I had the opportunity to meet with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the impacts of climate change on Rhode Island. This included the marine impacts, such as warming bay waters, and increased intensity of storms.
The winds on Rhode Island’s waters made them the location of choice for the America’s Cup sailing races for over a century. While harnessing that wind for energy may be only a small piece of the global picture, it can contribute to broader efforts to mitigate climate change.
We discussed the proactive planning process that Rhode Island completed in 2010, which resulted in the designation of a renewable energy area in state waters. Deepwater Wind has already applied to build a 30 megawatt demonstration-scale offshore wind farm in this area, which might become the first offshore wind to be harnessed in the US.
As the keynote speaker for Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day, Gore commended Rhode Island’s smart ocean planning and its robust engagement of stakeholders.
“Congratulations to Rhode Island; one of the things this little engine that can has done is to bring all the stakeholders together in a very intelligent way, and move quickly,” he said. “You know, there’s an old Native American saying: If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. We have to go far, quickly. And that’s what you’re doing by getting your act together and figuring out the problems and the points of opposition in advance, and getting people to work together.”
Many of the people in the audience came away feeling inspired that maybe we can address climate change before it’s too late. I know I did.