With great sadness today I learned that my good friend and supporter through all my years as an energy advocate, Randy Udall, has died. He was hiking on a trail in Wyoming and had been expected home about a week ago. They found him yesterday, lying on his side on the trail. Randy loved the outdoors, often hiked and I remember him once telling me about hiking in the snow and making a cave in the snow in which to sleep. For an Easterner, that was hard for me to fathom. Randy loved the Earth and he found many ways to enjoy it amid all the time he spent working to spread the message about the damage we have done to the planet and the great sadness he had about that.
Randy Udall was the best speaker and portrayer of knowledge about climate change, the impacts of burning fossil fuels and the need to move away from dependence on oil that I know. He spoke with great knowledge, clarity and humor and it made it possible to take in the frightening facts of what we have done to the Earth and what is to come.
One of his most striking images was of a six pack of beer with four cans crushed and two still whole. He used this to show how much of the world’s oil we had already consumed as of 2000. And he always added that when he gave his talk in Oklahoma one time, someone yelled out, “Now that’s a sobering thought!"
Another comment of his that has stuck with me and influenced my work was his saying that from the moment a building is completed, it is on “life support.” By this he meant that all buildings require energy to exist: for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting. He worked tirelessly to instate building codes that would encourage more energy-efficient building practices and was a leader in Aspen, Colorado’s development and instigation of a very innovative and ground-breaking local building code.
We were lucky to have Randy come to the Vineyard and speak two times: once for the Community Energy Workshop in 2003 and again for the first Living Local event. All who saw him left his talks inspired and filled with admiration for his ability to deliver his message about Climate Change and make it be something we could and should work on.
I have recently been thinking how it is odd that we set aside one day a year to be Earth Day. Every day is Earth Day. I hope that each and every one of us will honor Randy Udall and do things to both care for and enjoy the earth each and every day. I can think of nothing that would please him more.
Kate Warner is an architect who lives in West Tisbury.