Pairis receives community hero award for work with Climate Science Alliance
Dr. Amber Pairis, who likes to say her “superpower” is bringing people together, has been selected as a KPBS and National Conflict Resolution Center Community Hero for her collaborative, community-centered approach to climate change.
Pairis founded and directs the Climate Science Alliance, an organization that strives to safeguard communities by increasing awareness of climate change impacts by promoting solutions and action, according to its website. Pairis said she prefers hope to “doom and gloom.”
“I’ve spent just enough time with climate scientists to be terrified of our future, but I can’t live in that place of fear,” she said. “This is a sustained and long-term issue that we have to deal with and we have to start making headway now.”
Pairis has worked in the climate change field for 15 years. Former Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her assistant secretary for climate change at the California Natural Resources Agency in 2013. She formed the Climate Science Alliance in 2015.
“In creating the Climate Science Alliance, I wanted to bring together researchers with natural resource managers, with nongovernmental organizations, with foundations, with artists, and with educators,” she said. “I wanted to create a space where people could come together and look at how we build resilience on a regional scale.”
"Youth bring their voices to climate change conversation", The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 26, 2020
The Community Heroes event drew community members of all ages, including a group of students from Crawford High School. The interview with Pairis was followed by facilitated round-table discussions where participants talked about what they’re doing — or plan to do — to address our changing climate. The next day, Crawford teacher Brenda Young asked her students to write a reflection on the experience.
Phoebe said, “As a high school student, being engaged with climate change was something I hadn’t considered. But spreading hope and knowledge makes a difference. I enjoyed learning about what we can do to help: riding public transportation, recycling and using less electricity.”
Irena said, “Going to the event has helped me become more aware of the climate change situation. Even though I think the event’s main purpose was to educate the younger generation, the number of (retired) people invited shows that there are older people still trying to learn.”
Tommy said, “Growing up, I didn’t anticipate that climate change would have a great impact in the community and world we live in today. Amber’s remarks affected me a lot, causing me to think about the humans who pollute our planet and just trash it as if this world means nothing to them. Amber also mentioned solutions. We millennials are the best generation to abide by them and to come up with more.”