Climate Reality Leaders Paige Miller and Friday Apaliski attended a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, facilitated by Al Gore last October, where they learned how to mobilize their communities around climate action. In February, they joined the Women’s Environmental Network at San Francisco Department of the Environment’s offices to give an evening presentation about what they learned.
Paige and Friday focused on three themes from the training: Urgency, Hope, and Action.
While attending the conference last fall in Miami, Paige and Friday experienced firsthand some of the climate change impacts on Florida. For example, as they arrived, the streets of Miami were flooding. But climate change isn’t only hitting Florida.
Closer to home, 97% of California was in drought last September. Effects of the drought have included extremely low lake levels, California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack reaching a 500 year low in 2015, and wildfires increasing in severity. Paige and Friday’s presentation made it clear that we are living in a new normal. Sometimes we hear about these impacts on the news, but it is hard to realize that these are happening all over the world at an alarming rate – heat waves, hurricanes, rivers overflowing, and typhoons. They recommend following Bill McKibben’s twitter account. It’s a great resource to keep updated on the many extreme weather events happening around the world.
There are solutions! Renewable energy is on the rise – and local and state governments, like California’s, are leading the way. What gives Paige and Friday hope is knowing, especially living near Silicon Valley, that technology and smart investments can be part of the solution (consider how fast cell phones took off and transformed our lives!). The Paris Agreement is another source of hope –just last year, nearly 200 countries came together and agreed to take action on climate change. Change is happening, from the local to global level – and we all have a responsibility to be part of the solution.
While there are thousands of actions we can all take to help the environment, Paige and Friday focused on three important ones:
- The single most powerful action you can take at the local level is purchasing 100 percent renewable energy from your utility. San Francisco residents can sign up through CleanPowerSF. Other cities across the Bay Area are catching up, too – find out if your city has a similar plan!
- Bring climate change into the conversation. Ask whether candidates have taken a stance on fighting climate change and let them know that your vote depends on it. Elections matter on a local level too – even just a few phone calls or emails to a local elected official’s office can make them listen up (and it’s their job to represent you!).Conversations with your family and friends can be just as important – when your grumpy uncle complains about his high water bill, offer to help him install water efficient appliances, and if he’s receptive, tie the importance of water conservation to the drought. In general, keep thinking about how to engage those around you that are not currently engaged in environmentally-minded thinking, and emphasize your common values. Everybody wants a safe and healthy place to live, right?
- Sign up as a climate leader – Paige and Friday already worked in the environmental sector when they attended the training, and it was a profound, inspiring experience for the both of them. The next training in the United States is set to happen later this year.
Paige and Friday have pledged to spread the word in their local communities by doing 10 presentations throughout the year.