you a bit of an overview of what we’ve been trying to do since January 2009. Clearly for me as Secretary of State it is a primary mission to elevate diplomacy and development alongside defense so that we have an integrated foreign policy in support of our national security, and in furtherance of our interests and our values. Now that seems self evident when I say it tonight here in this gathering, but it is actually quite challenging to do. It’s challenging for several reasons, first because the diplomacy of our nation which has been from the very beginning one of the principle tools of what we do has never been fully understood by the general public. It appears in the minds of many to be official meetings mostly conducted by men in three piece suits with other men in government buildings and even palaces to end wars and resolve all kinds of impasses. And of course there is still that element, not only with men any longer, but nevertheless the work of diplomacy is in the traditional mode, but it is so much more today. Because it is also imperative that we engage in public diplomacy, reaching out to – not just leaders – but the citizens of the countries with whom we engage, because even in authoritarian regimes, public opinion actually matters, and in our interconnected world it matters in ways that are even more important. So we have tried to use the tools of technology to expand the role of diplomacy. Similarly with development. I have long been passionate about what our assistance programs mean around the world, how they represent the very best of the generosity of spirit of the American people. ”
images by Jill Gustafson
“And USAID which was started with such high hopes by President Kennedy did so much good work in the 1960s and 70s – the green revolution , the absolutely extraordinary commitment that the United States, our researchers and our agricultural scientists made to improving agriculture around the world transformed the way people were able to feed themselves and to build a better future. Then over time, USAID became hollowed out. It became truly a shadow of its former self, it became not so much an agency of experts as a contracting mechanism. So the work that used to be done by development experts housed in the US government became much more a part of contracting out with NGOs here at home and around the world, so the identity, the reputation of USAID no longer was what it need to be”
“One aspect of what we’re doing to promote diplomacy and development that is quite new, and has special relevance for the Bay Area and Northern California, is our emphasis on innovation and the use of technology. We have been working very hard for the last twenty months to bring into the work we do the advances that many of the companies and the innovators entrepreneurs here in California have brought to business, have brought to communications in particular. You know, innovation is one of America’s greatest values and products, and we are very committed to working with scientists and researchers and others to look for new ways to develop heartier crops or lifesaving drugs at affordable costs, working with engineers for new sources of clean energy or clean water to both stem climate change and also to improve the standard of living for people. Social entrepreneurs who married capitalism and philanthropy are using the power of the free market to drive social and economic progress. ”
“And here we see a great advantage that the United States has that we’re putting to work in our every day thinking and outreach around the world. Let me just give you a couple of examples because the new communication tools that all of you and I use as a matter of course are helping to connect and empower civil society leaders, democracy activists, and everyday citizens even in closed societies. Earlier this year, in Syria, young students witnessed shocking physical abuse by their teachers. Now as you know, in Syria, criticism of public officials is not particularly welcome, especially when the critics are children and young people. And a decade earlier the students would have just suffered those beatings in silence. But these students had two secret weapons – cell phones and the internet. They recorded videos and pasted them on Facebook, even though the site is officially banned in Syria. The public backlash against the teachers was so swift and vocal that the government had to remove them from their positions.”
“That’s why the United States in the Obama administration is such a strong advocate for the freedom to connect. And earlier this year last January I gave a speech about our commitment to internet freedom, which if you think about it, is the freedom to assemble, the freedom to freely express yourself, the right of all people to connect to the internet and to each other, to access information to share their views, participate in global debates. Now I’m well aware that telecommunications is not any silver bullet, and these technologies can also as we are learning can also be used for repressive purposes, but all over the world we see their promise. And so we’re working to leverage the power and the potential, in what I call twenty-first century statecraft. Part of our approach is to embrace new tools like using cell phones for mobile banking or to monitor elections. But we’re also reaching to the people behind these tools, the innovators and the entrepreneurs themselves. For instance, we know that many business leaders want to devote some of their companies expertise to helping solve problems around the world, but they often don’t know how to do that. What’s the point of entry? Which ideas would have the most impact?”
“So to bridge that cap, we are embracing new public private partnerships that link on the ground experience of our diplomats and development experts with the energy and resources of the business community. One of my first acts as Secretary was to appoint a Special Representative for Global Partnerships, and we have brought delegations of technology leaders to Mexico and, Columbia, Iraq and Syria, as well as India and Russia, not just to meet with government officials, but activists, teachers, doctors and so many more. ”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared at ClimateOne at the Commonwealth Club. In this excerpt, she answers a question about the administrations support for a tar sands pipeline from Alberta. Gregory Dalton asks, “How can the U.S. be saying climate change is a priority when we’re mainlining some of the dirtiest fuel that exists”?
images by Jill Gustafson
Partial Excerpt: “We’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dependent on dirty oil from Canada, and until we can get our act together as a country, and figure out that clean renewable energy is in both our economic interest and the interest of our planet…”
“I mean I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone how deeply disappointed the President and I are about our inability to get the kind of legislation through the Senate that the United States was seeking. That hasn’t stopped what we’re doing. We have moved a lot on the regulatory front through the EPA here at home and we have been working with a number of countries on adaptation and mitigation measures, but obviously it was one of the highest priorities of the administration for us to enshrine in legislation President Obama’s commitment to reducing our emissions. So we do have a lot that still must be done.”
“It’s a hard balancing act. It’s a very hard balancing act. But it is also for me, energy security requires that I look at all of the factors that we have to consider while we try to expedite as much as we can America’s move toward clean renewable energy.”
Clinton concluded her appearance fielding a question from ten year old Eli, who asked what people can do to help the environment.
Speaking as a “private citizen” for a moment, she mentioned the “frustration, anxiety and even anger” in the United States today, “And I hope that people take some of that energy and focus it on the environment and on climate change, because we really need to have a longer range view of what’s going to make our country strong and rich and smart”.
Monday, September 27, 2010 Santa Clara, California
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke out strongly against Proposition 23 at the Commonwealth Club. He attacked as ‘cynical’ efforts by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro to ‘kill’ California’s AB32 climate legislation, calling the efforts driven by ‘self-serving greed’, and comparing these efforts to a conspiracy in the twenties which destroyed light rail in America. While critiquing national efforts at climate legislation as ineffective, he praised President Obama’s intentions. Citing failures at the national and international levels, he stressed the importance of California’s AB32 to provide a strong financial zone for green development and green job creation, referring to the struggle over Proposition 23 as a battle.
“Does any one really believe that these companies out the goodness of their black oil hearts are spending of millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs?”
Partial excerpt: “Those who seek to overturn our carbon reduction law say that the green tech future is to costly… But here’s what the don’t want to tell you: The cost calculations doesn’t include the increased cost of doing business their way. The old way.”
“They don’t include the cost for instance of rising oil prices as the developing world demands more and more oil. They don’t include the cost of job losses that these rising oil prices would force. They don’t include the cost of hundred of billions of tax breaks that have gotten and continue to get. They don’t include the cost of pollution that they are already causing. The cost for instance of the hundred thousand Americans who die every year from smog related diseases.
They don’t include also the cost of 6.5 million hospital visits per year for smog related illnesses.
They don’t include the cost of the next war over oil – and believe me eventually it would come – as we become more and more dependent on oil. I mean I think that we have had enough wars in the Middle East because of oil – don’t you think so?”
The Governor’s statement was also covered at GreenTechMedia and on MSNBC:
Panelist A.G. Kawamura, California Secretary of Food and Agriculture spoke at Climate One at the Commonwealth Club’s “After Copenhagen, What Happened? What Now?”. There were so many panelists reporting on their experiences at the COP 15 that each was only allotted two minutes for their statement.
“..for us, Copenhagen was a groundbreaking opportunity to really introduce the very realistic and very sobering proposition that if you have unpredictable weather that means unpredictable harvest”
“…when you recognize that in the underdeveloped world that almost half the products that are grown never make it on the plate, when you recognize that in the developed world, that almost thirty to forty percent of the products that are on the plate get thrown away, these are some huge issues that we have to deal with.”