Tag Archives: climate action

Pushing Forward in Spite of Methane Rollbacks

In a big setback for US climate action, the federal government has rolled back requirements for capturing methane pollution. On Friday, August 14, the EPA finalized a rule that lets oil and gas companies off the hook for their methane emissions, replacing a 2016 rule that set limits on these emissions and required companies to monitor and repair leaking equipment.

By shifting our support to renewables like solar energy, we can keep polluting oil and gas companies on the hook in spite of rollbacks.
By shifting our support to renewables like solar energy, we can keep polluting oil and gas companies on the hook in spite of rollbacks.

Methane 101 

Methane (or CH4) is the second most abundant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. Alongside rampant carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, methane wraps around earth like a blanket – trapping heat inside of our atmosphere and causing our world to change.

When we burn fossil fuels, like oil and gas, we release excess greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere – methane (CH4) included. The atmosphere wraps around Earth like a blanket (trapping heat inside it) and these excess greenhouse gasses make that blanket too thick, hurting plants, animals, and humans.
When we burn fossil fuels, like oil and gas, we release excess greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere – methane (CH4) included. The atmosphere wraps around Earth like a blanket (trapping heat inside it) and these excess greenhouse gasses make that blanket too thick, hurting plants, animals, and humans.

The sources most responsible for methane emissions are the production and transportation of natural gas, oil, and coal; in other words, the fossil fuels we burn for our energy.

But methane also comes from the decomposition of organic material in landfills and livestock farming (such as cattle farmed for beef). Because of the design of their stomach systems, livestock like cows emit methane during digestion. With just how many cows we’re farming for beef and dairy globally, about 1.4 billion, cattle (alongside other grazing livestock) account for 40% of the world’s methane emissions. 

A Cause for Concern 

This recent rollback is especially concerning since methane is more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period – which means its warming impact is far more severe in a shorter period of time. To make matters worse, the regulation change comes at a time when research has found much more methane is likely entering the atmosphere than we previously thought. 

We Can Still Make a Difference 

While the rule is now official, having already gone through a public comment process, it is expected to be challenged in court. In the meantime, we can still have an impact on methane emissions by coming together and acting on climate to safeguard our future for people and wildlife alike. Whether you’re a climate action novice or a seasoned pro, here are ways we can act in spite of this rollback.  

Stage 1: Increase Plant-based Meals and Start Composting 

Switching to plant-based meals helps reduce the demand for livestock farming, one of the sources of our global methane emissions. Photo © Keith Weller, USDA.
Switching to plant-based meals helps reduce the demand for livestock farming, one of the sources of our global methane emissions. Photo © Keith Weller, USDA.

A good way to start tackling methane emissions is to look at how we contribute to them. By switching to plant-based meals and encouraging others to do the same, we’re reducing the demand for livestock farming and lowering our personal carbon footprints. Through composting, we shift decomposing, organic materials from landfills (where they release methane) to a compost pile (where the methane is absorbed). 

It’s even more engaging to get your friends, families, and communities involved. For example, do some research to see if there’s a local composting program in your neighborhood, like the City of Boston’s Project Oscar

Stage 2: Urge your Elected Officials to Support Clean Energy 

Recently, the Massachusetts House passed the 2050 Roadmap bill, which brings us closer to an equitable, clean energy future by 2050. Send your local, elected officials a message thanking them for their support, but also urging them to continue their progress on clean energy policy that reduces our fossil fuel emissions.  

Stage 3: Address the Source of our Energy 

The production and transport of fossil fuels is main source of global methane emissions. While the EPA has reversed regulations holding polluting companies accountable, as a collective we still have the power to keep them on the hook by choosing to shift our support towards renewable energy. 

First, you can make the switch to green-powered energy, like solar or wind energy. If you’ve already switched your household over, you can take your support for renewable energy one step further by ensuring your municipality has a Green Municipal Aggregation program. Visit the Green Energy Consumers Alliance’s website to see if your municipality is already involved and how you can opt-in to this community effort.  

You Asked, We Answered – Climate Action 101

On August 7, Zach D’Arbeloff, Education Coordinator and Camp Director at Blue Hills Trailside Museum took over Mass Audubon’s Instagram story to answer all your questions about climate action! 

We took it back-to-basics this month to discuss what it means to act, who can get involved, and how we can all start collectively acting on climate. 

Here Were the Top Three Most Asked Questions:

Zach D’Arbeloff holding a Barn Owl.

Q: What is the age group most involved in climate action? 

A: Whether you’re 3 or 93, it’s never too early or late to start thinking about climate action. Climate action at its core starts with small lifestyles changes and then builds up to community, collective impact – which adds up to make a big difference.  

For example, you might start out by trying to eat more plant-based meals. Then you might get your family or friends to start eating more plant-based meals with you. After, you might then figure out how you can get your whole community to join you in eating and serving more plant-based meals: perhaps you look towards local schools or restaurants, even! 

Q: What’s the most effective climate action for my neighborhood to take on? 

A: Think about things that start in a neighborhood but expand beyond it. Planting a rain garden in our backyards, making sure we’re refusing and reusing (and then recycling) single-use plastics, and even composting start right at home, but have regional and even global impacts. Engaging our neighborhoods in simple, daily challenges to embark on your journey is a great way to build up your climate action, together. 

Q: What are daily actions I can take to help fight climate change? 

A: Starting out our climate action journeys is all about consistent, daily actions – from driving your car less to eating less meat to even drying your clothes in the sun in the summer. Remember to continue challenging yourself in your climate action, scaling up as you get more comfortable with what you started with, and looking for ways to get the people around you involved. 

It’s Up to Us to Tackle Climate Change 

No matter who we are, we all have a stake in our collective climate fight. The crisis is something we can solve when we put our hearts and minds together, challenge ourselves, and empower each other. Visit our website for ideas on where you can  start. 

Tune in Next Time

If you didn’t have time to submit your questions, you can ask away in the comments below. We’ll be back the first Friday of every month to takeover Mass Audubon’s Instagram and talk about Climate Action. Visit our Instagram Story in September to learn more about land and climate change and submit your questions. See you then! 

The Importance of Local Climate Lessons

Climate change can sometimes feel like something happening far away that’ll only reach us in the future. Even more worrying is that Americans are least likely to think they themselves will be harmed by climate change, and over half of Americans say that haven’t personally experienced its effects. 

These findings demonstrate a need to emphasize how the crisis is happening here and now, to our communities and wildlife in our backyards. Place-based education, which uses culture, ecology, landscapes, and tangible experiences to guide our understanding of the world around us, can create that connection, allowing us to visualize these impacts close to home in real-time. 

Nature’s Wisdom Spreads Far and Wide 

We know that moving people to action requires more than just data, we must touch hearts and minds. When we use nature as the conduit for learning about climate change, we contextualize the crisis in places people care about and are familiar with. 

Place-based climate education is a pathway through which we can reach a place of empathy and care to inspire collective climate action. Using nature to visualize climate adaptation and response reaches people of all ages and backgrounds, and this knowledge can even spread to their families and communities. 

Turning Lessons into Action 

Mass Audubon offers various opportunities for place-based education to engage people in both forming connections with the world around them and then acting to protect that very same world in their communities. 

Our climate programs provide people with a space for learning and action. For example, our Youth Climate Summit Program, an immersion in climate action, engages middle-high school aged youth in brainstorming, managing, and implementing a Climate Leadership Project in their own towns and neighborhoods.  

By learning through nature, our communities, and the places we love, we build lasting connections that drive deeper dedication to acting on the climate crisis that threatens their future. 

A Movement for Our Future

I was born in 1994, making me 25 years old.  

In that short amount of time, humans have pumped more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere than any time before. 

This is the present and future I and so many young people were thrown into. Now, it’s become our responsibility to ensure a habitable and healthy planet for us and our children. I care about climate change because a changing climate is all I know.

Andrew Ahern, Community Engagement Coordinator, Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation and Wildlife Sanctuary.

It’s my generation’s future on the line.

I like to say the 21st century is a century of solving global problems at a local level, so no one can claim boredom: there’s too much to do. Young people have been hearing this call, especially in the last four years with the rise of the youth climate strikes, the Green New Deal, and the Sunrise Movement—all of which I have been a part of and have served as catalysts for educating, activating, and inspiring me.

People are always looking for hope and motivation. Climate action can provide that space for young people who haven’t found it yet.

I stay motivated by the climate movement I am a part of.

It’s being part of the movement, surrounded by so many caring, smart, talented, and passionate young people, that keeps me going, engaged, and ready for action. Being part of a movement gave my life purpose and will do the same for many others.

I find hope in strangers and friends alike who stand next to me in marches; who listen to frontline communities about the disproportionate toll climate change takes on them; and who are actively pursuing a world based on justice, democracy, and ecological well-being. You can and will find hope in a movement based on collective community action.

I’m Andrew Ahern, and I’m a Climate Champion.

Over the past ten months I’ve had the privilege of serving as a Terracorps member with Mass Audubon and the Worcester community organizing, educating, and activating people towards climate action.

During this time, I organized over 40 of Worcester’s youth for Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary’s first Youth Climate Summit. I created community spaces for people to learn and talk about climate change through our Climate Café series. I reached over 1,000 unique viewers during digital Earth Day events I organized with the Worcester chapter of the Sunrise Movement. These are just some of my accomplishments during my service term, and I’m thrilled I get to build and continue this work as I enter into a new position with Mass Audubon.

As my work continues with Mass Audubon, climate action only gains importance with each passing year. The need to get off fossil fuels, change our agricultural systems, reduce our consumption habits, and invest in education, healthcare, and renewable energy (all “green” jobs) are initiatives for the future I direct my time and energy into.

I have two pieces of advice for young people: build a better future and repair a broken past.

Begin imagining what a better world will look like for our generation and the following ones. What we lack is not the technological feasibility or even political power, but a shared vision for a better future. Having a vision turns this project into a mass movement.

Show up and get involved. I don’t mean just attending a climate change program or joining a rally, but also supporting those most affected: from disaster relief, to homelessness, to caring for our elders. Climate change puts our most vulnerable in increased danger. They will need help in a warming and sea-rising future and we need to be able to hear the call.

Here’s to the next and most important 10 years of our collective lives!

– Andrew Ahern, Community Engagement Coordinator, Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation and Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nominate your local climate champion by commenting below or sending us an email at [email protected] If you’re looking for more ways to engage with Mass Audubon’s climate action work, visit our Instagram Story to ask us all your questions about climate action on Monday, August 3 at 12 pm for our First Friday Climate Action AMA.

There’s more to Summertime than Heat

You can’t miss the telltale sign of summertime: that classic spike in heat. We’re all probably feeling a little sweatier than usual, but the heat is more than just uncomfortable. 

That’s because temperature is directly linked to air quality and our health – and climate change aggravates that link. 

The Basics of Air Pollution 

Ozone is what we more commonly refer to as smog. Particle matter (PM) is a combination of incredibly small solids and liquids in the air that can get trapped in our lungs or bloodstream. Both of these pollution sources are directly associated with increased rates of asthma attacks, heart damage, lung cancer, dementia, and even pregnancy risks. 

State of the Air 

The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released their 2020 “State of the Air” report, which details that nearly half of all Americans live in counties with poor air quality. The report also finds that eight of the Commonwealth’s reporting counties demonstrated more unhealthy days of ozone levels compared to last year’s report. These counties are Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester. 

One of the Culprits is Climate Change 

Sources that spew greenhouse gasses, like cars and power plants, also spit out PM and ozone. As climate change continues to bring higher daily average temperatures, air pollution like ozone increases. In fact, the three years studied in ALA’s most recent report (2016-2018) comprise three out of the five hottest years in the United States, correlating with both climate change’s warming effects and the report’s findings of increased unhealthy days of ozone levels.  

Differences in Impact 

We all don’t feel climate change’s impacts on air quality the same. Certain vulnerable populations, such as people of color (especially Black Americans) and low socioeconomic status communities, have shown to suffer disproportionately from public health impacts like increased air pollution.  

A recent systematic review makes this link even more clear. The review’s research team examined over 32 million U.S. births and found a direct connection between exposure to extreme levels of heat, air pollution, and pregnancy risks like underweight or stillborn babies. But they also found that Black mothers and babies across the country suffered these risks at a much higher rate than the rest of the population.  

Breathe Easy, We Can Help 

Albeit in different ways, climate change affects every one of us. Coming together to fight the crisis means acting to protect our communities, our neighbors, and our most vulnerable populations. Anyone can make a difference, here’s how: 

  1. The EPA is rolling back environmental regulations that protect us, wildlife, and plants by refusing to hold polluting companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution accountable. Use your voice to oppose these rollbacks and protect the health of our environment. 
  1. Those who suffer a greater burden from climate change and air pollution tend to be marginalized communities, like people of color. Learn more about climate change and racism and why it’s important to act on climate with equity in mind. 
  1. Take a Climate Pledge to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by yourself or with your friends, family, and community. 
  1. Sign up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, for climate information, action, and community solutions. We’ll send you monthly updates on climate change and how you can make a difference. 

You Asked, We Answered – Climate Change and Cities

Last week, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program Director, Alexandra Vecchio, took over our Instagram story to answer your questions about climate change and cities for our First Friday Climate Action Ask Me Anything (AMA).

Here Were the Top Three Most Asked Questions:

Boston Youth Climate Strike, September 2019.

Q: Does climate change affect cities differently?

A: Yes, because of what lies inside cities. Cities contain a large number of impervious surfaces, which don’t absorb water. These surfaces increase runoff and flooding during storm events.

Cities also experience much warmer temperatures compared to surrounding rural or suburban areas due to increased absorption and retention of heat. Our urban centers house less flora than their suburban and rural counterparts, which turn heat into moisture to “sweat” and keep their environment cool. Paired with dark asphalt, buildings, and other typical urban features, our cities are retaining and creating heat at a higher rate.

Q: How can we use nature in our cities to fight climate change?

A: In my city, Somerville, I love to see street trees, which provide habitat for local wildlife, shade for our communities, and natural climate mitigation. Trees mitigate climate change by soaking up the most common greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, like a sponge.

As we see increased temperatures in Massachusetts due to climate change, trees are particularly important to shade our homes and reduce the amount of energy we use to keep cool. Trees also help alleviate the urban heat island effect: when parts of our cities are significantly hotter than neighboring suburbs.

Q: I’ve seen a lot of rain gardens around Boston. Can you tell me about the impact they have?

A: Rain gardens, or bioswales, use vegetation to help absorb storm water during heavy rain events, filter out pollutants, and then allow the water to slowly sink back into the soil. They can also provide habitats for local pollinators and wildlife.

This nature-based climate solution improves water quality and reduces flood risks – protecting our homes and businesses. Green infrastructure like this can be found all throughout Massachusetts.

We Can Help

It’s easy to focus on the risk climate change poses to our urban centers, but we encourage you to look around your own city for the many climate solutions in action. You can get involved in a street tree planting initiative like the City of Boston’s program, help care for a nearby community garden, or serve on a local board to advocate for the increased use of nature-based solutions or green infrastructure in your own neighborhood.

You can also visit one of our urban wildlife sanctuaries to see natural, urban climate solutions in action: Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, and Oak Knoll in Attleboro.

Tune in Next Time

If you didn’t have time to submit your questions, ask them in the comments below or email us at [email protected]. If you’re looking for another space to ask questions and have judgement-free conversations about climate change until our next AMA, register for our virtual Climate Café on July 16.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram, @MassAudubon, and visit our Story next month on August 3 to ask your questions for our First Friday Climate Action AMA. We’ll see you then!

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 [email protected]

— Rishya Narayanan