Take it from Climate Rider Erin Boyle–the research shows climate change isn’t worth gambling on. With a year of research in atmospheric chemistry during her Ph.D., Erin understands the challenges we face from climate change. Though her career path wound up branching away from environmental science, she still finds ways to contribute to the cause outside of work.
Climate change could be even worse than what we can predict
Erin’s time conducting research and studying climate change means she is up on some of the scarier predictions of what might be to come. According to the World Meteorological Organization, those predictions include mega-fires that will burn at four times the size of fires today by the year 2050 and increasingly devastating extreme weather. Extreme weather is already having an effect, making 2017 the most costly hurricane season to date.
What stuck with Erin most from her time studying atmospheric chemistry is how hard it is to predict some of the feedback loops climate change might set in motion. She describes the immediate warming arising from CO2 as pretty simple to predict but says “it is a much more complex question to know how that will interact with other systems like clouds, the biosphere, and the ocean. Maybe we'll get lucky and those systems will be fine, or maybe it will be even worse than models show.” Either way, she thinks we better “not roll those dice.”
Erin feels the impacts of climate change in the myriad subtle ways many of us have. There are the “weird California drought cycles, the strange warm winters some of the years I lived in the midwest, and then back home in Maryland the thing I think of is that we got different kinds of mosquitoes coming up from the south.” But she feels lucky to not suffer the most devastating impacts of climate change much herself. Not everyone is so lucky. In Somalia last year alone, nearly 900,000 people faced internal displacement in large part due to droughts that were exacerbated by climate change.
Our planet’s problems are intertwined
Erin wants everyone to remember that climate change isn't the only problem facing our planet. She emphasizes that the regulations that protect soil, water, and air quality, as well as biodiversity, are hugely important and shouldn't take a back seat to climate change.
That’s why she chose to join Climate Ride California and raise money for the San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) and Earthjustice, two organizations that take a holistic approach to working for the planet. In Erin’s words, SFBC is “an awesome organization that keeps me safe on my bike, is hugely instrumental in getting cars off of the road, and builds fun community while they're at it.” And she chose Earthjustice “because they are a powerful legal organization and the current administration feels like it needs litigation more than lobbying. I want courts to act on whatever protections we have already managed to get in place.”
Though the human impacts on the planet are devastatingly real, taking action shouldn’t be harrowing. Like many people mobilizing for the planet, Erin joined Climate Ride California North Coast because “it sounds like a blast!” She’s excited to participate “in a good cause with good people.” This will be her first Climate Ride, but she loves spending time exploring beautiful northern California from the saddle of her bike.
She’s looking forward to meeting the kinds of people who share her interests and who have also seriously committed to fundraising for beneficiaries they care about. Also now that she signed up, she is “pretty motivated to just make sure she can follow through and actually finish something this hard!” Like everyone who takes on a Climate Ride event, Erin took the hardest step when she decided to act for the planet. We know she’s going to crush it come May!