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Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment

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climate change

Chicago Series #2: Environmental Justice

Hazel Johnson is now known as the “mother of the environmental justice movement,” but back in 1979 she was a mother of seven children with respiratory and skin problems, and the widow of a husband who died from lung cancer a decade prior. Living in Altgeld Gardens on the South Side of Chicago, in a housing project that was surrounded by factories, landfills, industrial buildings, and sewage treatment plants, Johnson began to investigate the chronic health impacts on her community from surrounding air and water pollution. She learned that her family and her neighbors had been exposed to toxic fumes, asbestos, and contaminated drinking water, and that her community had the highest cancer rate in the city – leading her to call Altgeld Gardens “The Toxic Donut.”

Continue reading “Chicago Series #2: Environmental Justice”

Chicago Series #1: The Midwest is Not Exempt from Climate Change

I moved to Chicago almost seven months ago, and I’ve found many Midwest stereotypes to be true – the people are very friendly, the winters are very cold, the food is crazy good, and the beer is even better. But one stereotype – that the Midwest won’t suffer any severe consequences of climate change – is completely false. While we don’t have hurricanes, and live right next to the largest body of fresh water in America, the Midwest is not exempt from climate impacts – and has plenty to worry about as Earth warms.

Continue reading “Chicago Series #1: The Midwest is Not Exempt from Climate Change”

Why Silicon Valley Should Support the Paris Agreement

President Trump is on the verge of a monumental decision to withdraw or keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement. Signed by 194 nations in December 2015, the Paris Agreement establishes the first global goal to limit warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels. But now, the new U.S. administration plans to roll back a suite of environmental measures, and the Paris Agreement is potentially on the chopping block. While this might seem like a distant, bureaucratic matter, the Paris Agreement has immediate, tangible benefits on a local scale. Here in Silicon Valley, the agreement will help create jobs, incentivize innovation, and spur growth in the clean energy sector today – while reducing costly climate impacts tomorrow. We must remind the Trump administration that the Paris Agreement will help, not hinder, our critical slice of the American economy. Continue reading “Why Silicon Valley Should Support the Paris Agreement”

Making Friends in the Brazilian Amazon

After spending the first week of our Brazilian vacation in Bahia, we headed to the interior of Brazil, deep into the Amazon. We flew at night to Manaus, Brazil’s westernmost large city and home to 2.5 million people, and all we could see on the way there was blackness. Even during the night, it was easy to tell how dense and enormous the Amazon was, despite the huge amount of deforestation that is going on. Continue reading “Making Friends in the Brazilian Amazon”

El Niño, From the Mountains to the Sea

In case you don’t know, I’m back in California, enjoying the warm weather and being back on campus. Even though I’m now needing to study a lot more than I was during my traveling episode of 2015, I’m still managing to find time to go on adventures and travel to different parts of the state on the weekends. I’d like to share two of my adventures with you within the context of a phenomenon that has been hitting up the media a lot recently: El Niño. Continue reading “El Niño, From the Mountains to the Sea”

Last Day of COP 21: Emma’s Guide to the Paris Agreement

On the last day of COP 21, and I got to meet two of my environmental heroes, Bill McKibben and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. There were fewer people in the Green Zone, which meant shorter lines for the Creperie inside (my favorite food source during the conference this week), but the space was still buzzing with energy. Later on in the day, I did some more Paris sightseeing and visited the Louvre and the Arc do Triomphe. Continue reading “Last Day of COP 21: Emma’s Guide to the Paris Agreement”

Day 3 at COP 21: Blue Heads and Murals

Another great day in Paris! I started the day by going to Montsauris Park in the south of the city with Christina, another Conergy Solar Ambassador. We were there to see one of many art installations that have been put up around the city of Paris in conjuction with the climate talks. This one was titled “Where the Tides Ebb and Flow”, and featured many blue heads positioned in a curve, sticking up out of a pond, to represent the impact of rising sea levels on the human race. Continue reading “Day 3 at COP 21: Blue Heads and Murals”

Day 2 at COP 21: Melting Icebergs and the Importance of Productive Direct Action

Hello from Paris! I was up early to do it all over again today, but I did take it a bit slower today since yesterday tired me out. I can’t imagine doing this for 12 days straight – it’s outright exhausting. Saving the planet is tough work, people.

I started my day off with a beautiful walk by the Louvre, along the river Seine, past Notre Dame, and to the Pantheon, where I watched 12 chunks of ice actively melting. The ice was brought from Greenland and is exhibited here in Paris to represent the melting of the polar ice caps, and they are arranged in the shape of a clock. Continue reading “Day 2 at COP 21: Melting Icebergs and the Importance of Productive Direct Action”

Day 1 at COP 21: Kinda Overwhelming

Here I am at COP 21 in Paris! Even though the conference started last Monday, November 30th, I haven’t been able to come until last night, when I flew in from Madrid very late and got up early this morning to see and do as much as I possibly could. I am here for the last few days of the conference, and all fingers and toes are crossed that by the end of Friday, we will have a final draft of a ground-breaking and game-changing climate agreement. Continue reading “Day 1 at COP 21: Kinda Overwhelming”

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