Speaking at a conference on international security last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said: “Climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. Food and water shortages,...continued→
Peter Lehner, Executive Director, New York City
I am the Executive Director of NRDC. The position is my second at NRDC. Beginning in 1994, I led the Clean Water Program for five years, before leaving in 1999 to serve as the head of the Environmental Protection Bureau for the Attorney General of the State of New York.
My first experience with NRDC dates back to 1980, when I worked on environmental issues in Washington, DC. President Reagan had just been elected and environmentalists needed to strengthen their efforts. After law school, I worked for the New York City Law Department. NRDC was working hard to protect the city's drinking water supply, so I joined forces with NRDC and, on behalf of the city, sued polluters. I also joined with NRDC in suing President Reagan's Department of Transportation for rolling back fuel economy standards. This was the very first lawsuit brought on the grounds of global warming. I knew then that NRDC was thinking big, and committed to solving complex problems over the long haul.
Cases like this underscore why I became an environmental lawyer in the first place: if you are right on the law, you can make tremendous progress. NRDC has distinguished itself by a history of groundbreaking environmental work. Through our lawyers, lobbyists, scientists and media experts, we're able not only to find solutions, but to do the hard work of putting them into place. This is part of why NRDC is, in my opinion, the leading environmental organization in the nation. And it's why I'm honored to be back.
Before I gained any of this professional experience, my dedication to protecting the environment began as I suspect it does for many people -- by spending a lot of time in the outdoors. I spent most of my youth mucking around in the woods near where I grew up, and then as I grew older I spent a lot of time hiking and climbing and canoeing and kayaking. I still try to get out every weekend and, when I do, I'm reminded of how quickly the planet is changing, and how much it needs our protection.
Growing coffee is a proud, 200-year old tradition in Costa Rica. About half of Costa Rica’s coffee is produced by small farmers, many of whom run small, shade-grown coffee operations. But Costa Rica’s coffee industry is shrinking. Over the past...continued→
If every public school in the United States saved 10 percent on energy costs by installing solar power, that would be enough money to hire 16,825 new teachers. Imagine what this would mean for our schools and our children, to...continued→
When the first hybrid cars hit the streets, people would point and stare, even stop owners on the street to ask questions. Was it a fad? A novelty? A toy for green enthusiasts? Time has proven otherwise. In the first...continued→
Posted November 13, 2013 by Peter Lehner
When I was growing up, my mother wouldn’t let us have a dog. So we tamed chipmunks and squirrels in our backyard, and the birds who came to our feeder. As I got older, and started to visit more remote...continued→
Posted November 12, 2013 by Peter Lehner
In 1970, the artist Robert Rauschenberg created a poster for the first Earth Day, a bold image of a bald eagle superimposed atop photos of environmental destruction—a simple collage, and yet a powerful, visceral call to action. Art, as Rauschenberg...continued→
My colleagues in China just sent me this fascinating image posted on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter. It’s a collage of photos of the sky over Beijing, taken from the same spot every weekday for about a year, between March 2012...continued→
I’ve been privileged to work on behalf of New York’s environment for decades, both in government and in my work with NRDC. I was recently asked to assess, a year in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, how we’re doing in...continued→
It’s been nearly a year since Superstorm Sandy crashed into the heart of the Northeast, killing more than 100 people and causing more than $60 billion in damage in New York and New Jersey alone. The storm’s toll made one...continued→
Around this time last year, the Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District in Fresno County, California, was able to reinstate the music program it had lost three years earlier. The district’s 2,300 kids got their music back, not because of a...continued→
Which energy source has had the biggest impact on meeting America’s energy needs over the past forty years? It’s not coal. It’s not oil. Not wind or nuclear. Believe it or not, it’s even bigger than all of those combined....continued→
Posted October 7, 2013 by Peter Lehner
I always travel with my swim goggles, just in case I have a chance to get into the water. They came in handy the other day when I was kayaking off the coast of Palos Verdes in Southern California. I...continued→
Posted September 25, 2013 by Peter Lehner
Point Reyes National Seashore is one of my favorite places in northern California. I go there often. From the seashore’s rocky point, I’ve seen migrating gray whales, breeching and spyhopping. The wide, long beaches are wonderful for exploring, walking and...continued→
Posted September 24, 2013 by Peter Lehner
When Russ Kremer, a fifth generation hog farmer from Missouri, was gored in the knee by one of his Yorkshire boars, he figured it was a routine injury. But the cut got infected. His knee swelled up to twice its...continued→
Posted September 18, 2013 by Peter Lehner
Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That’s nearly half our food, wasted--not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it...continued→
Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.