PKG Fellowships 2020: Einat Gavish Part III

Read Part I of Einat’s experience here!

Click here to read Part II of Einat’s experience!

Impact: A Story of Complexity

I’ve spent much of the last two months thinking about impact: poring over research on the impacts of various environmental actions, creating models for estimating impact, considering the impact of various design choices, and more. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that impact is incredibly complex. In climate change, it is those who suffer the least from climate change, like those in Western countries, whose actions can have the most impact. On the flip side, those whose lives are uprooted by a rapidly warming planet often have little opportunity to reduce emissions. It is a cruel example of how power—who has it and who feels the effects of not having it—exists in our current world. 

Along those lines, users of our tool are changing their behavior with little direct, immediate impact on their own lives, but if enough people take individual action, then they can have a large positive impact on the world by lowering carbon emissions. If 1000 people use this tool to reduce their direct emissions by half, then they will prevent 8000 tons of CO2 from being emitted. 

Throughout the project, however, I’ve learned that the impact of our indirect choices, like politics, and our ability to engage others are some of the more powerful ways to reduce emissions. For instance, if 1000 people become very politically involved, it could swing an election, which would have a much larger effect. This makes it hard to measure the long-term impact of the tool; it depends on how many people use the tool, which solutions they implement, and how successful the actions are. 

While these uncertainties may seem daunting, I’ve learned, through research and conversation, that they are exactly why the project is important. There is so much—perhaps unmeasurable—upside if everybody decides to take actions (of all sorts) to fight climate change, reduce their direct emissions, and use their voice to make protecting the planet a priority. The result may be a better and more equitable future, especially for those who currently feel the effects of a warming planet the most. 

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Tags: Climate Change, Environment, PKG Fellowships, PKG Fellowships Summer 2020

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