More than 100 people gathered in the Moran Lecture Hall at The Community Library in Ketchum on Thursday, Dec. 26, to hear former Secretary of State John Kerry present a new climate change initiative spearheaded by actors, politicians on both sides of the aisle and military leaders, alongside environmental activists and regular citizens of the world.

World War Zero is described as a “coalition of people who are committed to addressing the climate crisis,” according to the organization’s website, worldwarzero.com. Kerry, one of the founding members of the organization, which started just last month, said the mission is simple: win the peace to create a sustainable country by engaging everyone and aiming for a net-zero carbon economy.

“We are in an incredible race against time,” Kerry told the audience. “This is a tough time, but I am an optimist.”

The organization is using a three-prong approach to empower communities by “enlisting” leaders and influencers to use their convening power to engage with people who could be receptive to their voices and message, asking them to take steps to tackle this crisis and leverage leaders to communicate a positive message “focused on innovation, job creation, national security and technology,” according to the website.

Kerry served in the U.S. Senate from 1985 to 2013 and as secretary of state under President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017.

During the discussion, presented through a partnership between the Hailey Climate Action Coalition, the Environmental Resource Center and the library, Kerry answered several questions from the audience regarding what people can do today to combat the climate crisis.

Kerry told the audience that personal choices for individual lifestyle changes to decrease one’s carbon footprint can easily be taken, and that what people support and what they believe in should be translated in their votes at the polls, both for local city council elections and national elections, supporting candidates and local initiatives to create infrastructure to support a more sustainable community.

Locally, a handful of environmental and sustainability-driven organizations are working in the valley to support more eco-friendly choices and create programs to educate and engage the community on climate change.

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