Op-Ed: With climate change, we may witness sequoia forests convert to chaparral.
It is perhaps the quintessential American experience: a sunny day in our native state, a friend or family on vacation. You can’t help but smile at the sight of the bright green foliage, the tall trees reaching skyward. It is easy to see why people in California are so enthused by the state’s native wildlands.
It was with this spirit in mind that a group of young people at Dartmouth College decided to spend this spring semester exploring and preserving these beautiful forests and chaparral-dotted hillsides. They call their project Climate Action, and their focus is on protecting these important ecosystems while helping to address climate change. The group’s work on climate change started as a summer project and will continue through its sophomore year.
The group started by traveling to the Sierra Foothills for an orientation session on climate change, then made a four-day excursion to visit high-elevation forest and chaparral sites like the High Sierra Campground. The students then traveled to Monterey, California, to spend four days volunteering there at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, working on their own project on climate change.
Then, this year, they traveled to Washington, D.C., with the support of the American Association of Museums, the National Park Service, and other agencies, where they collaborated with a group of students studying climate change and energy policy.
Their first collaboration with the American Association of Museums was to assist in planning and hosting a two-day workshop entitled “The Public Art of Climate Change: What Can Artists Do?”
The students from Dartmouth collaborated with the students from George Washington University and the Smithsonian Center for Climate Change. They met for two days in the spring of 2014 with the Washington chapter of the American Association of Museums, then attended a two-day retreat that included the Climate Action project as a key theme. After the retreat, the young people planned their work for the first semester and started traveling to high-elevation forest and chaparral sites, making maps of the sites and learning more about current habitat conditions and vegetation.
Climate Action is a broad-based organization, open to all students who share a common set of values, who are interested in environmental issues and are interested in preserving and protecting native environments.
Climate Action is focused on a few key issues: restoring the