Gary Hart delivers keynote speech for Aspen Renewable Energy Day | AspenTimes.com

Gary Hart delivers keynote speech for Aspen Renewable Energy Day

Charles Agar

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart delivered the keynote address Saturday for the third annual Aspen Renewable Energy Day to a nearly full Paepcke Auditorium.”We will never be secure if we continue to pursue the same energy policies,” said Hart, who represented Colorado as a Democrat. Hart claims that long ago he predicted terrorist attacks in the U.S. and says that risking American lives in Iraq for the sake of oil is “immoral.””We will get war,” he said of U.S. ambitions in the Middle East. “We won’t get oil.””Climate changes are happening,” he said, and predicts that the decisions we make in the next 10 to 20 years not only will determine the survival of the economy, but also the survival of democracy and the human race.

“These are not ordinary times,” Hart said. “We’re living in a revolutionary age, and we need revolutionary leaders who understand that.”Hart proposes a plan of “energy security” – what he also called a “21st-century security” – which would include feeding, clothing and taking care of people, as well as using efficient renewable energy sources to end reliance on foreign oil.Admitting that talking about energy conservation in Aspen was like “preaching to a Baptist choir,” he stressed that “energy and vitality on state and local level could mean our salvation.”Amory Lovins, a research physicist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, followed Hart’s comments by discussing the nuts and bolts of switching to alternative energy sources.

Hart’s speech capped a full day of events on Aspen’s Cooper Avenue mall, which was busy with open-air booths touting everything from energy-saving light bulbs to state-of-the-art solar technology. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, addressed a loose gathering and challenged locals to “Make conservation cool” and find alternative solutions – the governor’s car runs on 100 percent farm products. Next, Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud warned about the city’s future, saying: “Without snow, we are no longer a winter sports resort.”Klanderud outlined Aspen’s bold steps for conservation. The Canary Initiative, which the City Council passed in March 2005, makes Aspen the proverbial “canary in the mine” for global warming. Dan Richardson, manager of Aspen’s global warming project, will lead the initiative to assess Aspen’s air quality and emissions, as well as determine the impact of global temperature change in order to find solutions.

Boulder Mayor Mark Russern took the stage and outlined the similar program in his city. “You’re certainly an inspiration to us in Boulder,” he said, offering Aspen as a model for places like Denver and Chicago.Organizer Chip Cummins touted the day a success.”In just a few short years, we have been able to attract such important leaders in every field,” he said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.

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