My Climate Change Journey

    By Dave Jourdan

My earliest memory of the impact of climate change was as a young grade schooler, probably about 12 years old, around 1966. I was really interested in astronomy and science fiction — Isaac Asimov was a favorite author. I learned that the planet Venus, heretofore thought to be a “twin” of Earth, possibly a tropical paradise, was revealed by radio telescope observations and spacecraft flybys to be hellishly hot (over 800°F), crushingly dense (100 atmospheres), and raining sulfuric acid. The explanation for this condition is an atmosphere composed largely of carbon dioxide, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect. I read that this could happen to Earth if carbon dioxide rose too high.

My high school and college years coincided with the Energy Crisis of the 1970’s. Our concern at the time was not climate change, but rather the threat that the world would run out of oil. Now we wish it had! But for a while the world was concerned with energy conservation. As a college physics class project my roommate and I built a solar powered electric car (well, golf cart!) and my first job out of college was an energy management project at a Navy base. As it turned out, the world found more oil and we continued to burn fossil fuels at an ever growing rate.

My naval service as a nuclear engineer gave me an appreciation for the benefits of nuclear power in mitigating climate change and the environmental damage of burning fossil fuels. Though my civilian career focused on ocean exploration, I became increasingly aware of climate change and its effects. I took a number of opportunities to work with environmental projects, among them an initiative using cold deep-ocean water to generate power, produce fresh water, provide air conditioning, and even enhanced agriculture.

Today I am working with a wave energy converter project, have installed solar panels on my home, and own a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The opportunity to work with the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative is a welcome chance to continue to do what I can to slow the rise.

Pictured: Dave Jourdan (left) and KCI Ambassador Jack Reetz (right).