1976: Conservationists for Jimmy Carter
Rob Caughlan was the California Chairman of Conservationists for Jimmy Carter and worked to get Carter elected president.
During his campaign and his presidency (1977-1981), Jimmy Carter emphasized the importance of encouraging alternative energy sources such as solar, geothermal and wind. His stance on protecting the environment made him a conservationist favorite.
1977-80: EPA and DOE
To consolidate energy policy, the newly elected President Carter created a new department – the Department of Energy (DOE).
Also in 1977, Rob Caughlan accepted a position as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator Barbara Blum, of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, Caughlan became a member of President Carter’s Solar Energy Task Force.
A bit later, because of his EPA and Task Force positions (and his work with the Roanoke Company), the head of the EPA Public Affairs Office came to Caughlan about producing a film on solar energy for the newly created DOE. Solar Energy - The Great Adventure was the result. (read more about this documentary...)
The Global 2000 Report to the President
Also in 1977, President Carter commissioned The Global 2000 Report to the President. Its purpose was to study possible future trends such as global warming, energy scarcity, and explosive human population growth in contrast with Earth's finite resources.
Presided over by Gerald O. Barney, data was collected by different institutions and used in computer models to make these projections of the future.
The report was released in 1980 by the Council on Environmental Quality and the United States Department of State; it concluded with:
"If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the worlds people will be poorer in many ways than they are today."
Rob Caughlan was part of the team that worked on the Global 2000 Report. It started numerous national discussions which, in turn, led to legislation.
In 1980, President Carter signed into law the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act which was one of the most comprehensive conservation acts in American history. It set aside 104 million acres of new national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands in order to protect wildlife, fish, and the wilderness. When enacted, it preserved more wild country than had been preserved anywhere else in the world.
However, in order to get this passed in Congress, the legislation also allowed for development of natural resources and commercial use of certain areas of the Alaska North Slope. The Alaska North Slope supposedly contains 95% of Alaska’s most promising oil-bearing lands.
When Caughlan left his work in Washington, the Global 2000 Report weighed on him and led to his production of Future in the Cradle. (read more about this documentary...)
Former President Jimmy Carter greeting Rob Caughlan: