First – there is a public Facebook (FB) 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?
One of our members, Diane Vogt-O’Connor, who has been part of the Climate Steps (CS) Facebook group from the beginning (see below), spelled 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 all us volunteering now on CS have little quick articles to share, etc – a Facebook group was soon paired to the CS website as a place to exchange and discuss ideas.
Now, with 4370+ folks on FB (and growing rapidly), plus another 700+ on Twitter and Instagram, we have a great group for sharing ideas and discussing priorities for climate action. We summarize some of these discussions and articles into blogs and resource pages here in the website, 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.
First, a major shoutout to Green Pro Bono (https://www.greenprobono.org/) for their advice, and for connecting us to Barry Hart and Laura Gregory of the law firm K&L Gates (https://www.klgates.com/), who have been providing free and great legal advice and assistance. THANK YOU!
And our many data and information content collaborators:
The Sustainability Clubs Founder/Alison Halderman.
Please see the attached document to understand some of our standards. We define how individual action is so much more than personal action at home, but can include social, political, and industry-related. We subscribe to supporting a range of individual actions as impactful and critical in the climate fight. We understand that actions need to be personalized to people’s particular situations. Climate Steps seeks out diversity in our volunteers and staff and in actions for our users. We follow the science, and are transparent in our own actions. And so much more. Please enjoy the read.
We also provide copies of our document retention policy and our whistleblower policy:
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, Founder and Executive Director. Annette is a displaced Texan who has lived and worked in Washington, DC, for almost 30 years. 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 December, 2016, when she decided to focus her spare time into fighting climate change and related environmental issues via the Climate Steps blog. In 2017, she also formed the CS Facebook community, followed by Instagram, Twitter, etc. With rapid growth in followers, readers, guest authors, and collaborators, she realized it was time to make a choice. She quit her job at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2020 to formally turn Climate Steps into a nonprofit organization.
Annette received her doctorate in biology from the University of Miami in 2001, studying the behavioral ecology of the long-nosed mongoose in West Africa and at the National Zoological Park, in DC, as well as later earning an Associates Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University School of Business and Public Management, Washington, DC. She 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, NOAA, the National Technical Information Service, the Encyclopedia of Life, and the EPA 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 programs nationally and internationally, as well as creating symposia to outline new trends in research. Besides growing Climate Steps, she is a co-Founder and Board Member of EarthHero.org (a global action app), and is the Lead for Green Neighbors DC, a locally oriented climate action group in Washington, DC.
Ms. Amy Copeland, Instigator and Founding Member of the Board. Amy was the one who originally
pushed encouraged Annette to start the Climate Steps blog back in 2016 and she has helped strategize and pull together resources as it began to resolve into an organization. In 2020, Amy totally agreed with Annette that it was time to take it to the next level, but we’re not sure she realized that, due to her honest and valuable advice, she would be asked to serve on the Board when it was formed in December 2020. Amy has 20 years of professional experience in program management and technical support for domestic and international health programs, most recently in cancer care and patient advocacy nonprofit organizations. Her current work focuses on qualitative research and resource development for healthcare providers, and she has worked in the field of behavior change. In previous positions, she has worn most of the nonprofit hats, including but not limited to proposal-writing, staff and volunteer supervision, and strategic planning. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The College of William and Mary and a Master of Public Health from The George Washington University. She also has an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. She lives in Washington, DC, and when she is not serving as a consultant, she is eagerly awaiting the next time she can safely (post-Covid) go scuba diving again. She also has an addiction to seed-saving, a project which has taken up most of the lower drawer in the refrigerator but hasn’t yet resulted in a bountiful garden. She remains hopeful.
Dr. Shaaretha Pelly, Founding Member of the Board. Shaaretha was a close colleague of Annette’s at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She recalls the day Annette started the Climate Steps blog, and they both saw the dire need for it then as they see now.
Shaaretha’s area of scientific expertise is Tuberculosis and Tropical Medicine. She holds a Ph.D. in Pathobiology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Certificate in Tropical Medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Shaaretha has worked to build research and scientific capacity at the Center for Tuberculosis Research at Johns Hopkins University, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore, and at AAAS. She enjoys working at the intersection of policy and science – working on grants, managing scientific reviews and evaluations, and establishing partnerships to strengthen interdisciplinary collaborations across the Sciences. Having had the opportunity to work and build networks across the US and Singapore research enterprises, and through overseeing research at the NTU, Shaaretha is currently a consultant based in the DC-Metro area. While trained in the biomedical sciences, she saw the immense value in addressing global health through a One Health  approach – recognizing that human health is intricately connected to the health of animals and our shared environment.Shaaretha’s personal interest has also always been in the study and protection of wildlife, so she very much looks forward to fostering this in working to establish Climate Steps, the organization.
- Editor – Dr. Ann Paterson
- Interns – Anshika (Anna) Srivastava, Carleton University
- Former Interns – Azka Naz, Mihir Gupta – both from Carleton University – Thank You!
- Researcher(s) – Dr. Shaaretha Pelly, Kira Mock
- Moderators – Hugh O’Connor, Diane O’Connor, Carrie McLaughlin, Tamara Alfson, Alex Chapman, Ann Paterson, and, kindof sortof, Mark Stewart.
- Invited Authors:
- Carrie McLaughlin
- Amy Copeland
- Edmund Weisenberg
- Mark Stewart
- Julia Curran
- Chris Bernacchi
- March 2021. Facebook recently recognized Dr. Olson as a “Leading Lady” in the “Hall of Her,” as part of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day and for creating and growing a strong, very collaborative community focused on taking actual climate action. The credit goes to Climate Steps, actually, because Facebook started searching for a climate group, found Climate Steps, and then realized it had a woman founder. But Dr. Olson wound up in the photographs campaigns, and actually got to keep the new clothes provided – but should have asked about the gold shovel.
- March 2021. Dr. Olson was awarded the Global Global Environmental and Climate Conservation Initiative (ECCI) Ambassador Award, which is given to an individual who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment in one or more of the following areas: Societal Impact, Service to the Earth and Space Community, Scientific Leadership, and Promotion of Talent/Career pool. Dr. Olson was selected because of her commitment towards Youth and Peace, and for achieving sustainable development and social responsibility.