Tag Archives: climate action

Climate Action Benefits our Health

We can see climate change’s impacts on the health of our world all around us, right here in Massachusetts. Our friends, families, and neighbors have to adapt (just like wildlife and plants) to new and heightened threats – and one of those is a threat to public health.

Climate change’s warming temperatures influence the spread of disease bearing insects, like the Deer Tick, Ixodes scapularis. Photo © Scott Bauer, USDA/Flickr

Warm, Warmer, Too Hot

Warming temperatures bring with them a rise in extreme heat events, which are linked to an increase in hospital admissions for cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory disorders.

Cities are hit especially hard by extreme heat. Urban areas experience a phenomenon known as “urban heat islands”: when specific parts of cities face significantly higher temperatures than their suburban or rural counterparts.

This heat difference arises because of how well each environment absorbs and holds heat. Suburban or rural areas have abundant plants, grass, trees, and other flora – tools that NASA calls “nature’s air conditioner.” Cities, on the other hand, don’t contain as much flora. Dark asphalt, sidewalks, and buildings that comprise our cities aggravate this problem by actually generating more heat.

An Uptick in Disease-Bearing Ticks (and Others)

Warming temperatures also influence the spread of disease bearing insects. Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Zika virus are all occurring more frequently in the US and are all carried by insects like ticks and mosquitoes. As Massachusetts, warms, these diseases are surviving in and spreading to areas they weren’t able to before.

It’s the Sneezon

Climate change makes springs and summers longer, increasing Massachusetts’ growing season and consequently how long plants produce pollen. Both these byproducts intensify allergy symptoms.

Allergies are only one part of the problem. Burning fossil fuels creates excess greenhouse gasses and pollution, like particle matter (PM), that lowers air quality. Such pollution is directly linked to the development of asthma in young children and worsening asthma symptoms in those already dealing with the illness.

Social Equity in Public Health

Climate change’s disparate impacts are nothing new, and are deeply rooted in history. The very sources that have pumped greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere for years have been overwhelmingly sited near communities of color, especially Black communities. Additionally, urban heat islands tend to map onto almost the exact same locations Black communities were forced into in the 1930s through the formal practice of “redlining.”

It’s no coincidence, then, that marginalized populations bear the brunt of climate change’s public health effects. According to a 2018 study, communities in poverty faced 1.35 times the burden of PM pollution from sources like power plants and cars (also rampant greenhouse gas sources) compared to the overall population, people of color faced 1.28 times the burden, and Black Americans suffered 1.54 times the burden.

Even worse, marginalized communities like people of color tend to have less coverage, access, and use of quality health care. That means already vulnerable communities struggle in obtaining treatment for climate change induced heat-related illnesses, insect-borne diseases, allergies, and asthma.

We Can Fight Climate Change Together

Here’s how we can keep our friends, families, and our most vulnerable populations healthy and safe.

Find and Support a Local, Climate Justice Organization

By supporting a climate justice organization, you support people on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Take a Climate Pledge

Commit to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions by yourself or with your friends, family, or community.

Learn About Environmental Justice

Public health impacts demonstrate that the health of our environment is directly tied to the health of our communities, and some groups are disproportionately affected. Our climate fight must be guided by equity and justice – and we can start acting by learning.

Sign Up for our E-Newsletter, Climate Connection

Each month, we’ll send you climate information, community action, and solutions. Sign up for our newsletter to join our climate action community and help us tackle climate change.

A Splash of Good News

As one of the world’s largest, natural carbon sinks (a sponge that sucks up rampant carbon dioxide emissions) the ocean is working incredibly hard to balance the impacts of climate change.

Unfortunately, that means a lot is changing inside our waters: from warming temperatures to acidification, climate change’s effects on our ocean are impacting us, our communities, and our marine ecosystems. You might have already seen this in tides creeping closer to our shores or some of our beloved marine organisms, like lobsters or cod, shifting away from where we normally find them.

But there’s Good News

Humpback Whale © Jennifer Childs

A 2020 study examines the current trends in marine conservation initiatives such as habitat restoration and fisheries management. The authors estimate that marine ecosystems can substantially rebuild by 2050 if we amplify and commit to this conservation work together.

For example, the study cites that globally, we’ve gone from protecting .09% of the ocean (3.2 million km2) in 2000 to 7.4% of the ocean (26.9 million km2) now through Marine Protected Areas. Here in Massachusetts, we’re already restoring marine habitats and ensuring the protection or management of important marine species.

Climate Mitigation is Integral

We’re on the right path. However, the study authors urge that our initiatives must include climate change mitigation. This means reducing and eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions that introduce new threats (such as sea level rise and warmer temperatures) and aggravate existing threats (like overfishing and habitat loss).

Mass Audubon recognizes that climate change requires bold and urgent action. Our Climate Action Plan engages everyone in ways that we can fight climate change at its root and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a carbon neutral future by 2050.

We Can Help the Ocean Rebuild When we Work Together

The study’s results give us hope about our collective climate fight, demonstrating the potential of just how much we can achieve when we act. Even better, anyone can work to mitigate climate change – here are some ways how:

  1. Join our collective climate fight by signing up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, for climate information, solutions, and community action.
  2. Take a climate pledge to commit to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Eat local and sustainable seafood to fight climate change and combat other threats our ocean faces, such as overfishing.
  4. A good step in addressing your personal carbon footprint is reducing the amount of energy you use at home. Sign up for a No-Cost Virtual Home Energy Assessment through our nonprofit partner, All In Energy, to audit your energy usage.
  5. Make a gift to Mass Audubon to support our climate action initiatives.

The ocean needs our help. With hard work and community action, it’s possible for marine ecosystems to recover. It’s up to us to come together and tackle our collective climate fight.

An Oath to Our Ocean

Nothing says Massachusetts like the ocean. Beautiful coastlines, sparkling beaches, and local seafood are part of what makes our commonwealth special. The ocean provides humans and wildlife with so much that allows us to thrive.

Now, the ocean needs our help.

Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond wildlife sanctuary

A giant, blue sponge

The ocean is one of the world’s largest, natural carbon and heat sponges. It soaks up rampant carbon dioxide and a majority of the heat within the atmosphere created by our excess greenhouse gas emissions. Natural carbon sponges are normally excellent allies in our collective climate fight – however, we’ve exceeded our ocean’s capacity.

Two sides to the blue coin: warmer and more acidic waters

The more heat our ocean sucks up, the warmer its waters become. Globally, the ocean’s surface has warmed about 1.5°F since the beginning of the 20th century. This means that while the world’s temperatures slowly warm, so do our ocean’s waters. At the same time, the more carbon dioxide the ocean soaks up, the more acidic its waters become. All that excess carbon dioxide interacts with seawater’s pH, which increases ocean acidity.

We’re seeing the impacts of warmer and more acidic waters both on people and wildlife alike right now. Here’s how:

Sea level rise

Increasing ocean and air temperatures melt glaciers and land ice, adding more water to the ocean. Additionally, warmer temperatures cause water to expand, and push our tides farther up along our shores. Sea level rise also puts coastal communities at elevated risk for severe flooding and intense storm events.

A suffocating ocean

Increased temperatures decrease the amount of oxygen our ocean can hold. Warmer waters generally contain less oxygen, amplify how much oxygen marine organisms need, and promote harmful algal blooms that further worsen oxygen loss. Ocean oxygen loss, otherwise known as hypoxia, therefore creates uninhabitable zones for marine wildlife.

Marine organisms

We can also see climate change’s impacts on our marine organisms, who have been scrambling to new habitats with suitable water temperatures to survive and find food. The marine organisms we depend on for our local economies and love to see recreationally are either moving deeper into the ocean or moving northward.

Ocean acidification further impacts marine organisms by degrading the shells and exoskeletons that protect them. Important shellfish to Massachusetts’ local seafood economy and marine ecosystems, like mussels, are weakening because of ocean acidification’s impact.

How we can help

Our ocean deserves our love and support. We must come together and take an oath to our ocean to fight climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions – protecting the people and wildlife that depend on our big, blue world.

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletter, Climate Connection, keeps you up to date on climate news, Mass Audubon’s climate action initiatives, and ways that we can tackle our collective climate fight.

Take Mass Audubon’s Climate Pledge

You can pledge to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions both individually and as a community.

Purchase and eat local, sustainable seafood

Purchasing locally caught and sustainable seafood can help fight climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions needed to get your food to your plate – all while combating other threats amplified by climate change, like overfishing. Take some time to learn more about where your seafood comes from, how it was caught, and whether it’s in season.

Shipping demands for non-local seafood, certain types of fish farming, and even the way your seafood was caught all affect how big its carbon footprint is. Buying locally and sustainably, helps reduce that carbon footprint.

The Impact of Storytelling

Our words hold immense power. 

We all learn this pretty early on. Think of your first favorite book or movie that whisked you off into a wonderful, magical world and how that made you feel. Think about the last time you sat down with a loved one to vent your frustrations or rejoice in good news, and how your stories connected the both of you through a sense of trust and understanding.  

Storytelling is part of that critical foundation that forms our social bonds but also our larger culture itself; our stories are tools that allow us to reach a place of empathy in those we care about. 

2019 Arcadia wildlife sanctuary and Hitchcock Center for the Environment Youth Climate Summit. © Phil Doyle

That’s why storytelling is indispensable in our collective climate fight

When dealing with something that can seem as amorphous, but also as frightening, as climate change, our words can bring the phenomenon down to a personal level. Weaving a tale about your first coastal flooding incident or when you noticed your allergies worsening along with rising temperatures imbues climate change with real feeling and real experiences. These stories allow us to visualize climate change in a much more tangible way. This isn’t just happening across the world – but here and now, to people we know and love, and to our neighbors around us. 

Our stories also have the opportunity to give others hope when spirits are low. Through stories, we can connect climate action to successful solutions, community engagement, and innovation. We can demonstrate just how much all of us can do if we work together. Acting alone can be overwhelming and scary, but connecting with a community who understands your story can help you overcome these challenges. 

Anyone can tell their climate story 

If you want to try, just follow these simple steps:  

  1. Start with what you care about 
  1. Share your experience of what’s happening here and now 
  1. Focus on solutions  

You can also follow Mass Audubon’s guide on how to talk about climate change.  

Most important: remember you are not alone 

Rishya Narayanan, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Communications Manager.

My name is Rishya, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Communications Manager. I’m a Boston-based bird nerd, an ocean enthusiast, and a climate champion. I use stories to build a bridge between science and the human connection, telling tales of sea turtles and lobsters, but also of people and communities – all with the goal reaching that very same place of empathy. These stories help me connect people feeling lost about the climate crisis to real solutions they can engage in, so that we form a community that supports each other and acts together. 

Our “Meet a Climate Champion” series will feature everyday people, like you and me, invested in solving the climate crisis. Our champions will tell their stories, taking you through their journey of why they care, what they’re doing to act, and what brings them hope. 

Talking about climate change, telling our personal stories, is one of the best ways to reach peoples’ hearts and inspire climate action in our communities.

If you’re looking for ways to stay connected with Mass Audubon’s climate action work in the meantime, sign up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, for climate information, community action, and solutions. You can also nominate your local climate champion by commenting below or sending us an email at climatechange@massaudubon.org.

— Rishya Narayanan 

Climate Change Disrupts Pollinator Buzz and Bustle

Every spring our world blossoms with life: melodious bird song accompanies the bursts of growth in our plants, flowers, and trees. As our backyards and neighborhoods fill with bright colors and vivid aromas, a special group of animals work behind-the-scenes to ensure the survival of our flora: pollinators.

Hairy-banded Andrena

What are Pollinators?

Pollinators are animals that help plants reproduce by spreading pollen, a powdery material that fertilizes plants. By doing so, pollinators conserve and propagate the plants we have in our backyard and the plants we depend on for food.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, over 75% of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of all food we eat require pollinators to reproduce! The busy-bodies behind these plants’ survival include birds, bees, bats, and even beetles.

While pollinators have been supporting our lives for years and ensuring our local ecosystems thrive, they need our help now more than ever. Many species of pollinators are experiencing dramatic declines to their populations. For instance, three species of bumblebees in the eastern US have experienced a 90% decline over the last 30 years.

Climate change only heightens and multiplies other environmental threats such as pesticide use, habitat degradation, and the spread of non-native, invasive plants – here’s how:

Warming Temperatures

Climate change gradually increases the overall temperature both around the world and in Massachusetts. To try and accommodate for shifting temperatures, many species have to scramble towards new habitats that meet their environmental needs.

Unfortunately, some pollinators (like bees) are not as good at dealing with a warming world through such adaptations. When animals are stuck in unsuitable environments, many of their critical behaviors are negatively altered. Mating and reproduction are a few pollinator behaviors impacted by warming temperatures and inability to adapt.

Additionally, parasites, diseases, or predators that require generally warmer environments to survive are now moving upwards to Massachusetts as the state’s overall temperatures increases. Studies suggest that gut parasite Nosema ceranae has shown to infect honey bees at higher rates during warmer temperatures, for example.

Earlier Springs

Climate change disrupts weather patterns across the world. In Massachusetts, that means shorter and milder winters and earlier springs. As climate change affects our seasons, flowers and plants are now blooming earlier.

These plants, and their pollen, are a food source for pollinators and critical to their survival. Earlier springs means the timing of when plants produce pollen and when pollinators are ready to consume pollen might not align.  Pollinators can therefore have less access to food or might completely miss out on their food source because of shifting seasons.

How we can help

Now, it’s our turn to protect our pollinators the same way they’ve protected our ecosystems and plants! We can come together and fight climate change by reducing and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions so our pollinators survive, thrive, and continue their hard work.

When we act on climate change together, we can make an impact and protect the people and wildlife we love. Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Kris Quinn

Sign up for our newsletter.

Our world needs nature heroes, and we can fight climate change together. Sign up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, to learn more about climate information, solutions, and community action.

Plant a pollinator garden.

Planting a pollinator garden not only beautifies your yard and provides food for existing pollinators, it also fights climate change. Plants are carbon sinks: meaning they can soak up carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas, like a sponge. A garden, therefore, can be one of nature’s climate-fighting tools. Learn how to plant a native pollinator garden to fight climate change.

Advocate for protecting pollinator habitats.

An Act to Protect Pollinator Habitat (S.497/H.818) aims establish a commission to study statewide opportunities for improving pollinator health by increasing and enhancing native habitat. This act would help preserve important places for pollinators to live and nest, while maintaining (and increasing) natural lands that help fight climate change by acting as carbon sinks. Learn more and take action here.

The Early Bird Sings a Tale of Climate Change

As buds bloom and seedlings sprout, you can hear the familiar chorus of American Robins in your backyard, signaling the arrival of spring. Over the last few years, however, you may have heard our robins start singing earlier than usual.

What We Know

A recent study found that migrating American Robins now start their journeys about 12 days earlier than they did in 1994 because of climate change’s impacts on temperature and weather.

Robins can be seen near year-round in the US, and since the 1900s have been sighted in Massachusetts during the winter. However, most American Robins migrate from wintering habitats to breeding habitats in response to food availability. These migrations can span as far as from Central America in the winter to throughout the US and even into Canada in spring and summer.

To track the south to north migratory patterns of these hallmark birds from Alberta, Canada to throughout Alaska between 1994-2018, scientists outfitted a group of migrating American Robins with small GPS harnesses. They found that environmental cues affected robin migration. Namely, snow and temperature were among the strongest influences: during drier and warmer winters, robins would migrate earlier than normal.

Study results suggest robins have been migrating five days earlier every decade since 1994 (for a total of about 12 days), indicating a response to warming temperatures.

What this tells us About Climate Change

One of climate change’s impacts is higher average temperatures and shorter, milder winters. American robin’s early arrival, even in New England, is just one way we can see climate change impacting our wildlife, here and now with increasing intensity.

According to Mass Audubon’s 2017 State of the Birds report, warmer winters shift the way critical food webs work and warmer overall temperatures influence the timing of ecological events – like when leaves and insects pop out for spring.

Such changes can lead to climate change induced food shortages and missed foraging or predation opportunities. Climate change’s impacts cascade through the environment, reflecting on species like the American Robin down to the availability of the food they eat, such as earthworms. But we can help!

Making a Difference Together

American Robins sing an important tale about climate change’s impacts – it’s up to us to listen and learn.

To support our wildlife, we must fight climate change at its source by reducing and eliminating excess greenhouse gas emissions. Join our collective climate fight by signing up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, to stay up to date on how to act on climate as a community .

You can also take our climate pledge to commit to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions both individually and as a community or make a gift to Mass Audubon to support our climate action initiatives.

When we act together, we can fight climate change to protect the world around us and the wildlife we love.

If you want to learn more about American Robins during your climate action journey, check out Mass Audubon’s “Bird of the Day” with Joan Walsh, Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology

Your Mass Audubon Earth Week Calendar

April 18 marks the beginning of Earth Week 2020. This year, activities have gone completely virtual so we can still safely convene around a common goal: Climate Action. If you don’t know where or how to start celebrating, we’ve compiled a Climate Action Calendar to guide your festivities. Download an interactive copy of the calendar.

Day 1, April 18:

Earth Day 2020 Boston Facebook Live Rally, 10 am–1 pm

Kick off Earth Week by joining Boston Earth Day’s Facebook live event. Throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from various experts (such as City Councilor Michelle Wu and Mass Audubon’s very own Climate Change Program Director, Alexandra Vecchio), engage with others in the Massachusetts climate action community, and listen to some great music.

Day 2, April 19:

Take the Pledge to Vote, All Day

A consistent voter wields the power of voice. Mass Audubon and the Environmental Voter Project are working together to remind you to vote in each election. These simple reminders can dramatically increase someone’s likelihood of voting.

Day 3, April 20:

Mass Audubon Virtual Climate Café, 7–8:30 pm

Join Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to discuss and engage in climate solutions. While we’re socially distancing, login and learn about the origins of Earth Day, find out more about greenwashing, and discover how you can be involved and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Registration is required. A link to the virtual cafe will be sent out approximately four hours in advance of the start time.

Day 4, April 21:

Electric Cars Are Greener Than You Think 12–1 pm

Join the Green Energy Consumer Alliance in discussing electric vehicles and climate change. Learn how clean electricity mixes, especially those implemented locally in towns and cities across Massachusetts, are guiding us towards a zero-carbon future.

ACE’s 6th Annual Earth Week Climate Teach-In, 1–2 pm

This is a great event for educators and their students that includes climate change trivia, Q&A with special guests, and climate curriculum in celebration of Earth Day.

Ask me Anything (AMA): Climate Change and Wetland Restoration – Submit Your Questions at 2 pm

Ever wonder about the mysterious, climate fighting power our local wetlands wield? Hop on over to @MassAudubon’s Instagram Story to submit your questions to Lauren Kras, Mass Audubon’s Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary Director. Lauren will answer the questions on April 23. *You must have an Instagram account to submit a question*

Day 5, April 22 (Earth Day):

Earth Day Youth Climate Strike: Day One, All Day

  • Day one of the three-day virtual youth climate strike begins with collective power, unity, and environmental justice through storytelling and community building. Strike with Us’ National Live Stream: Storytelling highlights the voices of people on the frontline of climate change, Indigenous, and POC (people of color) leaders. Register >

Eyewitness: Earth Day Storytelling Slam, 12–1:30 pm

Climate Generation’s live, national event aims to share personal experiences about climate change including stories, poems, and musical performances. 

Day 6, April 23:

Earth Day Youth Climate Strike Day Two, All Day

  • Today’s focus is fossil fuel divestment. At Strike with Us’ National Live Stream: Divest, participants can find out how corporations are investing in the climate crisis by investing in fossil fuels, and why stopping this is one of the most important ways we can address the climate emergency. Register >

Food and Agriculture Seminar, 9 am–12 pm

In partnership with Earth Day Network, We Don’t Have Time’s 2020 Climate Conference includes this international seminar on food and agriculture’s impact on climate change globally. Tune in to learn from speakers from the UN, Project Drawdown, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

AMA: Climate Change and Wetland Restoration, 2 pm

Lauren Kras, Mass Audubon’s Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary Director, is taking over our Instagram account to answer all YOUR questions about Climate Change and Wetland Restoration! Hop on over to @MassAudubon’s Instagram story to see these questions answered live. *You must have an Instagram account to view our story*

Day 7, April 24:

Earth Day Youth Climate Strike Day Three, All Day

  • The final day of striking focuses on the urgency of effecting political change through inspiring youth across the nation to register to vote. Participate in a digital, voter registration challenge to see which region of the country can register the most voters and call on elected officials to support advocacy. Register >
  • You can also join the Worcester Strike: Political Action, 12–1 pm and 7–8:30 pm

Birds, Bark, and Brews (21+), 4–5 pm

Raise a glass to mother nature while learning about the basics of birding and tree identification! Zoe Davis, Project Coordinator at Climate Ready Boston, will host Tree ID 101 and bring her extensive background in urban climate resilience planning, climate municipality preparedness, and land stewardship to the lesson.

Day 8, April 25:

Climate Hackathon, 9 am–12 pm

This isn’t a broadcast, it’s a hackathon! Working in small groups, hackathon-ers will explore communication, design, technology, and sustainability to work towards solving the climate crisis. You don’t have to be a computer programmer to participate.

Looking for other ways to engage this month?

Tune into our last AMA of April. Submit your questions about Climate Change and Urban Food Systems on April 28 at 2 pm on our Instagram for Nia Keith, Mass Audubon’s Statewide Climate Change Education Manager, to answer them on Thursday, April 30!

Celebrate Earth Month with Mass Audubon

For 50 years, the entire world has gathered on one day to celebrate our environment. Since 1970, Earth Day reminds us that we have the power to protect our planet and effect change. This year, Earth Day’s theme, climate action, urges us to once again use our voices and tackle the current climate crisis.

During the entire month of April, Mass Audubon is celebrating climate action in commemoration of Earth Day, April 22. Here are some tips on how you can join us:

Read a Book About Climate Change

If you’re suddenly finding yourself with much more time on your hands, sit back, relax, and read a good book about your world and climate change. Here are 12 books about climate solutions as inspiration for action and a source of hope.   

Reading can help us build connections to the world around us and understand how climate change impacts that world. Once you learn about the climate crisis through a good book, you might feel better equipped, maybe with new climate language, to communicate to your friends, family, and community why they should care about it.

Channel Learning Through Art

Artistic expression can combat feelings of anxiety or stress that come with dealing with the novel coronavirus. Take some time to get creative with your household: paint, draw, or color your favorite part of the environment or a special place that you love to visit.

After you’re done, do some research with your household and talk about how climate change affects the subject of your art. Then, draft a plan for what you can do to protect that subject together and start taking action.

Need ideas? Mass Audubon offers nature coloring pages that depict Massachusetts’ wildlife! Share your masterpieces and climate action plans with us by tagging @MassAudubon on social media. You can also email us.

Explore your Neighborhood (Safely!)

With spring’s warmer temperatures comes the desire to go outdoors. If you can do so while maintaining appropriate social distance and compliance with any public health advisories, take a walk or bike around your neighborhood. Getting into the habit of biking can inspire more eco-friendly methods of commuting to work once we return to the daily grind, providing a muscle-powered alternative to cars.

Additionally, Project Drawdown explains that going on walks around our neighborhood can provide us with insight about its infrastructure—namely, how “walkable” it is. In other words, your walk can help you determine if your neighborhood prioritizes safe, walking-based travel, or if you would need to depend on greenhouse gas emitting cars to get around. You can take these insights to your local, elected official to advocate for a more walkable community.

Join a Digital Group to Talk About Climate Change

It’s easy to start feeling isolated and disconnected while socially distancing, and it can be hard to find ways to talk about these feelings. Similarly, people may feel isolated when it comes to talking about climate change. A recent study indicated that over half of all Americans say they rarely or never talk about climate change with their friends and family.

Many have taken to the web to stay engaged with their friend groups and communities during COVID-19 through video calls or online forums. These very tools can also help address any anxiety or isolation you may feel talking about climate change.

For example, Mass Audubon has a Climate Action Facebook Group, where people can create friendships and community over a shared dedication to climate action. You can also join Mass Audubon’s Drawdown Ecochallenge team to fight climate change as a digital community. Community learning and discussion help make social distancing a little easier, while providing us with hubs for climate action.

Donate to Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program

Mass Audubon’s Climate Action Program can only succeed with your help. Your support makes a difference in our collective fight for a livable planet. Our members, donors, and volunteers provide critical support to keep our climate action initiatives impactful and active.

From building a corps of climate action leaders at all ages, advocating for impacting climate policies, to protecting and stewarding the most important land, your support will help us realize our vision of a carbon neutral Massachusetts.

Start Celebrating

Earth Day’s 50th anniversary gives us the opportunity to engage in climate action close to home, while also building our collective power with others from both in our community and around the world. Social distancing has shown us that collective engagement is still possible and more important than ever. This month, join Mass Audubon for climate action, inspiration, and community!

Stay tuned: Earth Month is the perfect way for all of us to come together and celebrate community climate action. If you found these tips useful, stay tuned for an Earth Week Climate Action Calendar, full of even more actions, webinars, and events you can partake in!

Climate Action in Times of Social Distancing

We all know what it’s like to be stuck at home, socially distancing during COVID-19. There are only so many times you can binge your favorite show on Netflix or read your favorite book before you might start to feel a bit disconnected from the world.

If you’re feeling like this, we have good news. One of the ways Mass Audubon is celebrating Earth Day, April 22, COVID-19 edition, is by participating as a team in the month-long 2020 Drawdown Ecochallenge. The Drawdown Ecochallenge is a global competition that consists of a set of actions aimed at tackling our collective climate footprint to fight climate change.

With a dash of friendly competition, this Ecochallenge allows you to select certain actions, ranging in difficulty and frequency, that will help reduce the amount of carbon you emit. Each action you take contributes points towards the Mass Audubon team and allows you to gauge your impact real-time throughout the challenge.

The Ecochallenge allows us to still come together digitally as a community and stay connected with what’s happening to the environment around us. With plenty of actions we can complete while socially distancing, the Ecochallenge is just one of the ways we can celebrate Earth Week while keeping our communities safe and healthy.

Whether it’s taking a much needed, daily walk to check out the infrastructure of your neighborhood or doing some research on what makes seafood sustainable, the Drawdown Ecochallenge can bring us together to celebrate Earth Day’s 2020 theme, Climate Action, as a digital community and keep engaging with our environment in safe ways.

The challenge begins on April 1 and lasts until the end of the month, April 30. Join Mass Audubon’s team and get ready to tackle climate change together! Tag @MassAudubon in your #Ecochallenge photos for a chance to be shared on our social media platforms.

Green Your Transportation

In recent years, the transportation sector has surpassed power plants as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US. The low cost of fuel, American’s desire for bigger vehicles, and continued sprawling development that requires more individuals rely on automobiles to move around has driven a steady uptick in vehicle emissions.

This makes the transition to an electric or hybrid vehicle one of the more effective things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re among the 83% of Americans who drive regularly, it’s now easier than ever to switch to electric and hybrid vehicles that emit roughly a quarter as much CO2 as gasoline powered vehicles.

Electric Vehicle Charging via Noya Fields
Plugged In Electric Vehicle Charging via Noya Fields/Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Why make the change?

Unlike traditional vehicles, electric vehicles do not release any exhaust emissions when driven. This means that they not only reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they also eliminate dangerous air pollution that causes smog and other health and ecological risks.

Even better, drivers can cut their emissions down to zero by charging electric or hybrid vehicles through renewable energy such as solar, wind, or hydropower. That’s why Mass Audubon now provides electric vehicle charging stations at many of our sanctuaries across the state, all powered by renewable sources. It’s also why we support An Act to Secure a Clean Energy Future, which sets zero-emissions standards for state-owned or leased vehicles.

Beyond helping save the planet, a greener vehicle can save your wallet as well. On average in the US, the cost of fueling your car with electricity is less than half the cost of fueling your car with gasoline. (You can even charge your car for free at the Habitat Education Center & Wildlife Sanctuary or Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary.)

Electric vehicles are also more reliable and cheaper to maintain than traditional vehicles. If that’s not reason enough, when you purchase a new electric vehicle you can receive up to a $7,500 tax credit from the federal government, and for those purchasing before September 30, 2019,  an additional $1,500 rebate from the state of Massachusetts.

How else can I help?

Not everyone can switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle today, but fortunately there is still much you can do to fight climate change during your daily travels. Carpooling or taking public transit instead of driving even a few times a month can reduce your carbon footprint. Walking or biking shorter distances when possible can help to eliminate it entirely.

Working from home once or twice a week can also go a long way towards a greener future, with telecommuters in 2017 preventing 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. If you do use a traditional car, properly inflating your tires, driving slower, and avoiding idling can save on both emissions and expenditure at the gas pump.

Pledge to Green Your Transportation

Ready to be a climate hero? Take the Green Transportation Pledge.

“I pledge to do any (or all) of the following:

  • Upgrade to an electric or hybrid vehicle.
  • Advocate for the adoption of green vehicles in my school, work, or community
  • Ask your state legislator to support An Act to Secure a Clean Energy Future and advance a crucial clean energy bill in the State House.
  • Reduce my footprint by carpooling, biking, walking, or working from home.”

Take the Pledge >

— Taylor Wurts