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.
So when people click an About page, there are all sorts of questions for which they are seeking answers. Here are our responses so far.
- What is a Climate Step?
- Current Partners
- Upcoming Features
- The Team
What is a Climate Step?
Recently (2020) in this group, the question was asked – what is a Climate Step? One of our members, Diane Vogt-O’Connor, who has been part of the Climate Steps (CS) Facebook (FB) group from the beginning 3+ years ago (see below) spelled it out the components quite nicely. I have tweaked it a little bit here to put a bit more emphasis on the climate.
A Climate Step:
* helps ensure life will continue on this planet, including our endangered species.
* primarily works to reduce or reverse the substantial damage from atmospheric pollution we have ready done and are about to do towards our climate, but it also includes efforts to reduce or reverse habitat destruction, watershed contamination, the plastics in our oceans, the pesticides in our fields, etc. – as these also can cause substantial carbon equivalent emissions and strongly affect the ability of ecosystems to function.
* is a rational, practical action an average human can take to mitigate the harm we have done and to provide hope for those who come next.
* is one way we show our respect for the sufferings of others in the Arctic, Bangladesh, the Marshall Islands, the Maldives, and other places that risk destruction due to our past and present actions.
How this site got started, via Founder and Exec Director Dr. Annette Olson, 2017:
“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.
So I went over some possible things we can do with my friends – 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, i.e., Climate Steps. Thank you Amy and Kim for changing my life, but especially for caring about the planet!”
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.
As it takes time to research and write an article, and because often we all volunteering now on CS have had little quick articles to share, etc – Dr. Olson also formed the paired Facebook group as a place to exchange and discuss ideas.
Now, with 3330+ folks on FB (and growing rapidly), plus another 600 on Twitter and Instagram, we have a great group for sharing and discussing ideas and priorities for climate action. We summarize some of these discussions and articles into blogs and resource pages here, adding in additional research with the help of several volunteers. Invited authors also contribute. We 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.
The Sustainability Clubs Founder/Alison Halderman.
Under development, of course
The Nebraska Sandhills is roughly 20,000 mi2 of agricultural land and nature preserves – upon sand dunes that have moved in the past, and are predicted to become active again in the future. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandhills_(Nebraska)) In other words, with a few degrees more a large chunk of Nebraska will become desert (pers. comm. by ….).
The Climate Steps Workaholics Team
Dr. Annette Olson is a displaced Texan who has lived and worked in Washington, DC, for almost 30 years (the language above is to appease her father, who notes that she will always be a Texan). Besides renovating her 100+ year-old house during this period, she has worked as a researcher, strategist, scientific liaison, and outreach specialist for federal agencies and nonprofits until March, 2020, when she decided to focus all her efforts on fighting climate change and related environmental issues (and finish her kitchen). So she quit her great job at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to formally turn her blog and FB community Climate Steps into a nonprofit organization.
Annette received her doctorate in biology from the University of Miami, studying the behavioral ecology of the long-nosed mongoose in West Africa and at the National Zoological Park, in DC. She next became a researcher and scientific liaison for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, including serving on the team creating the Behring Family Hall of Mammals. After all the biology exhibits had been created for the time, she went on to advise the World Wildlife Fund, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Technical Information Service, the Encyclopedia of Life, and the Environmental Protection Agency on various scientific data and outreach projects over the years, mentoring almost 50 volunteers and interns in the process.
She followed this by spending seven years at AAAS leading expert panels to assess and promote scientific research capacity-building for multi-institutional collaborations and at universities, as well as creating symposia to outline new trends in research. The panel reviews she has led covered a wide range of subjects – from biomedical to environmental/ecosystem science to robotics to nanotech. As a result, she now calls herself a a jack-of-all-trades scientist/project manager — and a hard-core writer and editor, which is a surprise considering her early, often spectacular, failed attempts at writing (“truly – oh, the stories.”) Hard work does pay off, which she reminds herself about for climate action.
My parents’ ranch experienced a horrible drought in Texas in 2011. I visited them at the time, and saw cattle in neighboring lands starving, and heard people were selling them off at a severe loss. Only the fact that a person, who briefly knew Dad from years ago and heard they were in trouble, saved them. The man loaded up his trailer and drove FIVE hours to bring them hay — and my parents’ cattle survived.
People helping people – and helping the biodiversity of the planet – is what we will need to do to survive this climate crisis. (Btw, my parents ranch is a healthy, restored, free-range, almost organic ecosystem, but please note, eating more of a plant-based diet is a very important climate step in general.)
Climate Steps Volunteers!
- Editor – Dr. Ann Paterson
- Interns – Azka Naz, Mihir Gupta – Thank you!
- 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