Envisioning Our Climate Advocacy and Climate Savvy Work Under A New Federal Administration – a three part exploration

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The premise of Finding Earth Works is that all work can contribute to the adaptation needed in the face of climate changes. And democracy also needs our active engagement. As President Obama said in his Farewell Address on January 10, 2017: “If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.” Now is the time to let your voice be heard about why you value the ecosystem – the place and its natural and important processes – within which you live and the planet on which you live. Be vocal about the need for clean energy and sustainability.

With a new administration at the Federal level, we need to understand the ways that we can support the functioning of the ecosystem services Earth provides and upon which we depend, regardless of any action, or inaction, at the Federal level. Let’s be clear: these ecosystem services are essential! And, the best part is that in supporting their function we can gain and practice important professional skills!

In a July 2016 blog post, we discussed ecosystem services. These are the benefits humans receive from nature. In that post, we referenced the Millennium Assessment’s categories: Supporting, Provisioning, Regulating and, Cultural Services. These services regulate the operation of essential functions on which our life depends. As the climate changes, these services are compromised. In our communities, in our work, we can bolster these services. We can do this in ways that do not require support or involvement by the Federal government.

Supporting Services and Climate Advocacy: These are the ecosystem services that make all other services possible. They include soil formation and nutrient cycling. And each of us can advance and protect these practically and civically. Practically, we can compost our yard and food waste. And, civically, we can advocate for policies at the local level that allow for re-direction of these things. In terms of food waste, we should focus specifically on large institutions which typically have high volumes of food waste. Capturing uneaten food and re-directing it when possible or re-using it in energy production and as a soil amendment means good food going to those who need it, healthier soil, and less carbon released.

Provisioning Services and Climate Advocacy: These ecosystem services provide products: food, fuel, chemicals, even, I would add, ingenuity. (Think of biomimicry; watch for a future blog about it!) When we grow our own food and purchase or trade for locally grown food and food products we contribute to the careful stewardship of production. Our individual and collective energy efficiency efforts (air sealing, insulation, CFL or LED bulb use) are a respectful and parsimonious use of ecosystem products. Consider your company’s energy footprint – what are the ways that you can help to assess energy use and advance efficiency measures? Can supply chains be shortened by finding vendors who are geographically closer?

Taking actions like those mentioned above can also help you hone important professional skills! Think transferable skills! These are skills that you develop in one context that have usefulness in another. Gathering data about the volume of uneaten food, or the length of supply chains, is good practice for defining a problem, considering the kinds of data available, and needed, and using data collection techniques. Developing and making a presentation about what you find and the implications for community regulations and services is also an experience with high transferability to your work life. You may not work in data analytics, but consider how data is used in your field. Shape your climate advocacy work in ways that both fit the need, and give you the opportunity to practice skills that you can use in your field. You may not regularly make presentations, but if you had more skills, how could you use presentations to support your work goals?

Watch for the next installment of this exploration of action to protect and sustain ecosystem services in the face of a Federal administration that does not value them sufficiently. In the meantime, tell us how you take skills from your civic life and use them professionally!

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