Donald Addu – Citizen’s Climate Lobby

petite young woman with several degrees in environmental related areas named Katie Rose Levin joined the Club a little less than a year ago. Among other things she is the is the co-founder of the non-profit TreesDurham and volunteers with a non-partisan group called Citizens’ Climate Lobby. In April Katie, now a professional arborist, delivered a program on the history of trees in Durham.  And now in May Katie has brought us a program delivered by her husband, Donald Addu, who is the Southeast Regional Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. 

Mr. Addu is a native North Carolinian and graduate of Appalachian State university with a degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology. He has spent over ten years now advocating for renewable energy and action on climate change.  In 2011 he founded the first Citizens’ Climate Lobby group in North Carolina and is currently the Southeast Director managing over 40 active groups spanning the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. This means that he spends most of his time focusing on two things, grassroots organizing and direct Congressional lobbying.  

It turns out one of the things grassroots organizing means is speaking to Rotary Clubs and other organizations throughout his region.  And it showed. His presentation was polished and delivered with conviction. As anyone who pays attention at all knows, climate change is growing as an issue and an existential challenge to the way we live and the future of civilization. Even major corporations and our defense department now see it as a threat if things like expanding deserts and rising seas cause massive migrations and threats to our infrastructure and agriculture 

Mr. Addu was well prepared for some polite but skeptical questioning which led one to wonder that if this is what he got in a progressive community like Durham, what must it be in more conservative areas of his Southeast territory. But even so, the questioning didn’t focus on the reality of climate change but more about the solutions.  

Asked about the “window” we have for doing anything to correct it, Mr. Addu did not embrace the conventional wisdom that we have about 12 years to turn things around. He feels that we are too late and that the best we can do is stabilize it.  

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s big push is H.R. 763, a bipartisan climate solution which would institute a carbon tax. This is based on the theory that most of the costs of carbon pollution are hidden, that is, they are paid for by the gradual degradation of the planet. The problem is that while we can neglect maintenance on a car until the wheels fall off and then buy another one, this is the only planet available to us and we’ve deferred maintenance as long as we can. Much more information about the group and HR 763 is on their website at 

As I added my name with a handful of other Rotarians to the list at  the back of the room to join the group, it occurred to me once again that it’s a virtual certainty that I won’t live to see the worst affects of climate change if it is not abated, but the cute little 7 year old that dashes around my house these days most certainly will and she’ll be wondering long after I’m gone, “what the hell were they thinking back then?” 

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