WEST JEFFERSON — The Hole Lotta Doughnuts Leadership Series returned on April 21 with a presentation from Ron Sznaider, a former CEO with more than 35 years of business experience in industries focused on the weather, agriculture, energy and transportation among others.
The presentation took place at the Boondocks Brew Haus and featured discussions on the local impact of climate change and how leaders can prepare future generations for dealing with this challenge.
Sznaider, a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a unique set of qualifications for speaking on the issue of climate change and its impact on business. In addition to his more than three decades of business leadership experience, Sznaider also holds a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin and graduate studies in Atmospheric Sciences at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
“There are a lot of things we can do right now, small adjustments that will help us prepare and adapt to what is a gradual change in the climate,” Sznaider said during his presentation.
Sznaider explained that university research and development, as well as private sector innovation, are two of the biggest keys to preparing for a future with a warming climate.
During the presentation, Sznaider pointed out that climate change is a combination of both man-made factors and a natural warming of the climate. There isn’t a quick fix for any of the issues either.
“I think this is something that is not being talked about. Leadership is about being transparent and looking at all the different angles and not trying to purposefully avoid talking about something,” he said. “We as a society developed a fossil fuels-based energy economy. It made sense. We now understand that as the world gets bigger and more people do that, we know there are some byproducts here that are going to be complicated, but it’s not easy to just turn it off. We’re going to have to have a transition to more cleaner energy, but it’s complicated and it’s going to take a lot longer than anybody thinks.”
Some of the small changes noted in the presentation that could lead to less of a man-made impact on climate change were residential solar energy programs, installing smart thermostats in homes and entrepreneurial investments into research.
“We are warming, it’s a big problem to solve but it’s not easy. Some of it is natural, most of it is from emissions. But I do think there are a lot of pragmatic adjustments that we can do along the way,” Sznaider said. “We need balanced leadership to incorporate different points of view and we need to make it easier for private sector investors to make a difference.”