Climate Literacy

December 16, 2015
By: Shannon Bartholomew, Education Ambassador

A New Hope

So, here I am, back in my cozy house in the Adirondack mountains. I look out my window and see bare slopes, devoid of snow, and listen to my kids complain about that fact. I wonder if i am experiencing a taste of the future; of what will come to be normal if we don’t make good on the agreement that was reached in Paris. I wonder what other surprises might be in store, and wonder how we, as one of the largest, most innovative, most intelligent countries on earth, can continue to deny what is right in front our eyes.

And still, this agreement gives me hope. If nearly 200 countries can sit in a room and come to consensus about what is happening, and agree on targets for action that must be met, I feel that there must be hope for true system changes across the globe. I think about my own actions and wonder how I can write this blog without sounding hypocritical, since I flew 7,000 miles round trip to attend this meeting. So, I think about what I can do – what I have to do – to try and offset my actions for this journey of a lifetime. Here’s what I have come up with so far…

My family will no longer purchase beef to eat in our household. For every kg that we don’t purchase, we are saving 13,000 grams of carbon. When possible, I will bike to work. I don’t have a long commute, and so far this winter it hasn’t been very cold, so weather permitting, my son and I will bike. I will participate in a carbon offset program supported by the Nature Conservancy. The average amount of carbon emitted per capita in the United States is 17 metric tons. I will offset 5 metric tons through this program.

While I make these pledges, they still don’t seem like enough. Sitting here in the comfort of my home while many in the world are still in the midst of destruction from superstorms, or flooding during high tide, or watching their land disappear every day… it doesn’t seem like enough. So, I will also write my representative, who has recently voted down the clean energy bill, and I will continue to support organizations that provide assistance to those in need. In my classroom, I will continue to educate my students on the urgency of this giant task ahead of us. We can make the changes; we have to make these changes for the sake of those who will incur the wrath of a changing climate at a much faster pace than I will here in the Adirondacks. If all I have to worry about is the lack of a white Christmas, well, I guess we can see the enormity of our privilege here in the states. I will no longer take that for granted, and I will begin to ask myself, “What good have I done today?”