J. Drake Hamilton, Fresh Energy’s science policy director, knows too well the pain of climate change.
In early 2019, an invisible layer of ice coated the majority of outdoor surfaces in Minnesota following unprecedented rain and then plunging temperatures from a polar vortex. Describing herself as a “victim of climate change,” Hamilton fell on that ice. Her accident delivered her to Regions Hospital where she spent the next 51 days—almost a third of that time in a coma.
Doctors caring for Hamilton were amazed by her rapid, complete recovery. “I told my medical team my focus was on getting back to work because there’s so much we need to do to quickly adopt climate solutions.” Hamilton also fears that if that work isn’t done, there will be many more victims. “There is a statistical increase in the number of people who will be impacted here in Minnesota, whether that’s falling on the ice, being flooded or having crops wiped out.”
Since returning to work full-time, Hamilton has in just three months addressed national and global live audiences of more than 4,000 people. She’s delivered keynotes on investment in the energy transition to hundreds of financial analysts around the country; addressed the national American Solar Energy conference on the dozens of climate solutions we must implement right away to embrace the renewable and storage future; and participated in a discussion on the clean energy pathway forward for an audience of Minnesota farmers.
Former Vice President Al Gore also invited Hamilton to address 1,300 attendees at the recent Climate Reality Project in Minneapolis—her topic was highlighting how policy change can become political reality. “Climate solutions today are the conversation, and we must be acting.” Hamilton has shared how to achieve the cheaper, clean energy transition in Minnesota with a crowd at Gustavus Adolphus College, as well as at a town hall Climate Change and Energy Forum in Minnetonka.
People from over 120 countries have turned out to hear Hamilton speak, including many from the business sector. “Many companies are now embracing climate solutions, which you didn’t see a decade ago. For example, in just two years, Target Corporation went from having a goal of using 25% renewables in their energy mix to a commitment that 100% of their stores will run on renewable energy by 2030—that is remarkable. Companies are now realizing this makes good business sense and their customers are demanding it.”
Hamilton’s swift recovery has allowed her to return to a role she is very proud of as a spokesperson for Fresh Energy, where she is cherished for her brilliant mind and ability to inspire audiences to effective action. “When I talk about effective climate solutions, I want to know I’ve done everything I can to make Minnesota better for everyone!”