The 2017 American Climate Leadership Summit (October 25-26) will feature conversations with prominent climate experts and advocates. ecoAmerica offered some of our guest speakers an opportunity to answer up to three questions related to climate change and what we can do about it.
Geof Rochester is Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation organization working to protect the land, water and air, for nature and also for people. He is responsible for steering the organization’s marketing, membership and visibility strategies. Geof has a deep and varied marketing background. Most recently, he was the executive vice president for marketing at World Wrestling Entertainment. He has consulted with several non-profit organizations, helping them advance their missions through strategic marketing efforts.
What do you wish more Americans knew about climate change?
I wish more Americans had a sense as to how climate might affect them personally. I think we all need to do a better job of delivering the message on health impacts – increased asthma rates, Lyme disease, etc. Conversely, I think we also need to do a better job of socializing success stories that offer hope. People tend to get overwhelmed and therefore tune out. We have to paint a picture that success is achievable.
What are current climate initiatives or efforts that inspire you/give you hope that we will effectively address climate change, even with the dearth of federal leadership on the issue?
The big “aha” for me in 2017 has been the courageous efforts on the parts of state and local governments and corporate executives. When you see Jeff Immelt (former Chairman of GE) and Bob Iger (CEO of Disney) making pointed comments about what they are doing and what the administration needs to do, that’s terrific. Similarly, the Under2 coalition that California Governor Jerry Brown has formed is another bright point. They now have 187 governments signed on. That represents 39% of the global economy.
What do you hope/believe the American Climate Leadership Summit will accomplish in moving the needle on climate action?
We need greater alignment. Years ago I heard an analysis that there were 22,000 environmental groups in the United States. I can’t imagine how many they are now, and how many are focused on climate. There is a tremendous amount of well-intentioned activity. I think the role of convenings like this one is to socialize concepts and move to more concerted action. We can’t have enough coordination to maximize impact.
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