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.
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.
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.
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.
Reducing or avoiding air travel is one of the
most effective steps we can take as individuals to combat climate change. But,
it’s not the most realistic proposition for many of us.
Through a new initiative called Jet-Set Offset, when you can’t reduce air travel, you can mitigate the impact of carbon emissions from flying by contributing to organizations like Mass Audubon working to reduce carbon emissions in other ways.
Here’s How it Works
You sign up at Jet-set Offset via email and select Mass Audubon as your favorite environmental cause.
Then, every time you fly, you will automatically donate one cent per mile to Mass
Audubon. Why one cent per mile? It’s an average estimate of the cost to offset
carbon emissions from individual air travel based on multiple carbon
Why Choose Mass Audubon
By partnering with us, Jet Set Off-Set participants will respond
to a changing climate through our work:
Advocacy – Mass Audubon fights for legislation and funding that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps communities adapt to the inevitable challenges of a changing climate.
Education – By teaching people of all ages about climate change, we inspire them to take direct action and combat climate change in their homes, schools, and communities. We also host Climate Cafes and Youth Climate Summits to convene people around this urgent issue.
Conservation – Scientific research helps determine how climate change affects the most vulnerable and endangered birds, amphibians, and mammals. With this research, we protect the land and habitats – and wildlife corridors – those animals need to thrive.
We have all heard, and perhaps even
been on the receiving end of the “young and naïve” stereotypes. Young and
carefree. Young and impressionable. Young and idealistic. And while all of those adjectives might be
accurate, they aren’t stopping youth around the world from calling into
question the actions (or lack thereof) of previous generations to address
This wave of youth activism began last year when 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden began camping outside the Swedish parliament and accused lawmakers of failing to uphold their commitments to fight climate change. Greta and her cohort of activists are clear with their message- we want action and we want it now.
The Voiceless Future
There are more young people in the
world than ever before and their commitment to social and environmental justice
cannot be ignored. Unlike previous generations, these people have grown up
learning about climate change and its impacts, watching as most elected
officials have failed to take aggressive action at the scale necessary.
Recently, a group of youth caught the
media’s attention when they confronted Senator Diane Feinstein about the Green
New Deal. In the Senator’s response, she offered them her pragmatic and perhaps
even, realistic perspective: the Green New Deal is an ambitious plan that is
unlikely to pass Congress. She also pointed out that the very people making
this request were not the ones who voted for her–an accurate assessment since
they were under 18 years old.
It begs the question…when you aren’t
yet allowed to vote, how do you make your voice heard? How do you protect your
future and safeguard yourselves against the greatest impacts of climate change?
Organizing for Climate Action
On March 15, youth around the world are walking out of school to participate in the Youth Strike 4 Climate. With over 1,000 events expected across almost 90 countries, the significance of this movement cannot be ignored.
These youth are coming together to say that they want to live their lives full of hope and excitement, not fear for their future. They are calling upon the world’s decision-makers’ to understand the crisis in front of us and commit to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions immediately.
When it comes to climate change, the deniers–a small but vocal minority–get a lot of attention. However, these young people are telling us to forget the deniers and instead worry about the delayers.
They are the group of people most threatening their future, and there are far more delayers than there are deniers. Without a doubt, the year 2080 looks bleak for these young people, but the year 2018 didn’t bring much comfort either.
No Matter Your Age–We Must Act
As inspiring as their leadership has been, leaving all of this up to our youth is just irresponsible. They have been forced to fill a void that we adults have left for far too long. It’s time that we each step up and make sure the youngest among us aren’t the only ones raising their voices.
Get engaged and support the young voices that are rising up. Here are just a few ways:
→ Make sure the youth in your community have all the tools they need to tackle this global challenge. That includes ensuring your school district is teaching Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards across K-12 curriculum.
→ Call your Senator and Representative and tell them that you want bold and swift action on climate change now. Better yet, tell your State legislators that same message. Use the tools at your disposal that many of our youth currently lack–holding the people we voted for accountable to do their job.
→ Join the movement and fight alongside the youth themselves. Find a Youth4Climate Strike near you and support those students by helping to amplify their message.
As one of Mass Audubon’s designated Climate Action Centers, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary has a goal of increasing people’s understanding of how climate change will impact us locally and inspire action.
One strategy to accomplish this goal is to engage college students studying in the Pioneer Valley via a Climate Video Contest. Students were asked to create short videos to help educate and inspire action, and the winner would receive a $1,000 prize, generously sponsored by Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company.
There were many great submissions, but the video that took first place was one by Emelyn Chiang, a sophomore majoring in Engineering at Smith College.
We also want to congratulate Claire Seaman and Rebecca Grossman for their video, which came in second place.