09/26/2007 07:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

You Cannot Seize an Opportunity If You Don't Know About It

New York, NY -- The Clinton Global Initiative

That was the point former President Clinton made repeatedly today in his interactions with World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Clinton asked Zoellick what the Bank's role was in enabling poor countries to develop and expand access to electricity and energy services by providing them options other than fossil fuels, and Zoellick simply wouldn't answer the question. Clinton clearly understood that without a new development paradigm, China and India, Africa and Latin America will simply not be able to commit to avoiding worldwide climate catastrophe. Zoellick appeared to have no interest in engaging on this issue. (By the way, you can watch the Clinton Global Initiative of which this interaction was a part on the web.) Over and over today the point was raised: We cannot solve global warming without addressing underlying problems, like how to make forest preservation economically beneficial, how to deal with illegal logging and the global trade rules that encourage it, and how to give Third World countries access to technology and clean energy options.

Whether you come at this dilemma saying to yourself, "We need to do this in a holistic way that brings humanity together" or the other end of the same vision, "This is the holistic problem that can enable us to bring ourselves together," today's opening of the Clinton Global Initiative was infused with the need for ecological, systematic thinking and acting.

Earlier in the morning, Al Gore made an urgent appeal calling on the world to negotiate a new global warming treaty in 2009, not 2012, and to put it into effect immediately. He argued that, done right, such a global response could also give us the tools and resources to tackle poverty and conflict. And Jane Goodall, in closing out the sessions on global warming, quoted an Inuit leader from Greenland as saying to her, "In the North, we know what you are doing in the South, because we feel the consequences before you do. In the North, the ice is melting. What will it take to melt the ice in the human heart?"