Beyond Water:  The Next Step in Our Climate Phight

Written by: Ari Raivetz, CEO

I am a Jew

To be honest, I had real fear about writing that statement in a public forum.  But recent posts by Sivan Zamir and Patrick Decker, the VP of Innovation and CEO of Xylem (one of Transcend’s clients and a thought-leader around water sustainability), respectively, inspired me to speak out. 

Why would I be afraid?  Because I honestly ask myself if speaking out makes me a target.  What if they start rounding us up again, will they come for me and my family?  Will my name get on a list?

This may seem far-fetched to many of you, but it is VERY real to any Jew that has learned about the Holocaust, where 6 MILLION brave souls – 40% of the total Global Jewish population at the time – were wiped off the face the earth.

During the time I lived in Budapest, Hungary – just a few years ago – there was politician in the parliament that wanted to start “making lists” again.   At that time, I thought” Never in America.” 

But now I am not so sure. 

This recently hit home for me when a threat to Synagogues in New Jersey sent shockwaves through my local community.

Antisemitism is on the rise in America.  Swastikas – the ultimate symbol of hate – are appearing in many places all over the country.  Mainstream politicians, entertainers, and athletes are open Holocaust deniers or promote books that do the same.  It is becoming normalized again.  All the signs are there. 

I grew up just outside of Philadelphia, the son of two public educators who ensured Jewish History was part of my schooling.  As a Jew, the first thing we learn about the Holocaust is “Never Again.”   

Education and Awareness is the first step.  It’s time to wake up.  Here is a list of the 14 early warning signs from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

I am a Philadelphian

You may have recently heard about Philadelphia because our baseball team, the Phightin Philadelphia Phillies, made it the World Series. They were the lowest seed to ever make the fall classic, and even though they could not be the Astros they put up a good fight.   Or maybe because our football team, the Birds, at 8-0 is the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL. 

Philly is a city of underdogs.  The Phightins (“said”) are just another story in a long line of them, in both sports and life. 

Philly was left for dead in the 80s and 90s, the lowest bond rating of the top fifty largest U.S. cities, a forgotten wasteland. Today, we have one of the top restaurant scenes in the country, part of a revitalized downtown with a growing population that National Geographic Traveler named America’s Next Great City.

We won our only Super Bowl with a backup quarterback.  We are the home of Rocky Balboa and Allen Iverson.   No one expects us to succeed.  We have to fight and grind and claw for every inch. 

As a Philadelphian, you learn that with belief in yourself and hard work and dedication – TRUE perseverance – anything is possible. 

I am a Climate Warrior

So, what does all of this have to do with Transcend?  And why am I posting it now?

My post was sparked by Transcend’s announcement this week that we have evolved beyond water, and that our website and URL has been updated to reflect this. 

From the start, Transcend’s mission was to transform the way we assess and design all kinds of critical infrastructure (e.g., not just water) to help address our climate crisis. 

For me, this announcement is the next step in a journey that I have been on since 2008, when I made the decision to dedicate my career to help repay my debt to the planet after spending years as an Oil & Gas analyst. 

The world is about to have the biggest influx of capital for infrastructure spending in 50+ years.  If we are not smart about HOW we spend it, then we will repeat the same mistakes that got us here.  

To do things differently, it will take education and awareness of all industry stakeholders.  We need to be thinking about these things at the earliest project stages.

Are we asking the right questions before we set a budget and build?

Are we analyzing the REAL environmental impact?

Are we considering the potential uncertainties wrought by climate change?

Are we considering all the design and technology options available?

We are running out of time

Transcend exists to give owners a fighting chance.  To allow them to assess as many options as possible, with real engineering precision, before they make an irreversible decision to spends Tens or Hundreds of Millions of Dollars. 

At this point we are underdogs in this fight.

But underdogs always have a shot, as any Philadelphian will tell you.

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