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Thoughts on Bill Gates’ annual letter that focused on carbon-free energy

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Hi all. Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post for one of my fave Indy nonprofits, People for Urban Progress. They had asked me to offer up my thoughts on Bill Gates’ annual letter that focused on carbon-free energy.

Bill came up with a pretty convincing equation to reduce carbon emissions (I’m a big fan of that!) and he merged the issue of clean energy with environmental justice (also a fan), but he lost me with the desire to have more Elmo and Taylor Swift (OK, OK, sort of a fan.).

Now I’d like to ask for your insight. Within the various sustainability groups I associate with, a reoccurring topic is how do we get environmental issues to be as important to the masses as other social and/or economical issues. To date, our best answer is that we have to combine environmental issues with other issues – kind of like what Bill did in his letter by addressing both carbon emissions and access to electricity in areas of poverty – so they’re relevant to more people.

Will you share your comments and insights in regard to Bill’s letter and/or my blog on the PUP Facebook post? I want to know what messages speak to you. Does creating more opportunities for people in Africa inspire you to be an environmentalist? Or is it that cheap, clean energy would create more jobs to stimulate the economy? What about reducing cases of asthma in children by decreasing our dependence on coal?

Admittedly, I’m a die-hard greenie. I choose a green lifestyle because I love the Earth. I direct my professional and personal energies into environmental issues because I want to take care of this beautiful place I call home. Sure, I care about other issues, but for once I’d love for an environmental issue to rise up and matter — not because it will boost our economy or solve some social issue — because taking care of this place is relevant to everyone!

Piece out,


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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at

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