The White House last week honored 12 people from across the United States who are taking a leadership role in their communities on climate change.
The Champions of Change recipients are working in fields as diverse as military contracting, coastal restoration, and agriculture, but what ties them together is their belief in the importance of taking action on climate change.
One award winner, snowboarding pioneer Jeremy Jones is the founder of Protect Our Winters (POW), an advocacy group that is mobilizing the winter sports community to take action on climate change. Skiers and snowboarders are witnessing the effects of climate change firsthand as snowfall patterns shift and snow season gets shorter. These changes also haven’t escaped the attention of companies like the Aspen Skiing Company, which signed the Ceres’ “Climate Declaration” calling for Congress to act on climate change. POW’s success in getting the message out to the winters sports community highlights how a personal, impacts-related climate message can resonate, especially when there are solutions available to address the problem.
Also receiving recognition was Fred Yoder, a fourth-generation farmer involved with the 25x’25 Alliance, a group that promotes renewable sources of land-based energy. Yoder noted that farms have a huge potential to both reduce the greenhouse gases contributing to climate change and build resilience to the impacts we cannot avoid.
For example, improving soils can both store more carbon and trap more moisture in the ground. Farmers also adopt practices to make their crops more resistant to drought, which is expected to become an increasing threat in some areas due to climate change. Although the recent drought was far worse than the last major drought in 1988, new farming practices have vastly improved yields, sparing farmers significant hardship.
Adapting to the impacts that are unavoidable and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit future risk are complementary actions that will both be needed to successfully tackle climate change, and the Champions of Climate demonstrate that there are opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds to take action.