Nancy Skinner

Nancy Skinner – My Climate Journey “Baby steps to Forest Gump-like Leaps”.


My name is Nancy Skinner and some 22 years ago, after graduating from the prestigious Ross Business School at the University of Michigan. I read “Earth in the Balance” by Al Gore after I lost a sister-in-law at 32 of melanoma skin cancer and her doctor told me he believed the ozone hole had caused an increase in the death rate of young people. I  decided that instead of going to Wall Street I would use my business degree to go into this new  field called “Sustainable Development”.
 It led me on a wild ride I must say.
I started by calling the Clinton White House as a private individual after the Great Midwestern Floods of ’93 had devastated whole towns and homes along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers breached the levees. I suggested that they rebuild them off the floodplain as “models of the sustainable technologies that already existed.” I was bounced from agency to agency, but persisted. I finally reached the desk of Bill Becker, who worked at the Department of Energy’s, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Office. “Coincidentally” (I really don’t believe in coincidences), Bill had written this story before in his hometown, Soldier’s Grove, WI. In the 80’s this small town was almost totally destroyed by flooding and Bill, who owned the small town newspaper, advocated for rebuilding the town as a solar village. The town rallied and did in fact become “the nation’s first solar village”. He got me, and went to work.
Within a month, I was at the White House at a table with ten  federal agencies and we put together a dream team of architects and engineers and, working with two pilot towns and their mayors and residents, Valmeyer, IL and Pattonsburg, MO, we rebuilt two entire towns off the floodplain and as “models of sustainable development.
We received a Presidential Award for our work, “ironically” presented by VP Al Gore, who had inspired my career (yes- that’s me in the planning meeting in 1993.
That didn’t change the world  so I went to work with Richard Sandor helping to launch the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first model for Cap and Trade, in the US. Well, the political winds shifted and Republicans who supported market-based proposals like Cap and Trade were pressured by the far right and oil interests, which mounted a massively funded campaign to confuse the American public on the science.  
 Talk Radio became the mouthpiece -denying climate change and denouncing anyone that did as environmentalists wackos.  It actually worked, and the poll numbers shifted drastically. A non-partisan topic became partisan.

I decided to counter the lies told on the mostly conservative dominated talk radio landscape and landed a gig on WLS in Chicago for 8 years, and became a nationally-syndicated radio host and regular commentator on national TV for a decade.  I interviewed authors that had uncovered that unholy alliance between Big oil, think tanks and talk radio and did my best to break through the lies and a mainstream media that insisted on presenting “balanced” reporting by climate deniers against the “objective” fact that the overwhelming balance of scientists agreed on the science.

Because I was up against this:
I ran for congress three times on climate change. Starting in 2004 in a Democratic Primary for the US Senate where I lost to a little known state senator named Barack Obama in a field of six. I ran twice more over the next decade, in 2006 with my TV ads featuring Bobby Kennedy Jr. endorsing me because of my climate leadership and a fundraiser headlined by Senator Joe Biden, where I nearly upset a 1 4 year Republican and top climate denier, and again in 2014 primary, where I nearly won in a three-way race, despite being vastly outspent by both my opponents.
I got a front row seat to a man of great intellect, depth, warmth and integrity. Our Primary, unlike most, was positive and focused on issues. When I was at the DNC Convention in Boston, watching then Senator Obama give his famous “No Red or Blue State” speech, someone asked me. “Who is this guy”, and I said “He’s our next President. Trust me, I just lost to him”.
When I ran in 2006 back in my hometown in Metro-Detroit, after hosting a morning drive radio show for a year. I ran against a 14 yr. Republican incumbent, who’s only publicly visible act was an effort to repeal the “low flow toilets” regulations. I nearly upset him, especially since he spent $4 million to my $450,000. Then Senator-Obama gave me this warm endorsement in Michigan during that race.
I ran twice more on the issue of Climate Change. In 2014, ThinkProgress ran this story on why I believe candidates should run on the issue and its solutions, then running away from it, as so many have done out of fear of backlash by Big Oil. (Yeah, and…)

DETROIT, MICHIGAN — Congressional candidate Nancy Skinner is taking a novel approach when it comes to the issue of climate change: she’s running on it.

Skinner, a Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 11th district, is making climate change a central part of her campaign, hoping her focus on an issue that so many other politicians have shirked or denied will make her stand out in the race, whose primary election is August 5. She told ThinkProgress that taking action to address climate change is particularly pertinent in Michigan, due to the state’s history in and capacity for manufacturing.

“Here we are now with all this infrastructure, where we can ramp up our production of wind turbine engines and solar,” Skinner said. “The United States cannot fall behind on this, and there’s no better place than Michigan to really start producing this stuff quickly. So it’s great for Michigan, and it’s a must for the country.”

While she’s running for a House seat, Skinner’s not just focusing on what she’ll do for her own district, or even her state, if she’s elected. She said she plans to create a group that works to get candidates who are pro-action on climate change elected, a sort of Emily’s List — a group that works to get pro-choice, Democratic women elected to Congress — for climate change.

She wants her voice on climate change to be among the first of many elected to Congress in the coming years, so that Congress has a chance to produce real, meaningful legislation on climate change. Presidential action helps, she said, but an act of Congress is needed if climate change is to be alleviated, and it’ll only happen if enough people in Congress are supportive of climate action.

With no time for mourning (the primary was August 8th), I volunteered to lead a bus from Metro-Detroit Bus to the People’s Climate March in New York City, September 22, 2014. Where organizers expected 100,000, the March turned out over 400,000 in NYC alone and sister marches across the world.

The bus had many graduate students on it from all Universities in Michigan in fields of sustainability who had been quite discouraged over the progress over on climate change. They returned as an inspired and determined force being with so many like-minded people from the around the world.

I then headed to Rio De Janeiro to be trained personally trained by Al Gore and become part of Climate Reality’s Leadership Corp., now 7000 worldwide. It was two intensive days of training with Al Gore and top scientists and we learned the background on his famous slide presentation, slide by slide, and are certified to present the much-updated (especially with all the great news on the rapid advancement of renewable energies across the world) Inconvenient Truth Slide Show.  Anyone can visit and request a Presentation from a Climate Reality Leader near you.

I tell you my whole story because I could never believe how the spark of my first understanding the coming crisis of Climate Change in 1993 after I read Earth in the Balance, turned into a decision to act. I didn’t know how. I had graduated from The Ross School of Business Degree at the University of Michigan as a finance major. No one at that even knew what the words sustainable development meant. But I took an act a private citizen to do something by calling the White House with my “big bold idea” to rebuild the flooded towns as models of sustainability.

That act led to a series of exciting opportunities to make a difference, and at many times, disappointing effort to overcome the forces of denial.

The acts of individual people, who decided to study Climate, teach young people about it, start advocacy organizations, write blogs and books and articles, invent sustainable products, study communications, enter politics, organize several huge Marches now, and even act in their own communities in any way they can, are how we got so far in the world.

One of the happiest moments in my life was to see the whole world agree to finally, after twenty years of negotiations, #ActonClimate in Paris in November of 2015.

I knew it was also a “Big Bold Idea”, but the world embraced it, and the momentum have shifted in the right direction.

I started Climate Talk Radio both as a natural extension of mission, but also because the Election of 2016 posed the most stark choices possible: one that led to continuing the progress of the Obama Administration and where Hillary pledge to “create enough renewable energy to power every home” and unbelievably (and I mean beyond reality) that Donald Trump would become the GOP nominee, and so little media focus on his Climate Change views, “That is a hoax”, and a Pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and cancel all climate funding. My team and I went to Penn State and interviewed Michael Mann, a leading Climate Scientist who was forced into political discourse because his scientific conclusions known as the famous “hockey stick graph”, brought on a deluge of backlash from Deniers and their super-funded, well-oiled (pun intended) machine. He agreed. Trump would be a disaster for climate change. You can watch that interview here.

I reached out to all the fabulous Show Contributors to see if they would add their voices to Climate Talk Radio so we could build a national and global conversation in concert to grow our momentum as part of the global momentum.

We have begun in fits and starts as funding is difficult. There are so many great efforts in every corner, helping to save ecosystems (and yes- that includes us).  I get it.

The technology to take live calls now adds new fire to the show. Hearing from average people, with all points of view (but deniers beware, we have you bested), but it a bi-partisan show  with Republicans, conservatives, an evangelical climate scientist included, as there is new life among those who understand the Climate Challenge, and have decided to engage with different approaches (as strong as a Carbon Tax & Dividend), a new Bi-Partisan Climate Solutions Caucus (34 Members Strong), and business leaders, leading the way for years, are not slowing down given the changing politics of any administration (it’s just smart business).

I seek to elevate these voices beyond print and self-selective web browsing. Our voices need to be heard NOW. The window to address climate change and meet the 1.5 C goal and 2 C limit is short, the political winds have fiercely changed (among politicians in charge, not with the public opinion of Republicans and Independent voters. Those polls overwhelming want action on climate change.

Subscribe for new posts, register free to comment on posts, podcasts, and interviews. (Please register).  But help do more by joining a membership. For $5.99/month, you can grow our base, and raise our voices large enough for the Mainstream Media to hear us – not just when we organize global Marches and do a few short segments that fall far short of the reporting it deserves.

It’s time to come together and Talk!


Follow me @ClimateTalker on Facebook at Climate Talk Radio and live on



We Shall Persist and Meet the Challenge