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John Cerveny: Al Gore Trained Global Warming Presenter

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I first met John last year when I visited his and Terri’s home on the Solar Tour. Over the years they had improved their home with: upgraded the insulation, high efficiency natural gas boiler for new radiant heat system, 4.5 kW PV system, 160 ft. sq. flat plate solar thermal system, CFL and LED lighting, water barrels, PV solar awning, and more. His house will be on the Solar & Green Building tour this year – see Tour details...
By day John works for the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST). They are a statewide non-profit industry association dedicated to building and growing the advanced battery and energy storage industry in the State. It is a membership-based organization and presently has about 120 members spanning academia, industry and government.

I recently caught up with John and learned he had just completed training by the Climate Reality Project to give Al Gore's talk on global warming. He is available to give the talk to interested groups in the region (cerveny@yahoo.com). 

I had some questions and John had great answers. Comments are welcome!

DG: Why are you concerned about Global Warming?

JC: I'm concerned about global warming for reasons that are, I think, pretty representative of people in general. I want my children and their children to live in a hospitable world, one where 500 year floods don't occur every few years, and where fully half of the US is in moderate to extreme drought every summer. This isn't about "saving the planet" so much as saving ourselves--the planet will survive intense warming and has done so in the past, but as a species, we need to look out for our own interests and act to stop the most extreme conditions from happening. We can do this, but we need to act, and to do it now.

DG: When did you become concerned?

JC: I've always loved nature. Growing up as a kid in Iowa, nearly all of my best memories revolve around some aspect of the natural world...sitting in the back yard listening to cicadas sing their songs, sleeping out on a hot summer night because our non air-conditioned house was too warm, hiking and camping as a boy scout, fishing with my dad...all those experiences shaped and molded me in ways that forged a deep respect and love for nature. Seeking to protect it from drastic harm at the hands of human GHG [green house gas] emissions seems to me like a no-brainer--particularly when we have solutions at hand to drastically reduce those emissions and forever alter the path forward for the better.  For example, my wife and I have made investments in our rather typical 4 bedroom colonial house that have resulted in our using about half the energy of our neighbors, and several of those same neighbors have now made their own investments at least partly because they've seen what we did and how it's worked for us.

DG: What is the one fact or observation that most makes you believe Climate Change is happening?

JC: I grew up in a state where a large percentage of people make their living by working the land--Iowa is the heart of corn, soybeans, cattle and pig production--so I grew up with a healthy respect for, and awareness of the weather. The changes in the weather in my home state are unprecedented. Just a few years ago, my home town of Cedar Rapids was the site of major flooding when extremely heavy rains hit the region. Thousands of residents lost their homes, most of the downtown business district was wiped out and countless farms were flooded and their crops destroyed. Since that time, the same areas have been hit by extreme drought that again wiped out entire crop harvests. The thing is, my hometown and home state are not outliers in their experience of severe and extreme weather events. Just this past summer, over half of all the counties in the US were classified as being in severe to extreme drought conditions--and events worldwide are similar and in some cases, even more severe. These kinds of changes--severe drought and severe downpours--were both predicted and expected under leading climate change models, so when I see them happening all around the globe, it provides very strong evidence that global warming has become our reality. My hope and belief is that we can rally and make changes now that will offset the worst outcomes.

DG: What made you want to speak publically?

JC: I feel like the issue is too important to allow it to be sidelined, ridiculed or ignored as it has been in the current political environment. Absent real leadership on the issue from our elected officials, my belief is that we need to tackle this as best we can by sharing the story and inciting action at all levels in every way possible. 

DG: What have you done prior to investing in being trained?

JC: My career has been built in starting and growing a number of clean technology businesses and some of them are having a real impact and making a difference. I’ve also never been shy about sharing what I know, and as the youngest of nine kids, I learned early how to get my point across and be heard. I enjoy sharing what I know about renewable energy technologies and can help anyone interested to navigate the process from beginning to end, including how to access the various state and federal incentives that can help to offset initial costs.

DG: Where did you go for the training?

JC: The training was held August 20-22, in a hotel adjacent to the San Francisco airport. There was no cost for participants, but we had to pay our own travel and lodging expenses. This was the largest such training in the US and the sixth overall session that had been held. 1000 of us trainees participated, including Bette Midler--who sat at the table next to me and took copious notes throughout the sessions. Al Gore led the sessions all day on the second day. He started by giving the full presentation and then went back through literally chart by chart giving us background and additional information about the images, charts and the overall structure and intent. 

DG: How long was the training?

JC: Sessions ran between four and ten hours each day, with social events after.

DG: How long is your presentation? Can the length be tailored to the group meeting time available?

JC: The full presentation runs something like 90 minutes, but it can be tailored to fit time available as well as the specific interests of the audience, e.g., there are modules that focus on specific issue areas that can be added as appropriate.  The current version of the presentation is updated regularly and as a trained presenter, I have access to the latest and best information. 

DG: How far will you travel to present it? And is there a minimum group size?

JC: I'm willing to consider all requests. My job has me on the road all over New York state, so with some time to coordinate, I can get to a lot of places. I'm willing to consider any size group. 

DG: Do you charge a fee for speaking?

JC: No. No one involved or trained by the Climate Reality Project is allowed to receive payment (other than travel expenses) for giving the talk. 

DG: How is the best way to contact you?

JG: Best way to reach me is my email, cerveny@yahoo.com

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