Rick Snyder calls on environmentalists, skeptics to find common ground
Gov. Rick Snyder, speaking to a room full of “green chemistry” experts in Ann Arbor today, called on supporters of environmentally friendly technologies to stop arguing with opponents and start educating.
“The call to action I give you, in addition to all the hard work you’re already doing, is to find that common ground, to sit down and find a common illustration that you can explain to them why there are no losers with green chemistry,” Snyder said.
Snyder, a first-term Republican and former member of the Nature Conservancy’s Michigan Board of Trustees, exhorted the crowd not to fight with people who are skeptical of green technologies.
“All of you believe in green chemistry, I believe in green chemistry, it’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “The world out there doesn’t fully agree with that. There are people out there that are challenged when they hear the terms. It’s largely one of additional education. It’s not about arguing with them about why they’re different.”
In a brief interview after the event, Snyder declined to address the partisan divide between conservatives and liberals on environmental issues. But he said it’s natural for people to “resist the concept of change" until they understand issues thoroughly.
Asked whether he believes that people are causing climate change, he said: “I’m reinventing Michigan, so I just stay focused on a lot of key issues right in front of us, but climate change is an issue we need to be concerned about.”
Snyder’s address came a day after the former Ann Arbor venture capitalist unveiled a broad range of proposals for reconfiguring how the state funds road construction and infrastructure projects.
Snyder today said that road agencies should consider replacing steel rods with carbon fiber rope in bridge construction projects. He said carbon fiber rope, which is more durable and expensive than concrete reinforced by steel, could remove the need to construct 8- to 9-inch concrete bridge decks.
“Although it costs more, it never rusts, it'stronger than steel and will last for many more years,” Snyder said today. “It costs more Day One, but 10 years later you don’t need to do that replacement. The context we talk about is saving money for a bridge, but it’s green chemistry to create more sustainability.”
At U-M, which hosted the event at the former 174-acre former Pfizer site it bought two years ago, students are extremely interested in energy technologies and environmentally friendly issues, said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.
“When I meet with my fellow university presidents, I’m constantly struck by how many report that today’s students are totally captivated by creating a sustainable planet. It’s an enthusiasm and urgency that I haven’t seen since” the space race, Coleman said.
Coleman described U-M as “a powerful arsenal for confronting climate change.”
“This is not about the survivability of one country but of the entire globe,” she said.