Published October 19th, 2016
Building a Case for Sustainable Energy In Simple Terms
By Sophie Braccini
Jim Leach Photo Sophie Braccini
After Lafayette resident Jim Leach retired from Epicor Software, he decided he would learn more about a topic that interested him: global warming. His quest led him to fill a gap that he perceives existed in the literature on that topic: explaining in 50 pages and in everyday English the catastrophic consequences, causes and remedy to climate change. The result is his book "The Sustainable Way" and his goal is to equip everyone with the knowledge base to spread the word and change the world in the time we have left.

"What really sparked my passion is that we are facing a catastrophe and that there are solutions available at our fingertips today," he says. His diagnosis is that the most powerful interest in the world, the fossil fuel industry, has successfully fought off the efforts to bring forth those solutions. He also realized that the information out there was complete and exhaustive and has been doing a good job preaching to the choir.

"But if you go to the working class group I grew up with in Indiana, they are not educated on the subject, and there is no information easily accessible to them," he says.

He looked for books available to the average consumer, but found nothing that was an efficient communication tool. "There was nothing that was to the point, straight forward without confusing science," he said. He started an outline and got to a point where he thought it could write that missing book in under 100 pages and get it down below 50.

"Where else can you get a quick, accurate and thoughtful summary of the climate crisis and its solutions in less than 40 pages for under $6? Right in this gem of a book," says Wei-Tai Kwok, chief operating officer of Amber Kinetics, volunteer public speaker on climate change for the Climate Reality Project, and Sustainable Lafayette board member. Kwok says that Leach excels at taking a complicated issue and simplifying it for the average reader to understand in lay terms.

"Climate change is happening, but there are solutions available that we must quickly embrace. If you want to get a quick but solid understanding of the key issues, key barriers to change, and key paths forward, this book will save you a lot of time," says Kwok.

The first chapter opens with a dramatic futuristic view of the world. "Most books soft-pedal the consequences, or if they do not, they get so long to get there that readers never reach it," says Leach. In his book, he describes the possibility of two scenarios: the one we are on, and the one we could be on.

The second chapter explains what causes global warming with layman vocabulary and no acronyms. He explains feedback loops, tipping points and interactions using simple terms, but still explaining accurately complex phenomenon. What he says is simplified to make it easily understood and memorized. The book also includes a list of scientific reference work for those who want to dig further.

The third chapter is called the forces of denial. It explains that there are people who do not have the scientific knowledge to grasp the magnitude of the forces playing in the environment, or that others deny global warming because of their religious ideology is resisting science. He gives the example of Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma, who is still the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Leach believes that the fossil fuel industry has successfully politicized the issues, moving it from a scientific debate to becoming a polarized irrational topic.

The last part of the book shows the paths to sustainability, with the possible solutions that exist today and should be enacted now.

Leach says that doing the research has led him and his family to change some elements of their lifestyle, such as their red meat consumption. He is also very happy that Lafayette joined Marin Choice Energy (community choice energy). "The transition to renewable energy will also move the ownership of energy from world-level players to the local level," he says.

Leach does not know if in his readership are people who changed their mind because of his explanations. "But I heard that the book gave (my readers) some tools to communicate with people who are questioning global warming," he says. He would like the people of Lamorinda to take more of an informed interest in the issue and share it with their families and friends all over the country.

Leach's book can be found on Amazon.

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Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA