Energized Aspen AREDAY expanding its mission | AspenTimes.com

Energized Aspen AREDAY expanding its mission

Jeanne McGovernThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – AREDAY once stood for Aspen Renewable Energy Day. Now, in its seventh year, AREDAY – today an acronym for American Renewable Energy Day – represents a much larger audience, a much larger event and a much larger mission.”What began as a one-day meeting is now a national – and international – summit,” said Chip Comins, founder of AREDAY, which officially runs Thursday through Sunday in Aspen, with a free public film festival scheduled for Wedneday at the Aspen District Theatre. “And the reason for its growth is simple: The discussions we were having in Aspen is part of a dialogue that is about things happening anywhere and everywhere. “The reality is the issue of renewable energy and climate change is bigger than Aspen, so the event has changed to reflect that, while using Aspen’s status as a leader in these arenas to create a world-class event that can, hopefully, make a difference.”In fact, this year’s AREDAY is a who’s who of people in the financial and environmental sectors – including Ted Turner, James Cameron, Gov. Bill Ritter, local environmental icon Amory Lovins and others – gathered in one place for four days of discussions, presentations, demonstrations and films screenings with a common goal: “AREDAY is our day, and it’s not just one day, it’s every day … it’s about things we should be concerned with every day,” said Comins, who is co-director of this year’s event with Sally Ranney. Among the event’s highlights, according to Comins, is an “armchair conversation” on Saturday night between Turner and Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. The pair will address the United States’ capability of replacing greenhouse gas-intensive coal and oil – first with cleaner-burning natural gas as a transition fuel, and then with clean energy sources. Also of note, and a major theme of this year’s AREDAY, is how pop culture can change the mindset of the public. “An example of this idea is James Cameron’s Oscar-winning 2009 film, ‘Avatar,'” Comins said. “The fact that climate change is real is permeating the public psyche through films such as ‘Avatar,’ television, music and art. It’s imperative to connect the science of climate change to these outlets, because popular culture has such a pervasive effect on public perception.”Cameron will present a special edition director’s-cut screening of the film on Sunday, as part of AREDAY’s Environmental Film Series.The idea of linking pop culture with the renewable energy/climate change movement is being taken a step further this year with the launching of the Climate & Energy Literacy Initiative (ACELI).”It looks like climate knowledge is the IQ test that Americans tend to fail badly,” Comins said. “We hope to change that through the ACELI program.”According to Comins, ACELI will develop and implement climate and energy curriculum for U.S. public schools and universities. It is, he said, just another avenue – like AREDAY – to raise public awareness and create a new future.”We need to change how Americans see energy – it is not just something that just comes out of the wall,” Comins said, adding that he hopes giving each day of AREDAY its own focus will engage audiences of all ages and interests, as will Sunday’s free all-day Expo.”Renewable energy and climate change is something we should all be concerned about and something we all need to take control of.”This is a situation we cannot continue to ignore, and that’s what AREDAY is all about.”AREDAY runs Thursday through Sunday at venues in Aspen. Tickets, including locals’ passes and single-event tickets, are available through Aspen Show Tickets at the Wheeler Opera House, 920-5770. A complete schedule of speakers and events, including those free and open to the public, is available at http://www.areday.net.jmcgovern@aspentimes.com

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