Energy & Climate Change Leadership Stories

Politics, capitalism, and energy poverty are combining in strange ways across India. The result looks like progress—sometimes.Read more >
Earlier this spring, COMPASS led a policy communications training for the Switzer Fellows in Washington, D.C. that included practicing communication skills and learning about the world of policymakers, and was capped by meetings with policymakers on Capitol Hill. Marissa McMahan, a graduate student at Northeastern University who is studying the northern range expansion of black sea bass and how that affects both human and ecological systems in the Gulf of Maine, talks more about her experience in D.C.Read more >
Dipti Vaghela is passionate about micro hydro. Vaghela’s organization, the Hydropower Empowerment Network, takes a country-by-country approach to rural electrification, helping micro hydro and other technologies take root in places where electricity is expensive and hard – or even impossible – to come by. Her goal? To bring electricity in a sustainable and participatory way to places that need it.Read more >
Fellow Daniel Swain's research focuses on the causes of persistent patterns in the atmosphere—like the ones that cause drought or exceptional rain in California—and how climate change might be affecting them. In his spare time, the 25-year-old Marin native runs the California Weather Blog (weatherwest.com), a must-read for weather nerds where he comments on statewide weather patterns and their big-picture causes. He’s also the one who gave the name “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” to the pattern that’s being blamed for our three years of drought.Read more >
What started as an offhand remark by Lara Hansen (1995) to a funder, about how to use some leftover money from a grant, has become the largest national conference on adaptation to climate change. Actually, it is the only national conference on the topic, which is surprising given adaptation’s importance to humans in coming decades and centuries.Read more >
Climate change adaptation “isn’t something government is going to be able to solve alone,” says Amber Pairis. “We need to engage people in this conversation in a meaningful way. The rubber really meets the road on the ground in your community,” she adds. “And that is where change will happen”.Read more >
Brad Keitt (1997) has already been working to prevent extinctions caused by non-native species introduced to islands for decades. His non-profit, Island Conservation, prevents extinctions of native species by removing invasive species from islands. But the challenge of climate change has Keitt rethinking how his organization plans its projects and communicates about them.Read more >
Brenda Zollitsch (2009), whose work as a policy analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) is partially funded by a Switzer Leadership Grant, says one underappreciated challenge in addressing wetland loss is a chasm between the management of these issues between programs.Read more >
We have a number of Fellows leading in Sonoma County, working to understand the impacts of climate change at a micro level and develop solutions to improve local resiliency to climate change impacts that could be rolled out nationally.Read more >
Doug Johnson sees the increasingly severe drought in California as a chance to educate people about the importance of invasive plant management at the landscape level in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Sierras are an important source of water for all of California, with snowpack formed in winter melting over the spring and summer months and running down to the dry parts of the state. Invasives, some of which are known to be water hungry compared to competing vegetation, can reduce the capacity of Sierra meadows to perform this valuable function. For the state’s residents and agricultural industry, this could make a bad problem worse.Read more >

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