Self-described “wildlife warrior” Paula Kahumbu stands up for Africa’s biodiversity with every tool in her toolbox, including a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology, a new television series about Kenya’s conservation heroes, and a campaign called “Hands Off Our Elephants.” Her efforts have generated unprecedented public support for wildlife conservation in Kenya and inspired a new generation of Kenyans to see wildlife conservation as a career goal.
Addressing major environmental challenges in all their dimensions is ultimately about working at scales big enough to have a global impact. That’s the perch occupied by Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. His organization works to preserve the Earth’s wildest places through collaboration, community empowerment and government engagement at all levels. WWF speaks to our hearts through beautiful images and stories — and to our minds through economic analysis, land use planning and more. Success demands the agility to view complex systems from different angles, stitch together resonant narratives, and partner with stakeholders around the globe and across public and private sectors.
Over a billion people lack daily access to clean, safe water. That staggering number is destined to rise as climate change exacerbates water inequities around the globe. Professor Farhana Sultana says it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s enough water to go around if we farm, eat, and make lifestyle and political decisions with equal access to water in mind.
The scientific verdict is unanimous: human survival depends on a planet rich in other species. Scientific consensus also warns that this life-support system is collapsing because of us. Documentary filmmaker Katie Carpenter is an award-winning storyteller about threats to biodiversity, and she’s a studied communicator who multiplies her impact through teaching, consulting and public appearances.
TV weather forecasters might be a secret weapon in the battle against climate change. They’re trained and trusted scientists who reach millions of American homes every day, connecting the dots between the environment and people’s daily lives. Ben Strauss and his colleagues at the nonprofit climate research and communication organization Climate Central use these insights to connect the public with cutting-edge climate science.
For Clare Gallagher, the urgent cry of “all hands on deck” to combat climate change brings her to her feet. The endurance athlete uses her large online following of running enthusiasts, among others, to educate and mobilize for climate action. Sponsored by outdoor-clothing company Patagonia, Clare is a Global Sports Activist for the company and an influential voice on climate action. She uses her blog and social media to spread information, link to petitions, publicize events, and urge legislators in her homestate of Colorado and nationwide to act now for the sake of the planet and humanity.
Climate change solutions aren’t free. But we know the approximate price and we have the money, according to Marilyn Waite of the Hewlett Foundation. A program officer specializing in climate and clean-energy finance, Waite, a 2006 Princeton graduate, says we need $1 trillion annually to reduce carbon emissions by 2050. The money is there and we know how to spend it — but risk aversion and a finance-as-usual mentality stand in the way.
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. But in an age of intense polarization, can we all pull together to address climate change — the most pressing issue of our time? There’s cause for optimism. Our political parties have not always been so divided on the environment, and there are ways to find common ground again. Today, environmentalists must focus on shared values with political conservatives, while conservatives must rediscover their environmental roots.
The life of farmers is tough, even in the best of times. And because of climate change, these times are far from best. Working with commodity farmers at the largest scale can help our food system adapt to environmental changes, lower its environmental footprint, and feed a population that is heading towards 10 billion people or more.
Climate disasters, mass extinction, famine, and drought: they’re all coming and they’re all linked. The critical point of no return will happen in the lives of today’s students. But the news isn’t all bad. Thanks to an army of researchers working across multiple disciplines, we have the technical and scientific capabilities to avert the looming catastrophes.