Conspiring over a pot of tea and future plans, my friend looked up and explained that big decisions come down to a simple question:
What do you want to hear when you wake up in the morning?
If you are like her, it could be the buzzing sounds of a cityscape stretching itself into morning rush hour. For me, it is waking up within reach of birdsong and rattling barn doors.
Both of these scenarios have one thing in common: they are being threatened by climate change.
As the daughter of a veterinarian, appreciating the elegance and complexity of the natural world is foundational. My curiosity is guided by poetry and science, but curiosity must be coupled with action.
We live in a time when our choices will determine Earth’s ability to thrive for thousands of years to come. I propose that combating climate change should be a top priority for all of us, but especially pro-life advocates. Instead of heckling Planned Parenthood, consider protecting every member of future generations by targeting greenhouse gas emissions, fossil-fuel subsidies and sea level rise.
Sarcasm aside: preserving the environment is to preserve ourselves.
Solutions to the environmental crises are as interdependent and multifaceted as nature itself. I have come to understand that a sustainable future depends on the confluence of science, society, and a culture of stewardship.
However, one thing is clear: progress begins with education. As a result, I founded the youth-led nonprofit Cultivating Action, which is working to build community around environmental solutions and to expand environmental education. In just one year, we have been able to support 18 schools and counting from Maine to Hawaii, from Dartmouth College to rural elementary schools.
By combining fish and plants, aquaponic systems are a living example of biology, chemistry, and ecosystem science. It has been humbling to hear how students who had never been interested in schoolwork enthusiastically measure the plants to see if they have grown, or to check if the snails have moved. By empowering next-generation leaders and scientists to pursue and act upon their curiosity, we can facilitate meaningful change. We want all schools to have access to this educational tool.
Thanks to Trump, who has promised to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, resurrect the coal industry and espoused that, despite extensive peer-reviewed data, climate change is a Chinese hoax, people who have never considered engaging with environmental projects are feeling urgency. Since the election, there has been an influx of support to environmental organizations working to protect our wild lands and waters. More Americans are looking to their communities and asking what they can do.
With this momentum, we can build healthier communities and a flourishing environment if we choose to. Thanks to Trump, I promise to double my efforts to leverage my skills and resources to contribute to this reality. Small actions, contributions and engagement will culminate in monumental change.
Now is the time to give voice to the power and plight of the natural world. In the words of Herbert Spencer, “the great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”
Check out more information about Cultivating Action here.
Author: Emily Donaldson
Image: Courtesy of author.
Editor: Nicole Cameron