“Wolves need Colorado, and Colorado needs wolves,” says Jim Alexee, director of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter. Seems like a tough sell, especially to ranchers who fear for their livestock. Not really, says Jim, whose incredible leaders and volunteers have organized thousands of hours of in-person conversations to help ranchers and landowners better understand the science of gray wolves and ecosystem health. “We have incredible wolf experts who travel Colorado to explain how wolves have a widespread positive impact. They create a healthier, more functional, more sustainable and more diverse ecosystem.”
If you can convince people to embrace wolves, you should be able to persuade them to embrace renewable energy, right? Well, maybe. While Alexee says direct education has been critical to reestablishing the gray wolf in Colorado, a challenge as urgent as climate change takes a more comprehensive approach. “We’re using every tool in the toolbox,” he tells us. “Litigation, organization, online action, lobbying, public education—whatever it takes.”
People have come to accept that climate change is real. “The challenge now resides with getting people to understand there’s a way out of this mess,” he says. Too many are unaware that renewable energy has become cost-competitive with fossil fuels. “We have a viable, realistic option, today. And if we start working towards it now, we’ll get there in the next 12 to 15 years.” The Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 is a national campaign to get cities to commit to 100 percent clean energy. Sound like a pipe dream? Aspen, Colorado got there in 2015. Boulder just committed to 100% by 2030. San Diego is on its way, as are other cities and towns across the country. “There is nothing standing in the way except for entrenched players and the lack of political will,” says Alexee.
Overcoming those obstacles will require the mobilization of a tremendous number of people. Fortunately, the Sierra Club has a large and growing base of member support. Places like Colorado inspire action and help drive the movement forward. “There are places here that are so pristine they have never been touched,” Alexee says. “We have these majestic lands and they are worth defending.”
People who live in less pristine environs also have a stake and a drive to make change, says Alexee. You’re seeing it in the Ready for 100 campaign, where idyllic Aspen and more urban cities like San Jose are coming together. “We’re finding that harmony, and acknowledging that if we don’t work together no one will end up ahead,” Alexee says. “There is no either/or approach to solving these challenges.”