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WomanOf the Month 5-07: ?An Inconvenient Truth? Producer Laurie David

What does the Academy Award-winning producer of “An Inconvenient Truth” urge individuals to do to help stop global warming? “Look at your circle,” says Laurie David. “Your church, your business, your family, your neighbors and friends. These are the people you can influence. This is not about everyone doing everything, but about everyone doing something. We are all emitting carbon in how we live, and we can all make changes.”

Environmental issues have absorbed David ever since she would walk her baby in a stroller in her neighborhood and see all the SUVs on the road. “No-one was connecting the dots on the effect these vehicles were having on the environment,apostrophe she says. “I began reading more about it. Knowledge is a burden, and I felt forced to do something.apostrophe David spoke recently at an event in Denver presented by Fresh City Life and Greenprint Denver. Mayor John Hickenlooper posed questions to the activist.

It is hard to imagine anyone more passionate about her subject. David recently completed a tour with musician Sheryl Crow of college campuses and other venues. As the opening act, she presented information on sustainability and global warming. Her book, The Solution is You: Stop Global Warming—An Activist’s Guide, provides a multitude of tips on how individuals can fight global warming and strive for sustainability in their daily lives. She has written a book for middle and high school students that will be published in fall 2007. She’s also produced a comedy special, “Earth to America!apostrophe and HBO’s documentary film “Too Hot Not to Handleapostrophe.

But the seriousness of David’s pursuits haven’t made her pessimistic or morose—she’s very funny and stresses that scientists’ conviction that we can reverse global warming is a reason to be optimistic. Her heroes, beyond the obvious environmental leaders such asAl Gore, who narrated “An Inconvenient Truth,apostrophe are unsung workers at local and national groups. “There are hundreds of lawyers who could be making the big bucks at law firms,apostrophe she says. “Instead they are working at nonprofits for environmental causes. All those people are my heroes.apostrophe

David met Gore when he was on a panel she moderated after a viewing of “The Day After Tomorrowapostrophe, a film that depicted the disastrous future effects of global warming. “I was floored by the slide show he had developed,apostrophe she recalls. “I asked him to present the show to larger audiences and he committed. I knew right away I wanted to make a movie so it could reach many more people. Here he was, willing to go around the country just presenting this slide show to 10 people or so at a time in an effort to make a difference.apostrophe

There are so many ways individuals can help reduce global warming in their everyday lives, David keeps reminding her audiences. “I’ve encouraged schools not to allow idling of cars in car pool lines,apostrophe she says. “When I went to Australia I saw that no one uses plastic bags when they shop. They bring their own bags. A friend of mine picked up on that opportunity in the U.S. and now sells canvas bags to be reused for shopping and has a great business going. Take chargers out of walls when you’re not using them. As long as they are in there, you’re using electricity. I’m also a big believer in complaining. If for instance a landlord isn’t making some green changes you’d like to see made, get together with other tenants and start complaining.apostrophe

While the U.S. media may seem to finally be jumping on the bandwagon with cover stories on the environment, David still runs up against plenty of skeptics. “They are grossly misinformed in disregarding the opinion of 2,000 scientists around the world and the agreement of 120 countries,apostrophe she says. “It’s unethical and at this point, irresponsible.apostrophe

The rest of the world is far more engaged in stopping global warming than is the U.S., and for that reason, David is focused on the states. “In Norway, Sweden, and Great Britain “An Inconvenient Truthapostrophe is required viewing for every high school student,apostrophe she says. “In the U.S., we’re throwing out 2.5 million water bottles an hour. Is that acceptable?apostrophe she asks. “Your kids will think this is acceptable.apostrophe

Scientists have had the information on warming for more than a decade, but the U.S. has failed to act, she says. Now the public is realizing that rather that the environment being a sidelight issue, it impacts every single person. “We are protecting more than beautiful days,apostrophe she says. “It’s an issue of national security, public health, and economic security. In the next campaign, the issues should be, jobs, terrorism, and temperature.apostrophe

David recently completed a bus tour with rock star Sheryl Crow to college campuses where she was the opening act. She is thrilled at the steps many students are taking to make their campuses more carbon neutral. And, of course, she had a camera with her on the bus, and her next movie will be about the tour.

&What would she tell the next president to do for the environment? “Move fast to freeze and reduce carbon emissions, increase support for renewables, and undertake a massive conservation program. As a result you’ll see the biggest job boom in 150 years, created in the environmental industry,apostrophe she says.