How much will one man do to ensure a safe future for his 21-month old granddaughter?
Meet Sailesh Rao. In 2006, he educated himself about climate change and realized it’s an accelerating threat. He wanted to join the fight to save our planet. He went from being a serial entrepreneur to starting a non-profit called Climate Healers in 2007. He also moved from New Jersey to California and joined Al Gore’s presenter network.
In 2008, Sailesh became deeply aware of the animal cruelty and forest destruction his diet was fueling. He became vegan.
While there has been some contention over the science, in 2011 it was confirmed by World Bank scientists that livestock (meat and dairy industries) accounts for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2009, Sailesh and 70 presenters wrote an “elephant” letter to Al Gore asking him to include the impact of the livestock sector in the presentations, and acknowledge the giant elephant in the room. They sent a similar elephant letter earlier this month. Gore has yet to make this issue a major part of his presentation or project.
Over the last 2 days, Al Gore has been training over 900 people from around the world to give his climate presentation. Operation Missing Link (Op_ML) a grassroots organization formed to ask Mr. Gore to give livestock as much time as he gives to oil and gas in his climate change presentations. We were there with signage and brochures to educate and engage with trainees to ask Mr. Gore to address this missing link. Our most popular sign said, “Mr. Gore, we need your full leadership on climate change, 51% is missing.”
So far we’ve talked to over 200 trainees who support our position.
Sailesh came outside and spoke to us on Day 1, and showed us a handout that Gore’s organizers had issued, forbidding trainees and mentors from speaking to “protestors.” No reason was given for this, although it was framed as a security issue.
Wait! What? Op_ML was not protesting; rather we were interested in augmenting Gore’s work and encouraging him to include 51% of the problem in his training. And we posed no security threat; if anything, we were armed with water, peaches, and trail mix, because being outside in the sun talking passionately for 5 hours is hard work!
On Day 1, we wrote a blog post about our interactions with trainees, which Sailesh shared with his fellow mentors and trainees on their Facebook page. Yesterday, Day 2, Sailesh’s access to that page was revoked, and he was warned not to speak to us again.
Today was Day 3, the last day of the training. Sailesh came out to speak to us, and he had his granddaughter with him. Check out this video of what Sailesh had to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNgLOTqaWiI&feature=youtu.be
In the meantime, Al Gore needs to step up his game and focus on the pink elephant in the room. The planet has enough problems without leaders withholding important solutions from people who trust them.
Climate change is about real impacts on real people – around the world AND here. Some of us in the U.S have been suffering for a while with severe drought, and the recent blackouts in the North East show how fast it can get really bad. What can we do?
Not all of us can afford solar, Al Gore’s touted solution. But, as founder of Op_ML, Kamal Prasad often says: we all eat.
The most important and immediate way to slow down climate change is to eliminate or reduce animal products from our diet.
Let’s start now. Show the meat and dairy companies that you can demand something different, not sit back and let a dangerous status quo continue. Vegan products are already available, so the change need not be extreme. Go at your own pace. Find a buddy.
The benefits? Better health (diabetes, obesity, heart diease anyone?), no cruelty, and a safe world for our children.
Dedicate your actions to a special child in your life. Sailesh has, so that he can look his granddaughter, Kimaya, in the eye as she grows up and starts asking, “What are you doing to stop climate change, grandpa?”
Op_ML’s previous blog post:
Sailesh’s recent blog post: