With the release of former Vice President Al Gore's 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," environmental activism reached a tipping point in the country, as millions of Americans were exposed to the negative effects green house gas emissions had on the planet. But for Glendale resident Gary Gero, a longtime environmentalist and current president of the Downtown Los Angeles-based Climate Action Reserve, the Gore documentary served as more of a validation to his life's work.
"I've always been involved in environmental issues," recalled Gero, who as a young boy, noted how the first Earth Day inspired him to take action. "Growing up in Los Angeles, and experiencing the air pollution we had, it made me concerned about the environment from a very young age."
Gero's early interest in environmental causes led him to his first job in local government. While working as a grants administrator and manager for the city of Manhattan Beach, Gero used his position to promote environmental causes, including starting the first on beach recycling program in California.
In Glendale, his home of the past 15 years, Gary has continued his undying commitment to environmental issues by serving as a two-term planning commissioner for the city, and as a member of the city's Green Building Advisory Committee.
"I really want to show Glendale as a leader in green practices," Gero said of his work with the Green Building Advisory Committee. "I think there's a real direct connection between energy usage, given that we have a power plant in Glendale, and it seems to me that we have a particular interest in trying to reduce emissions as much as possible and use energy as wisely as possible."
Gero now serves as the president of the Climate Action Reserve, a nonprofit organization that encourages people to take early action in reducing their emissions. Established in 2001, the Climate Action Reserve's standards have served as models for environmental policy around the country.
"Under Gary's leadership, the Climate Action Reserve has emerged as the leading standard for reducing greenhouse gases," said Jennifer Weiss, communications director for the Climate Action Reserve and longtime colleague of Gero. "As president of the Climate Action Reserve, Gary has established a local environmental organization as a global leader."
Although Gero has had much success in shaping environmental policy in both California and the country, he realizes that there are still some battles that have yet to be won. His latest concern is Proposition 23, a measure that aims to repeal the landmark climate change legislation the state of California passed in 2006.
"Believe me I'm personally, tremendously pleased with the progress we've made. Our air is clear, our water is cleaner, our oceans, our coast is much more protected than it was in the past," said Gero, who hopes California residents will vote down the measure on Nov. 2. "But we still have a ways to go."
James Famera is a freelance arts critic based in Los Angeles.