People often think of climate change as a policy issue, one that is best dealt with through legislation and mandates. In fact, when MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman presented a webinar on the topic, The Dynamics of Climate Change—from the Political to the Personal, one of the questions asked by the audience was how they can take political action to help solve the climate change problem. Sterman reminded them that solving the climate change problem does not have to be something only addressed on the scale of the Paris Accord. Local governments and even individuals can play a role in changing day-to-day behaviors that ultimately impact the world in which we live.
"In the face of uncertainty, it's all the more important to express and act on support for #OurAccord at individual, relational, and organizational levels," said MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay in a recent post, referring to current politics. "At the individual level, we can all work toward a healthy, vibrant, low-carbon lifestyle. At the relational level, we must build our skills in going beyond the choir and having conversations about climate change and sustainability with people who don't agree with us." Jay's most recent book, Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World, offers tools for conducting the difficult conversations we must have about climate change.
The Greenovate Awards
Take, for example, the 10th Annual Greenovate Boston Awards. Coinciding with Earth Day, this year's awards will recognize outstanding achievement in climate action and environmental sustainability in the Boston community. Award categories include waste reduction, sustainable food, alternative transportation, and community engagement, among others.
While finalists for these awards feature corporate initiatives, government officials, and nonprofits focused on environmental issues, they also include many individuals from various Boston neighborhoods. Here are just a few.
- Michael Passariello, a high school senior who works after school as part of the Community Building and Environment division of NOAH (Neighborhood of Affordable Housing). He has involved the East Boston community in several environment and climate change initiatives, including basement cleanouts in flood-risk areas, increased resident preparedness for flood emergencies, and urban heat effect mitigation through a tree canopy census.
- Billy Perry, who has led his family of four in reducing their household electricity consumption by over 50% in the past year, while also switching to 100% renewable/green energy. Billy’s exemplary model of how to reduce consumption has inspired many friends, neighbors, and other community members.
- Loie Hayes has brought the Mission Hill neighborhood together on the common cause of climate action. Her involvement with Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN) has sparked environmental consciousness and stressed the importance of renewable energies.
As Earth Day approaches, are you thinking about your role in solving the climate change problem? Share your ideas on twitter (#OurAccord).
If you're interested in learning strategies for manifesting individual, relational, organizational, and political change related to sustainability, consider enrolling in, Strategies for Sustainable Business, led by Professor Sterman and Jason Jay.