Photo: Sara Lafleur-Vetter, Standing Rock Reservation
It’s giving season and folks have been asking, “How and to whom do I donate to fight climate change?” This is a complex question because where you decide to give is unique to your understanding of why problems exist and your vision for the future. As someone who has studied and worked in the realms of climate science, policy, and advocacy, I’m choosing to share my perspective on what powerful climate-focused giving looks like.
The reality is that climate change is global is scope, but unequal in impact. The communities who are and will be disproportionately impacted by climate change are those who don’t have the resources to easily adapt: indigenous, low-income black and brown, female, and people whose incomes are directly dependent on the land and sea, like small-scale farmers. Climate change amplifies all of our existing social ills, such as poverty, homelessness, and health disparities, and strains already stretched government resources, particularly in rural areas.
If you are interested in using your resources to tackle climate change, I believe that the most powerful approach is to support the organizations that are building the cultural and political power of the communities who are and will be most impacted by it.
Investing resources in the communities most impacted is not just about mitigating damages — it is also a vital way to create climate solutions that work. In countless cases, the people most affected by a problem are also those most able to solve them. Particularly for climate change, top-down policy to reduce emissions will only get us so far. We are locked into enormous environmental changes — storms, wildfires, drought, sea level rise, heat waves — that will require diversified and creative adaptatio