Rick Piltz’s Legacy: One Year Later

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RP 1It has been a year since Rick Piltz passed away. At GAP we miss him profoundly. We were not prepared for his sudden departure, of course. The antidote to our feeling of loss has been to work as hard and effectively as humanly possible on Rick’s legacy program: Climate Science and Policy Watch. As we continue to execute the challenging vision he set before us in the face of the critical need and evolving opportunities to have a solid impact, we are blessed to have join us as CSPW contributors a host of former science colleagues, associates whom Rick mentored, and other professionals whose lives Rick touched in deeply meaningful ways.

As I eulogized at Rick’s Memorial Celebration, “We are the ones who now have the privilege, responsibility to keep Rick present in this world. As for his public advocacy and mission, the mantle of leadership and the foot soldiering of his climate change policy efforts rests with us. His impatience is now ours. His determination and commitment for critically necessary social change rests with his former colleagues, fellow travelers, and a new generation toward which he was such a good mentor.”

After this first year, we are pleased that so many talented folks have stepped forward to help us honor Rick through ensuring his legacy regarding climate science reporting and policy and truth-telling about both. His spirit pushes us in the direction of pursuing what still needs to happen. He would, however, discourage our efforts to honor him as a hero, but we will decline that invitation. Instead we here at GAP will take some moments to reflect on him and feel good about what we have so far achieved in his name; a task that has been formidable on many levels. That celebration has motivated us to continue to move forward programmatically, prepare for future battles with the intellectual pygmies who litter our political processes, and challenge a fossil fuel industry that in Rick’s words “has no expectation of being phased out, and in fact is seeking to bring about the development of a new era of expanded extraction, domestic consumption, and export.”

As Rick famously said about his whistleblowing, “I had no choice….I did not want to be associated in any way with that charade (inaccurately assessing and downgrading climate science results). Furthermore, I was deeply offended that they actually thought I would be willing to participate in the manipulation of scientific results.”

One year later, we remember Rick’s heroic example and how we as a people must rise to the occasion as he did. CSPW itself is a constant reminder of Rick’s message and how we should all be deeply offended by public officials who deny the existence and causation of climate change, angered by captains of the fossil fuel industry whose greed is fueling current and future disasters, and determined to chart a new global course of action that will change the trajectory of catastrophe that with inaction awaits our beloved Earth.

Louis Clark is President of the Government Accountability Project.

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