Morning Keynotes: We’re All Connected

Posted on 23. Sep, 2010 by in Business & Policy, Clean Tech, Design & Culture, Entrepreneurship, Interviews

Interconnectivity was the definitive theme of this morning’s keynotes.

First, Rick Ridgeway, Rick Ridgeway, vice president of environmental programs and communication for Patagonia, addressed the need to create landscape connectivity. Wildlife, Ridgeway explained, need corridors to roam for food and find mates—a need that has only increased with global warming.

“What happens when that need to roam is blocked?” Ridgeway asked. “Their ability to survive is diminished. And what are the consequences of that for us?”

Patagonia is tackling the need for landscape connectivity firsthand with its Freedom to Roam initiative. As Ridgeway explained, they’re connecting with big players across a number of industries—beginning, somewhat controversially, with BP and the oil industry.

Why sit down with the supposed enemy? Ridgeway explained that Patagonia has a philosophy of inclusion rather than exclusion. “We feel that the only way to bring long-term protection is to include the excluded,” Ridgeway said.

Because, after all, we’re all connected.

Steve Westly, managing partner of The Westly Group, also underscored the significance of interconnectivity. “Eighty-three million people in China will die of lung disease in the next 25 years,” he said. China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest polluter, and its air pollution is affecting air quality as far away as the U.S. In fact, Westly said China is now responsible for 25% of L.A.’s smog.

But China, Westly argued, has taken stronger, swifter actions to fight pollutants and climate change—including stricter fuel economy standards and the largest reforestation project in history.

“The good news is that we’re seeing the best and the brightest minds turning their attention to the cleantech revolution,” Westly said. Cleantech is now the largest U.S. venture sector, he pointed out; in the third quarter of 2009, it finally eclipsed both biotech and IT.

Westly urged OG2010 attendees to join the revolution: “I challenge all of you to be the innovators who see a new world, and continue to make the U.S. the entrepreneurial leader of the world.”

Written by AHA! for Opportunity Green.

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