A dwindling snowpack, increased drought and heat, and inequitable access to resources like safe drinking water are just a few examples of the social and environmental impacts of climate change on our community. As the urgency of addressing climate change has become increasingly widespread and apparent, community organizations have been seeking ways to engage, educate, and inspire local-to-global action. The Walking Mountains Climate Speaker Series does exactly that, bringing in leading experts from a variety of backgrounds to explore the creative solutions needed to address humanity’s most pressing problem - climate change.
The inspiration behind the Climate Speaker Series originated from a recognition of the critical role that education and awareness play in fostering environmental stewardship. This series brings together experts, thought leaders, and the community to share insights, strategies, and solutions.The annual series hosts one distinguished speaker per month from January to March.
The series kicked off on Thursday, January 11th at Walking Mountains with a presentation from Beatriz Oliva Soto Ruvalcaba, the Director of the Protégete program at Conservation Colorado. Beatriz has dedicated the past two decades of her work to the intersection of community building, social justice, and climate stability, and has received impressive accolades for her contributions to the environmental justice field. You can read more about Beatriz’s admirable background on the Climate Speaker Series registration webpage.
Protégete describes itself as an initiative of Conservation Colorado dedicated to building Latine environmental leadership and power to help drive climate, land, water, and environmental justice policy forward. Protégete is fighting to make Colorado a national leader in climate action, conservation and environmental justice. The Colorado Latino Climate Justice Policy Handbook, a first-of-its-kind resource, was the focus of Beatriz’s Climate Speaker Series discussion. We learned from the work of Beatriz and her program that the following environmental injustices exist here in Colorado: 58% of oil and gas wells are in high latino counties, 45% of latinos experience energy insecurity, and 88% of water quality violations were in high latino counties.
These statistics are merely a fraction of the research produced for the Colorado Latino Climate Justice Policy Handbook, but provide critical insights into the climate equity issues faced across the state. When asked what Eagle County residents can do to effect change, Beatriz shared that this work must start with education, relationship building, and advocating for Latino representation on decision making boards.
On Thursday, February 15th, Shannon Kelly Donahue will join us to speak at Walking Mountains about living with bears in a changing climate. Shannon is the Executive Director of the Great Bear Foundation, a nonprofit bear conservation organization with offices in Haines, Alaska and Missoula, Montana. Shannon has worked in bear conservation since 2006, focusing on community solutions to sharing habitat with bears, reducing the impacts of wildlife tourism, and grassroots advocacy to conserve bears and their habitats. Our community members are no stranger to sharing habitat with wildlife! We look forward to learning how to be better cohabitants with Shannon in February.
Our third and final Climate Speaker Series presenter, Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj Pena, will join us on Thursday, March 14th at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. Ulyana is the Head of Science Communication at the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, University of Colorado Boulder. Ulyana is a geologist, glaciologist, and climate change expert with extensive experience in science communication. Her discussion is entitled Pollution in Pristine Places.
We hope you’ll join us for the next two Climate Speaker Series presentations and participate in learning and sharing dialogue about climate change with our community. Presentations are recorded and can always be referred back to on the event webpage.
Gina McCrackin is the Climate Action Collaborative Manager at Walking Mountains Science Center. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.