Climate change affects all of us, but especially the poor and vulnerable. It’s time to go beyond the park clean-up to volunteering that prepares us for climate change and makes us all more resilient to the adverse changes it will bring.
We have already seen evidence of its adverse effects in Central Texas: Drier summers make for acres of wildfire tinder and heavier rains hit communities in low-lying areas.
Disasters are one way climate change affects us but there are other, more insidious ways, too. Gradual changes in the environment can threaten people’s livelihoods, lead to fluctuating prices in foods and goods and push people to live in areas away from jobs, schools, medical care and other services they need.
At the COP21 conference in Paris this week, the world’s leaders discuss a global strategy to address climate change. But the actions we take as a community can be just as and maybe even more meaningful. (In fact, Austin’s own Mayor Adler is attending and speaking at the event.) Of course, there are a number of actions you can take as an individual to reduce your carbon footprint, but here are some ways to take action now to help people in Central Texas adapt to climate change.
1. BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR POLICY CHANGE
“Politicians don’t create political will, they respond to it.” Organizations like Citizens’ Climate Lobby writes letters to federally elected representatives and to editors at local newspapers to push the nonprofit’s Carbon Free and Dividend policy, a proposal that aims to correct the artificial price of fossil fuels and create a price that accounts for their true social costs. CCL believes the policy will drastically reduce emissions, create jobs, and support small businesses and families — all without growing government.
Volunteers with CCL will hear the latest global warming science, politics and policy as well as understand strategic initiatives to change policies and persuade leaders to take action. You’ll know better which people and organizations to target, how to target them and what to say.
2. PROTECT OUR LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM
Supporting local farmers is a choice you can make every day, whether you shop at a farmers’ market or choose local products at the grocery store. But did you know you can also volunteer at a farmers’ market, too?
Sustainable Food Center offers a number of volunteer opportunities that let you get hands-on with materials and people to increase local food production. You can package seed packets for its Spread the Harvest program, which it them provides to Central Texas gardeners. You can also help at its Resource Give-Away Days, distributing compost and plants to attendees, answering questions and helping load compost into trucks. You might also get your hands in the dirt and help maintain the Grow Local Teaching Garden so that young people and gardening students will have a hands-on learning experience. Read more about volunteer experiences with SCF here.
3. TEACH AND INSPIRE YOUNG ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Just about every young person knows the earth is in trouble, but how many of them know about all of the ways they can impact climate change as an adult? EcoRise looks to green professionals to share their knowledge and expertise.
To date, EcoRise has brought over 500 professionals into the classroom exposing students to promising green career fields, bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to life and making difficult concepts more meaningful. EcoRise volunteers offer engaging classroom presentations, lead field trips and mentor students working on design projects. Learn more about how you can help.
Browse dozens of other local climate change and environmental organizations on the Austin EcoNetwork, which also lists upcoming events and classes.