Anson Justi, Environmental Policy and Management student

A Piece of the (Climate) Action

Written by Anson Justi

This summer I had the privilege of working on my practicum with The Nature Conservancy and two of my colleagues in the EPM program, Graham Porter and Kelsey Haydon, on a new report - Nature Based Climate Solutions: A Roadmap to Accelerate Action in California. The report details nature-based methods that could help the California state government achieve its climate goals, specifically the goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. It was a challenging research project, but it was one that gave me a striking perspective on the climate change issue that my generation of humans will be facing.

For this project, there were a great deal of moving parts. There were multiple broad topics such as natural land management, reforestation, and farming practices. Within each of these topics, there were a number of smaller, practice specific topics, such as compost application within the farming practices section. Just a few words on a topic represented a whole area of study and a whole group of people working on one specific idea to be combined with many others. To organize all these different researchers to point in one direction for the report, and to synthesize all this knowledge into one final document was an impressively complicated, large-scale task that I was lucky to witness and be a participant.

Yet, I came to realize that for all these complications, the huge amount of work and expertise that this document represented was still its own small part of the climate change issue. For all the pieces of knowledge contained within this report on nature-based climate change solutions, there are even more questions outside the purview of this particular expertise. How will we find support to make these strategies law? How will we fund them? How do we teach these practices once we have made laws and funded programs? What about non-nature-based climate change solutions? And there are more still!

Before beginning my practicum, I felt that there were just a few authorities out there with answers on the burning issue of climate change - “how lucky I am to meet some of the people in one of these authoritative organizations,” I thought. Through my experience on this project, I have come to see that the idea of there being “just a few” pieces of the climate change puzzle is a nearsighted one. I feel very fortunate to have been able to participate in such an effort and to have been able to see firsthand how progress is made piece by hard-earned piece. The size of the climate change challenge is daunting, but the organization, mobilization, and expertise that works to solve this challenge is also great. This makes me optimistic about the world’s future and excited about my own participation in this progress. One might even say that the field of climate action is just as large as the problem.