Happy Birthday to the First Major World Leader Who Took Climate Change Seriously

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter – A True Environmentalist – Turned 97 this October 1st

By Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted October 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Jimmy Carter, during his years in the White House

After he moved into the White House in 1977 as the 39th President of the United States, one of the things he did earlier on was install solar panels on its roof.

Wow, was the reaction of many at a time when solar panels still almost something in the range of science fiction technology and were rare to see anywhere.

Jimmy Carter was also the first leader of any Western industrial nation I can recall who raised serious warnings about carbon emissions (greenhouse gases, they were more often called at the time) and climate change, and who embarked on programs to develop renewable energy.

Later on during his all-too-short, four years in the White House, when the world found itself facing an oil shortage that had much to do with turmoil in the Middle East, Carter urged Americans, during the winter months, to turning down thermostats and dressing more heavily at home.

He also lowered the speed limit on American highways to 55 miles per hour, which proved to reduce r gas consumption and traffic fatalities, but was akin to committing political suicide in a country where the car was, and to some extent still is, king.

Then U.S. President Jimmy Carter in Niagara Falls, New York in 1980, with Lois Gibbs, president of the then Love Canal Homeowners’ Association, after signing a second emergency declaration, to help Gibbs’ family and hundreds o

Before he failed to win a second term as President in 1981, Carter signed not one, but two declarations of emergency to help literally hundreds of residents leave the homes in and around the leaking Love Canal toxic waste dump in Niagara Falls, New York without losing their shirts.

Short after Carter left the White House, his Republican successor, Ronald Reagan, had the solar panels on the roof unceremoniously removed and he raised the speed limits on highways. He also proceeded to weaken rules for safeguarding the environment and gutted funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which under Carter had developed a well-deserved reputation as a world-class defender of the planet.

A few years after Carter left the presidency, he and his wife Rosalynn came to Niagara to see the Falls and while here, made a quite visit to Vineland, where they visited a care and rehabilitation centre for injured owls that was owned and operated by the great “owl lady” herself, the now late Kay McKeever.

How Carter found out about the owl sanctuary from his home in Plains, Georgia must have had something to do with his keen interest in the natural world. I remember vesting the sanctuary later, in my role then as environment reporter for The St. Catharines Standard, and McKeever, who was not one to b.s people, had nothing but nice things to say about the former president and first lady.

McKeever said she studied the protocol for addressing a U.S. president before the visit, but when she called Carter ‘Mr. President’ upon greeting him; he responded; ‘Please call me Jimmy’.

Former U.S. President and his wife Rosalynn, to the right of Kay McKeever (at centre and wearing a blue top) during a 1980s trip to McKeever’s Owl Sanctuary in Vineland, Niagara. “Just call me Jimmy,” the former President said to Kay McKeever at the time.

I heard equally glowing words for the Carters from Niagara Parks staff who guided them on a tour around the Falls at the time, and from my father, years later, when the former president signed a book from him called ‘An Outdoor Journal’.

I could go on and on about Carter’s great work with ‘Habitat for Humanity’ and other programs aimed at making lives better for people.

Over my many years as an environment reporter, I often thought how much better off we might be if he had more time in the White House to pursue renewable energy and other environmental protection projects, and to address the emerging climate issue before it turned in to the world-wide emergency it is today.

All the best to you Jimmy Carter.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

To watch a recently produced documentary on Jimmy Carter, click on the screen immediately below –

To read a piece posted in Niagara At Large on Jimmy Carter in 2019, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/03/22/honouring-a-u-s-president-who-cared-about-people-and-the-environment/ .

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders


One response to “Happy Birthday to the First Major World Leader Who Took Climate Change Seriously

  1. Happy Birthday, Jimmy Carter! 😊🌍


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