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Sweet LEAF

Ozzy Osbourne famously croons in his Black Sabbath anthem, “Sweet Leaf” that “[Sweet leaf] gave to me a new belief and soon the world will love you sweet leaf.” While Black Sabbath faithful will scoff at this exercise, let’s divorce this song from any implicit or embedded connotation, both provocative and innocuous and shift to an environmental conversation.

While it may surprise some readers to read, I do not live within a BacharachBlog vault where I spend my days churning out blog posts while saving the world from destruction (à la Source Code). In fact, while this blog and our Blog Editor, William J. Briggs, are both based in the Big Apple, I actually hail these days from Chicago where I work on sustainability and energy policy for the Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn. When I’m not busy juggling environmental bureaucracy in the Windy City, I compose a blog and send it through a series of intricate networks before it ends up on this page. Confidential and exciting I suppose.

Occasionally, though, I find a serendipitous overlap between my policy job and my blogging work and, more infrequently, I am fortunate enough to have Black Sabbath provide the soundtrack for this linkage. Last week, as Governor Quinn presented the new electric Nissan LEAF to Chicago and Illinois, I found a blue moon, (green) linkage roll into my life.

The Nissan leaf is a 100% electric, no gas, zero emission electric vehicle (EV) that runs purely on efficient electric charge and is scheduled to appear on Illinois roads and driveways this fall. I work for the Governor and am in no way a representative for Nissan, but due to a productive private-public sector partnership, we are celebrating the Nissan LEAF and encouraging healthy market competition down the road.  From my experience attending the Governor’s event and later test driving the LEAF, I think the response will be positively charged.

After the Governor’s event Nissan staged three days of test drives so anyone who was interested in trying the electric car would have an opportunity. Attending these test drives, I watched as bleary eyed families and citizens from all contexts and walks of life walked away in reverent awe from the electric car.

So, as Ozzy explains as he sings to his own LEAF, “you gave me a new belief.” My new belief is that comprehensive and productive environmental reform can begin by engaging the public in thrilling sustainability efforts. Even if only 2% of attendees purchase a LEAF, I watched crowds leave (pun intended) inspired to reengage with environmental efforts because of pure, re-ignited interest. This is the future of sustainability efforts and exactly where we must lead sustainability policy.

Especially if we lead these efforts in EV cars, the response will be electrifying with zero emissions.



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