What a summer. There was no escaping the heat, the wildfires, the floods, the droughts. Few corners of the world have escaped weather-related events these past few months, and we ache for those who have lost lives, property, and safety.
As we head into autumn, 2023 appears to be on track to become the hottest year on record, and this is just a glimpse of what’s to come. And even though C-Change Conversations has been sounding the alarm of impending change for almost a decade, this summer served as a sobering wakeup call that climate change impacts are here and now.
Yet, we have more than a glimmer of hope. As challenging as it’s been, we also know that experiencing extreme weather in person is very different from watching it occur someplace far away on TV. Repeated polling shows that most Americans believe climate change is real – now more and more people are looking for solutions. Young voters, conservative and liberal, are holding their parties accountable for action, and more corporations and governments around the world are making decisions that will help us move toward a carbon-neutral future.
All of this means our work at C-Change is more meaningful than ever, and this summer, we kept up the pace. We met with state leaders, climate scientists, and financial powerhouses, all of whom praised both the science and effectiveness of our approach and plan to recommend C-Change to their peers. We share the highlights of those meetings below, and I’m proud to say that our autumn agenda is shaping up to be even more productive.
Scientists and psychologists believe that the weather extremes this year will change the conversation on climate change. We believe so, too, and we’ll continue our work as part of that conversation. Thank you for being a part of it.
Kathleen Biggins Founder and President C-Change Conversations
A Ringing Endorsement from a Top New Jersey Republican
In June, Kathleen and C-Change team member Catherine Sidamon-Eristoff had the opportunity to present the Primer to Jack Ciattarelli, one of New Jersey’s foremost Republicans and a former gubernatorial candidate. Jack was highly engaged during the presentation and contacted C-Change just hours later to tell us that he plans to recommend our Primer to businesses and conservative groups across the state, saying: “C-Change Conversations is doing exactly what needs to be done on climate change. Namely, in a very non-partisan way, they’re talking about the issue not as a political one, but as a human one. Considering the impact on each one of us as individuals and the communities we live in, their approach is the right one and the education they provide is compelling in calling us to action.”
An Exciting Partnership with Glenmede
September brought an exciting opportunity to partner with wealth management firm Glenmede in Princeton. C-Change was selected by this nationally renowned wealth management firm for a unique presentation that melded our knowledge on the science of climate change with Glenmede’s expertise on how to factor in climate risks and the opportunities arising from clean technology when making investments.
About 75 people attended the presentation by Kathleen Biggins and Glenmede’s Sustainability and Impact team members Mark Hays and Melanie Fornes. One attendee told us afterward:
“I just wanted to take a moment to say how incredibly well conceived and presented last night’s climate program was. While I’ve had the chance to learn a lot from C-Change’s top-notch presentations over the years, I learn more every time I have the privilege of listening to [Kathleen speak]. Melanie and Mark were just brilliant. We are incredibly fortunate to have these expert and articulate young people who seem determined to combine their investment expertise with a commitment to do all they can to pragmatically mitigate the leading culprits of the climate crisis. A win-win for humanity.”
We are so proud to partner with Glenmede to help people learn about actionable ways they can help address climate change while still earning a strong return on their investments. We are doing more than providing a wake-up call about climate change – we are demonstrating that there are investment opportunities being created as society pivots to cleaner technology and processes.
Lunch and Learn with Climate Central
Climate Central, a nonprofit organization of scientists and communicators who research and report on climate change, invited Kathleen to a Lunch and Learn session on June 29. Climate Central is one of our primary resources for much of the science in our Primer, and it was so gratifying to see their scientists and policy experts respond to our work.
Climate Central’s vice president for strategic impact Karen Florini lauded C-Change not just for extensive knowledge of the science and risks of climate change, but for an approach that is unique and “critically important.” CEO and chief scientist Ben Strauss called the Primer “outstanding,” and said:
“C-Change Conversations’ Primer is an exceedingly effective presentation of the science underpinning climate change – it makes complex concepts accessible to all audiences and helps them understand the direct impact on their own lives. Even as it articulates the risks clearly and persuasively, the Primer also instills a sense of optimism that humanity can meet this challenge. I highly recommend this outstanding ‘C-Change Conversations’ Primer to associations, businesses, and individuals who want a clear understanding of the issue, presented in a non-partisan and inclusive manner.”
Interview with Berkshire Partners Co-Founder Carl Ferenbach
On July 19, Kathleen was thrilled to head to Point O’Woods on Fire Island, N.Y., to interview Carl Ferenbach, co-founder of the highly respected Berkshire Partners private equity firm. In addition to being a former investment banker, Carl is a longtime champion of the environment – he is the chairman and co-founder, with his wife, of High Meadows Foundation, a philanthropic organization that promotes and invests in ideas that address the complicated environmental and societal issues that the world is facing, including climate and energy.
Carl shared insights into the role of the private sector in addressing climate change and inspired our audience to recognize the urgency of the issue and to take action to address it. To watch a recording of the conversation, click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa5mtJgGhs17XYo6LrW7teQ
Kathleen Biggins Reconnects with Southampton Garden Club
In early September we presented the Primer to the Southampton Garden Club in Southampton, N.Y., an event that had originally been sidelined by Covid. Club members reported it was worth the wait. And for Kathleen, it was wonderful to see audience members from winter garden clubs who have seen our Primers previously and remembered the experience so positively – such a validation that the work we are doing makes a lasting impact.
C-Change Athens Events
C-Change Conversations Athens had a blockbuster week in September! The team hosted Kathleen Biggins and organized five diverse events that reached over 400 people in just three days, including presentations to a private high school, public high school, University of Georgia journalism students, the Chamber of Commerce, and a private event. Audience members included a state senator, county commissioners, school board officials, Rotarians, professionals, and skeptics.
Our Athens team reported the town was “buzzing” after we presented, with people talking about what they had learned. Kudos to the Athens C-Change team, an amazing and dedicated group committed to educating their community using our non-partisan, scientifically based approach.
The highlights were many! Here are a few:
Primer presentation to hundreds of students and faculty at Athens Academy and Clarke Central High School as well as a Board of Education member.
Private, in-home Primer presentation and a Q&A with a conservative audience. Two county commissioners and two local experts on climate change attended, including ecologist James Porter, who was featured in the film “Chasing Coral.” He said he was incredibly impressed by the C-Change Primer and that it offers much-needed hope and a direction forward.
Business Primer presentation to the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce during a public luncheon at Terrapin Brewery. About 30 people, including four county commissioners, a state senator, and several Rotary Club leaders, attended and stayed after the presentation for a robust discussion and networking.
Presentation to 40 journalism and public relations students and faculty at the University of Georgia’s Grady College. The students asked insightful questions about holding politicians accountable and greenwashing. Said Sarah Freeman, the college’s director of communications: “Kathleen’s talk was fascinating, and I think the students got a lot of it — I know I did.”
C-Change Columbia Events
C-Change Conversations Columbia is hard at work preparing for the October 26th Sustain SC Symposium, where Kathleen Biggins will present as a keynote speaker. Kathleen’s agenda is filling up fast for that visit, and we are looking forward to sharing the news from the symposium and other events in our next newsletter.
Featured Team Member: Ramsey Nix
Ramsey Nix is one of those extremely thoughtful and analytic “can do” team members who we are really fortunate to have as part of our outreach. Every month, she creates a local and state news coverage report for the Athens edition of our “Curated Climate News,” yet she still finds time to push local initiatives on climate actions, including empowering students and lobbying for cleaner, safer electric buses for the Clarke County School District. Ramsey, and the entire Athens chapter, inspire us every day. Their commitment to educating their own community in a non-partisan, unifying way is a big part of the expanding ripple that reaches more and more people. Thank you, Ramsey, and the entire Athens team!
Ramsey is a founding member of C-Change Conversations Athens. A former magazine editor, she now teaches journalism at the University of Georgia. Ramsey first became alarmed about climate change while serving in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, where desertification is threatening the country’s food supply. That experience continues to inform her life’s journey. Currently, Ramsey is raising two children with her husband, Jake. They give her every reason in the world to fight climate change.
Q: Why am I involved with C-Change? A: I got involved with C-Change because it was the first organization that I heard clearly articulate the obvious – that climate change is not a partisan problem; it’s everybody’s problem. By working together, we can transform this great challenge into an opportunity for transformation that benefits everyone.
Q: What have I learned about climate change that makes me hopeful? A: I recently visited with my neighborhood middle school’s national award-winning Science, Energy, and Adventure Team to help them write letters to politicians. These kiddos are ready to take on climate change through conservation efforts and technological innovation. All they want is for the adults in charge to follow their lead!
Reducing Our Own Footprints: Tips and Advice
We often get questions after Primers and through our website from people who are looking for ways to be more responsible with their own carbon footprint. We thought it would be fun and helpful to offer simple tips and advice to share with our audiences during C-Change events – and, of course, to follow ourselves.
Have you given much thought to microplastics? They are everywhere, from the food we eat, to the air we breathe, to the water we drink and use to bathe. Not only are they in our blood and lungs, there’s growing evidence that microplastics are contributing to climate change – as they accumulate aloft, they affect cloud formation, which has an impact on atmospheric temperature and rainfall.
Avoiding plastic altogether is exceedingly difficult, but simple adaptations in our routines can reduce both our direct exposure and the amount of microplastics we are putting into the environment. Here are 10 tips for what we can do right at home, right away:
Use reusable bags instead of disposable plastic, including for loose produce
Use wooden cutting boards instead of plastic
Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead of non-stick
Filter drinking water
Avoid disposable plastic water bottles
Don’t microwave plastic
Choose natural fabrics over synthetic and air dry as much as possible
Use plastic-free body care products, like shampoo bars and deodorants, and refillable containers instead of buying new each time
If you have tips you’d like to share in future newsletters, we’d love to hear! Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Horizon
Oct. 5: Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad – C-Change will present the Health Primer to emergency management leadership to determine how to best communicate with staff and volunteer teams about the risks of climate change.
Oct. 25-26: Sustain SC Symposium – Coordinating with C-Change Conversations Columbia, Kathleen Biggins will be a keynote speaker for this statewide conference that focuses on building a sustainable future for both the economy and the environment.
Nov. 2: Insurance is an important tool in building resilience to the threats that climate change brings to our homes, communities, and the economy, but it is becoming more expensive and harder to get. In this joint presentation sponsored by CBIZ Borden Perlman, Kathleen Biggins and Chubb Vice President Steven Fischl will discuss the reality of the changing climate and what we should each be considering to protect ourselves and our communities.
Nov. 30-Dec. 12: 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) – Kathleen Biggins and Carrie Dyckman will head to Dubai for C-Change’s first visit to connect with the international leaders who are driving global efforts to address climate change.