City at heart of green revolution

Think about this: “We are living during an incredibly unique period in the ongoing history of humanity.” How often has that same thought crossed the minds of our ancestors? Did the first generation of farmers realize the profound impact the agricultural revolution would have on the formation of modern society? In the early years of the industrial revolution, did anyone have even an inkling of what they were setting into motion? These key turning points in the development of our species have dramatically changed the world. As important as they were, they will pale in comparison to the Next Big Thing. I’m talking about the green revolution.

There is one thing that sets the green revolution apart from any previous shift in history: It is inevitable. To put it bluntly, it will either happen successfully or we may perish. With challenges like climate change and peak oil becoming more obvious and pressing every day, the green revolution cannot be denied. Far from a passing fancy, this revolution is growing exponentially. It will be bigger and have a more profound impact on life than anything we’ve ever done. Ever.

The agricultural revolution produced more food, cities formed and our population bloomed. The industrial revolution harnessed energy and technology, expanding our capacity to literally reshape the Earth, and indeed we have done just that. We’ve plowed and paved, dug and drilled, invented and innovated – growing all the while.

Now we find ourselves at the ultimate precipice. It is time to refocus on improving the quality of life and happiness for all, moving away from a false economy based on mere consumption and sterile, destructive definitions of “progress” that benefit a select few (the Southern Nevada Water Authority pipeline comes to mind). It is time to learn to live on the planet as if we intend to stay – for a long, long time.

The signs of the green revolution can be found everywhere, including Nevada. In 2010, Nevada led the way in green building with more square feet per capita of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings than any other state. Las Vegas was recently acknowledged in a report by the Brookings Institution for its high concentration of green architects and green building expertise. Nevada also has the most grid-connected photovoltaic electricity installations in the country on a watts per capita basis.

Promoting clean energy and energy efficiency diversifies our economy while improving lives. For the last three years, Las Vegas has been the location of an annual landmark event that has helped shape policy, drive innovation and create results. This year, the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0: The Future of Energy will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the Aria hotel-casino at CityCenter. It is hosted by the Center for American Progress, Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

If you’re one of the many who have been trying to understand the future of the clean economy, this is as close to a crystal ball as you’ll get. Whether you’re a business executive or a concerned citizen, a student or a political leader, this event will, for one day at least, put you at the center of the clean energy universe.

The green revolution is happening. It is big and you are a part of it. There are no guarantees, but we just might become the ancestors that future generations will thank as they breathe fresh air and drink clean water, enjoying a healthy planet that once faced a very uncertain future. They too might wonder if we had any idea of the incredible results our actions would create.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Steve, please visit www.greendream.biz.

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