Tom Rand speaks to Laurier about the climate change crisis

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Tom Rand, Canadian climate change expert, venture capitalist and entrepreneur, delivered a powerful talk at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus last Wednesday, March 28.

Students gathered at Laurier’s Lazaridis Hall to listen to Rand address what is explored in his book, Waking the Frog: Solutions for our Climate Change Paralysis; the understanding that society has collectively become paralyzed with fear that we are in a crisis of climate change.

“We have 10 years to turn the ship around and we’re not going to do it by writing tip books on how to lower one’s carbon footprint,” Rand said.

Taking concrete action to lower personal carbon emissions by riding your bike to work and eliminating red meat from your diet are simplistic, everyday things to reduce your impact on the environment that Rand urges.

However, he places much greater emphasis on a more impactful, long-term solution that looks at climate change through a pragmatic, economic and political lens.

“We live in a democracy and we will get action on climate that we demand of our government,” Rand said.

.“There is a lack of political engagement. The first thing we need to do is hold every single political party accountable and demand that they take a strong position on climate change.”

“Figuring out ways to provide clean-tech solutions that scale up and compete with fossil fuels is a long-term, wealth-generating notion,” Rand said. “The idea that we think we can commit to a national economic strategy by simply melting and selling tar has enormous risks associated with it.”

When asked what inspired him to work in the sector of sustainability and climate change, Rand replied:

“Climate change is an existential question for our civilization and I don’t think that’s an overstatement. If we don’t get it right, everything we take for granted, including the social fabric that allows for a civilized, ongoing economic machine in which we live in relative peace and prosperity, will be broken and I need to do something about it.”

Students for Sustainability, an environmental club at Laurier, coordinated the talk to encourage measures towards climate action. Their mission aims to foster future leaders of our environment in the surrounding community of Kitchener -Waterloo.

Rand is also the Lead Advisor at the MaRS Discovery District in downtown Toronto, where he focuses his efforts on new ventures that support renewable energy and energy efficiency.

In addition, Rand established Planet Traveller, North America’s greenest hotel equipped with the latest clean technology including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, recyclable hot water and high-efficiency lighting.

“The idea that a hotel is green because there’s a little less water coming out of a shower head or it serves organic milk is completely irrelevant,” Rand said.

“It’s a distraction from the real game. The real game is carbon.”

Rand’s first published book, Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save the World, examines how innovative technologies can bring a clean future, making dirty fossil fuels obsolete.

He is featured in numerous articles in The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business Magazine, Canadian Business Journal and the Toronto Star and has made frequent appearances on CBC’s On the Money network program.

Students for Sustainability, an environmental club at Laurier, coordinated the talk to encourage measures towards climate action. Their mission aims to foster future leaders of our environment in the surrounding community of Kitchener -Waterloo.


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