First – there is a public Facebook group where folks gather and share ideas/concrete solutions for individuals to help fight climate change. They help feed into this blog, and vice versa. Please join, if interested: https://www.facebook.com/groups/climatesteps/. We also are on Instagram (climate_steps) and on Twitter (@climatestepsUS), more the former than the latter.
How this site got started: Shortly after the 2016 US Presidential election, due to my posting my climate worries on Facebook and my having worked as a scientist in the environmental field for decades, friends took me to lunch to drill me for answers to help save the planet. With many in the current administration planning to reverse “every” climate- and environment-saving action that has been made – there would be no way to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 3.6 Fahrenheit (!) degrees in the next couple of decades. Translation – sea level rises of 6 feet (also !) by 2100. Never mind that Earth’s fever is not going to stop rising after that without strong action – it will continue and ice will melt and droughts will strike for generations to come.
P.S. Did you know that the number of 95+ degrees F will increase from eight days a year to 90 days a year in Washington, DC, under the worst climate scenario – which is the current climate scenario? 90 days a year. [Via the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit’s Climate Explorer] And that’s up north! We must do something. I like the tropics, but not that much.
So we went over some possible things we can do – especially ones that could spread the word, i.e., have a multiplier effect. We talked about leasing roofs to solar panels, supporting bike shares, working on local and state politics, etc. And they suggested I should start a blog. And that is how Climate Steps got started. Thank you Amy and Kim.
But as it takes time to research and write and article, and often we have had little quick articles to share, etc – so I also formed the paired Facebook group as a place to exchange and discuss ideas.
Now, with 2700+ folks on FB (and growing exponentially), plus another 500 on Twitter and Instagram, we have a great group for sharing and discussing ideas and priorities for climate action. I summarize some of these discussions and articles into blogs and resource pages here, adding in additional research with the help of several volunteers. We also have guest authors, and then share articles published here with the broader community for feedback. We are also beginning to add in planning tools with the help of interested partners. [List coming.]
For 2020 – at the request of members, friends, and my own conscience, I will be quitting my job and turning Climate Steps into a non-profit information, tool, and community resource, creating more action and resource summaries, including 1) a page on how to connect to organizations doing different types of climate steps and 2) an area to upload and share your own climate actions so you can get encouragement and feedback. In early 2020, I’ll hold some Climate Step brainstorming meetings – in person and online, so I can determine priorities for activities and start grant writing. Etc! Ideas are very welcome!
About me: I am a displaced Texan, currently living in Washington, DC, and, until recently (March, 2020), working for a non-profit, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), leading expert panels to assess and promote scientific research capacity at universities and for individuals. My work covers a wide range of subjects – from biomedical to environmental to robotics. Previously I worked for the Smithsonian Institution, and then advised the U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA, NTIS, and EPA on various science data and outreach projects. As a result, I am basically a jack-of-all-trades scientist now.
It has been an interesting path. Once upon a time, I was going to be a medical doctor, until I took my first field biology course and wound up catching and monitoring rodents on a Texas blackland prairie, and then bats under a bridge. My goal became to stay outdoors, which I did through most of graduate school – getting my doctorate in biology (mongoose ecology and behavior) and living in a tent in a rainforest in West Africa for over a year. After having to evacuate due to a civil war, I then conducted research at the National Zoological Park in DC for about four years.
Of course, now where am I? When not visiting a university, I am in front of a computer eight hours a day, most days. But I have had the opportunity to work on environmental issues and strategies for the U.S. Federal government for 16 years, and now for AAAS for over seven. Through all of that I became a professional writer and an consummate editor, but I now also story-tell for science through blogs, presentations, and other random means. For instance, I used to write about different adventures I was having, but now I’ve switched mostly to the climate via Climate Steps.
Anyway, I hope you find this blog useful, even enjoyable at times. Having seen the data, I am very concerned about the impact climate change will have on the U.S. Every state will be affected.
My parents, for instance, experienced that horrible drought in Texas a couple of years ago – and only the fact that a good Samaritan drove five hours to bring them hay did their cattle survive.
And do you know how much of Nebraska is actually sand dunes covered with grass?! A few degrees more, and those dunes will start moving.
So I and others will be continuously updating this site with information about how we can not only ride this tidal wave (pun intended), but stop as much of it as possible. Join us in taking impactful Climate Steps.
Dr. Annette Olson, Washington, DC
Climate Steps Volunteers!
- Editor – Dr. Ann Paterson
- Researcher – Rachel Kahn
- Writer, Strategist, and Instigator – Amy Copeland
- Moderators – Hugh O’Connor, Diane O’Connor, Carrie McLaughlin, Tamara Alfson, Alex Chapman, Ann Paterson, Margaret Barkley Byess.
- Guest authors:
- Amy Copeland
- Edmund Weisenberg