A week in Denmark

I had an amazing opportunity to explore Denmark just a few weeks ago. We packed a lot in to just a few days over seas. We explored Copenhagen, climbed the steps at Møns Klint, watched the sun set on the shore and drank way too many lattes. I’m working on a short video highlighting our trip. The week in Denmark resulted in a few articles and more on the horizon. I also visited the Copenhagen Zoo and interviewed the Director of Research and Conservation – I can’t wait to share our chat.

Here is the link to my column in The Dallas Morning News that ran last Saturday. This column is also a preview of my TEDx talk this Fall. I used my trip to weave together some thoughts on how to find your climate change inspiration.

And below is my weekly article for the Katy Trail Weekly with many more pictures than can be printed in the paper. 🙂

I returned back to the states from a trip overseas just in time to hear the good news about the “Clean Power Plan.” The White House has issued what is being called the strongest climate action by the U.S. in its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 32 percent based on their 2005 levels. In a video posted by the White House on their Facebook page, President Obama said, “Power plants are the single biggest source of the harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. Until now there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump into the air.” The reduction in greenhouse gases can be done and the country I visited is proof of it.

I spent a week in Denmark, the first country to be entirely powered by renewable energy, at least for one day. On a recent especially windy day, Denmark produced 140 percent of its national energy needs from wind and exported the extra to nearby Germany, Norway and Sweden. The wind turbines are part of the culture and are found from the countryside to within city limits. Everywhere you turn, the environment is a priority to the Danish citizens. Bike lanes protected by curbs line the city streets packed with commuters, every toilet has flush what you do options, solar panels are found on homes, churches and countryside farms. Compost waste cans are common, and small cars are the norm.

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I think we saw a total of two pickup trucks the entire time we were there. The Tesla shop in downtown Copenhagen draws more interest than a gas guzzling pickup. I was excited to step inside the Tesla shop, something you can’t find here in Texas. Just this year the Texas State Legislature failed to vote on two separate bills that would have allowed Tesla vehicles to be sold directly to customers here in Texas. Next chance to see a Tesla shop here in Dallas comes in two years when the state legislature session is back.

Parading around in our rain jackets, we saw very little sun in Denmark yet solar panels were everywhere. The solar panels are able to gather sunlight for a longer period of time during the summer when days are about 20 hours long, but as I bundled up in my winter jacket I thought about the hot sun of Texas. When we stepped off the plane in Dallas, I was instantly reminded of our blazing sun and the opportunities we have in Texas to capitalize on solar energy. With a change in our energy sources we can quickly become an international leader in sustainability.

The Clean Power Plan is set to put an emphasis on wind and solar power and some have already declared it a “war on coal.” This is certain to cause the coal and natural gas industry to be in an uproar. But as President Obama emphasized in the video, if we wish to care for our planet for future generations we need to make drastic changes now. The effects of climate change can be seen right here in Dallas with high ozone days and in our own human health.

The Clean Power Plan is good news locally and internationally as we lead up to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change being held in Paris this fall. The U.S. Clean Power Plan will encourage other nations to declare their own plans to reduce greenhouse gases. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, we are looking at you.

But it starts at home. The trip to Denmark was beautiful, inspiring yet they aren’t perfect either. Ultimately, I live in Dallas, and I know our city can lead the way to a sustainable future. What can we do here in Dallas to push our community to be more sustainable? Let’s be innovative to come up with creative solutions to traffic congestion, clean air issues, water quality problems and make the environment more of our priority in our everyday actions.

As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.

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