What national policies should voters pay attention to related to climate change?
I’m particularly excited about the potential for offshore wind energy as a way to provide renewable energy to the 40% of Americans who live in coastal counties. So excited that I teamed up with some very smart colleagues to write a policy memo about what Congress and the White House can do to help this industry ramp up more quickly. Coastal cities in particular don’t have enough space to put up solar panels and wind turbines, but installing those offshore would be major and creates tens of thousands of green jobs.
What can voters do on a local level to effect change when it comes to the climate crisis?
Pressure your politicians to be more ambitious on climate policy. We don’t have time for weak commitments and slow timelines. Join a local chapter of an advocacy group like Sunrise Movement or Sierra Club and demand that your elected officials do right by you, their constituents, by ensuring we maintain a habitable planet.
In the fight against climate change, what is the role of corporations versus individuals?
We often get really caught up in stressing about our individual carbon footprints. But that was a concept invented by BP–a fossil fuel company!–to distract us from the bigger work of abandoning dirty energy for renewables ASAP. I mean, ride your bike and BYO bottle and bag, for sure, but know that 100 corporations are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions.
What is the biggest climate change threat?
Delay. At this point it’s only a few percent of people in the US who outright deny climate science. But what so many others are doing is dragging their feet and slowing down the implementation of solutions. We simply don’t have time for that.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Not enough hours in the day. And the number of them I have to spend fundraising. If anyone wants to write me a big check so I can focus on my real work, holler.
What advice would you give people just starting out in climate change awareness/the fight against climate change?
Read the anthology that I’ve co-edited, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. In it you’ll find 41 essays by women climate leaders. And I think of each of those essays as a door into climate work. There are pieces by farmers, lawyers, artists, activists, journalists … each of whom are making major contributions to climate solutions. Because climate work is about way more than marching and voting and donating and spreading the word. It’s about putting your special skills, your super powers, to work. Think about what you’re best at and then figure out how to contribute that to the climate movement.
How do you stay optimistic and persistent in the fight against climate change?
I’m not optimistic. I know too much about the scientific projects and human nature for that. But I am determined and relentless. Every day I wake up and try to figure out what I can do to ensure we have the best possible future. There are so many ways to contribute, and I hope you will find yours.