Women Voices on Climate Change, Part 2

Inspired by the book All We Can Save, a celebration of the feminist climate renaissance, we asked 15 local women who are thinking about and working on climate change to respond to the question: “If we are at a crossroads of peril and promise, where do you see possibility alive and growing?”

Here is the second and final post in the series which is part of ongoing programming for Climate Year at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences. To read part one of “Women Voices on Climate Change,” click here to go to our previous post. For the next eight responses, read on.

Melissa DelMonego, she/her, Chester Springs, Mom/Wife/Daughter, Environmental Advocate, Project Manager

I see possibility in the creative thinking and innovative ideas from people and organizations all around the world who are helping to solve global warming issues and the adverse impacts on the planet. I see possibility in the youth who have stood up and taken on governments and industry to demand change and are not backing down. I see possibility in the discussion and momentum that seem to be building around the gravity of the situation, the injustices that have occurred, and the need to change our ways. I see possibility in the reintroduction of indigenous and regenerative farming practices to restore balance to ecosystems and the soil. And I see possibility in the examples of strong feminine leaders who do not take no for an answer and continue to move forward with compassion and a sense of community.

Melissa Lee, she/her, Philadelphia, Founder, CEO of The GREEN Program

Humans are constantly growing and evolving symbiotically with our planet. With the knowledge that we’ve acquired, growth of our intelligence, and innate ability to change and adapt, humans have been capable of building futures that we didn’t think were possible decades ago. Our inaction to fight climate change will lead us to peril; however, adapting and taking bold climate action will not just help us sustain, but also thrive in a new ecosystem. Clean mobility, carbon removal and offsetting, energy decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization, smart infrastructure, circular economies and regenerative food systems are just a few of the industries that will play a promising role as we move forward into this fight for a sustainable future. There are innovations happening everyday around us that will make a positive impact. With more world leaders taking on a responsibility for our planet and future generations, we hold immense potential to continue to evolve and grow into a sustainable future.

Sam Seiden, she/her, Philadelphia, Student

We are currently at an imperative moment in human history where we must determine whether we want to continue to live prosperously on Earth or fall to our own unnecessary wants. As humans continue to contribute to the growing issue of climate change and more natural disasters occur, we must understand how we can influence change on a larger scale. The problem is not just impacting some, but every person on Earth. The ideas of indigenous peoples, women and other underrepresented communities are where opportunities lie for us to save humankind. Indigenous ideals have always put nature at the forefront. We must work together to break the boundaries of the patriarch so that we can implement new solutions for ways we can work in tandem with the natural environment instead of destroying it.

Sarah Newman, she/her, Chester Springs, Mother and nurturer of all things living

After reading All We Can Save with the Academy Book Circle group and learning of all the ways women are stepping up to lead their communities, organizations and policy toward a more livable, just and better future, it’s hard not to see possibility everywhere I look. From media coverage of the climate crisis and incorporating climate change into weather reports, to technological pushes for energy usage and product innovation, to divestment of funds from fossil fuel companies, to hands-on work planting trees and protecting wildlife, it’s hard not to see that with whatever tools you have at your disposal there is a way to make a difference. Yes, it may feel too late. Yes, the problem may be too large to solve quickly or as immediately as we need. But there is no shortage of ways to get involved, make climate solutions the center of your personal actions, and make a difference for those yet to be born — human, animal, or otherwise. I see possibilities wherever I look because the push for survival has woken everyone up to a new society we need to build, one decision at a time.

Sloane Woerdeman, she/her, Philadelphia, Researcher in Sustainability at Drexel University

I see an incremental culture shift toward feminist ideals of community, collaboration and compassion. In response to the near-constant accounts of injustice and threats of imminent doom, I hear my peers, colleagues and family with a refined clarity on the issues that face our society. I see motivation to challenge our institutions and personal lifestyles to value sustainability over short-term gains and individual achievement. Though these ideas are large in scope, and discussing them can often feel discouraging, they’ve led to material changes in my daily life. Possibility is alive when we are navigating the peril together, inspiring one another and reaffirming our sense of humanity: one with a large capacity for love.

Stefanie Kroll, she/her, ella, Philadelphia, Academy of Natural Sciences Watershed Ecology Section Lead and Drexel University Assistant Research Professor

I am really excited to see that people are putting pressure on governments and corporations to do their part by changing policy and practices. I am encouraged to see people all over the world from different backgrounds and experiences joining in the movement. So many people have come to appreciate the outdoors more over the last year and a half than they had before. At the same time, people are really coming to terms with the reality of climate change and our need for action. We are learning more from indigenous people and their role in protecting 80% of earth’s biodiversity. There is so much to give us impetus to keep working to protect the environment and work to lessen the impacts of climate change!

Tonyehn Verkitus, she/her, Scranton, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

I have often thought: if you want to solve a problem put a handful of women in a room and give them a deadline. Women tend to think about the collective, not just the individual, and are more apt to make decisions that support and invigorate society as a whole  — think pay equality, fair benefits and ethical responsibility.

When it comes to climate change, we are at a point of crisis where the only way forward is change and women can lead the way as powerful organizers. The environmental movement was started by women. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring inspired us to care about the Earth, and today women like Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, are inspiring us to look even further. Addressing climate change requires the work of visionaries with the depth of character to make the most reticent individuals answer the call.

Violeta Yas, she/her, Philadelphia, Chief/Bilingual Meteorologist Telemundo62 & NBC10

While we have an immense amount of work to do, I see more businesses making an effort to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint. I see more cities incentivizing sustainable development. And, most importantly, I see young adults demanding a better future for themselves than the one that was created for them. We can go on and on about some of the pitfalls of social media, but it has also served as a unifying tool for the younger generation to educate themselves from an earlier age. This includes Black and Latino communities — deeply underrepresented in science and STEM fields — becoming aware of how disproportionately our communities are being impacted by climate change. My hope is this will inspire more diverse representation in the weather, water and climate space because the more people understand a topic, the more likely they are to want to do something about it. I see possibility alive and growing among communities who have long been ignored or overlooked.

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