As I arrived home late on October 23rd, I had no idea that the place where I grew up would never look the same again. In less than thirty minutes, I received a text that a fire had started near my family’s ranch and was quickly spreading. With no time to grab any personal belongings, I ran to wake my mother from her house, where we proceeded to evacuate. I watched from a distance in my car as the Kincade fire roared to life, taking my home with it. I am very thankful that my family and I are safe. But many others in Sonoma and in the state of California can't say the same.
The Kincade Fire has destroyed over 75,000 acres. Further south, the legendary Santa Ana winds fueled two other massive flares, the Getty and Easy Fires, both in densely populated areas. In at least two of these cases, power lines along arid terrain are involved in igniting the fires, aided by a growing trend in California’s weather: Hurricane-force winds, low humidity, and little precipitation. The loss of my home is both tragic and ironic, for it was the 2017 Pocket and Tubbs fires that inspired me to start a climate solutions-focused organization that strives to expand this movement, build synergies, and unite environmental efforts on both sides of the aisle. Now, I am more motivated than ever.
The climate crisis is not solely relegated to the borders of California. Many other disasters like these are happening around the world every day. A number of very distant geographic locations are canaries in the coal mine for climate, yet how many more disaster cycles will it take until we have a mass mobilization on what is the most existential threat our species has ever faced? The rapidly changing climate is ravaging the ecosystem in the Amazon; it's melting Arctic ice at an unprecedented rate; it's warming and eliminating our ocean biodiversity and coming soon to your backyard, if it’s not there already. You can consider these various ecosystems like the foundation of a building, a building we live in.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, a global scientific powerhouse, shared a report with the United Nations urging humanity to halve global emissions by 2030 in order to avoid catastrophic climate fallout. The report gave us a choice; we can continue to be reactive and adapt in small and insufficient ways, or we can be sweepingly proactive and turn a dire situation into an opportunity for innovation, global stability, and growth. While there are many vital solutions, here are some powerful changes we can make right now:
- First, leave fossil fuels in the ground. We are fooling ourselves if we think we’re going to solve this crisis while we’re still burning fossil fuels. This single collective decision would drive the development of, and clear the way for climate solutions to take root. Second, scale regenerative agriculture, which nourishes the land that nourishes us.
- Regenerative agriculture is one of the most significant ways that we can engage to reverse the climate crisis because even if we stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, we have to take some out: the levels are already significantly past what scientists say is safe, which is why ecosystems are crashing. There are ways to draw down that carbon from the atmosphere. Regenerative agriculture is an effective, scalable and economic way to achieve this. If embraced to its fullest potential, regenerative agriculture can draw down roughly one trillion tons of carbon; more than humans have already put into the atmosphere. In addition, these practices would increase the quality of our products, long-term profits, as well as our world’s health.
- Finally, let’s think bigger and innovate faster. Innovations in science and technology are key, but the biggest innovation that our society needs is social. We need to look past our most immediate needs and accept that this is a global crisis facing humanity. That is the only way that we will solve this problem. Currently, we are living in a moment of pseudo-optimism; as though there is one yet-to-be identified technological solution that will suddenly reverse the impacts of the climate crisis. There is no silver bullet, but we do have real and tangible solutions in existence today. We must work together across industries and specialties to deploy those solutions and create real change.
The Earth is crying out for our help, and the gravity of the crisis is often paralyzing, which makes us prone to ignoring the issue. This is why I have focused on building a mass movement around climate solutions. We are behind the curve and need to support existing solutions, moonshots, and, most obviously, preserving our natural world if we want a livable planet. This is a living, breathing problem that's impacting us, our families, our friends, our neighbors, but more importantly, we are robbing our entire species of a healthy home.I lost my home; I don’t want us to lose ours.
Julia Jackson is the founder of Grounded, a climate-solutions organization that gathers world leaders, legislators, activists, businesses, and scientists with the shared goal of accelerating the most substantive opportunities for a regenerative planet. She is also a second-generation proprietor of Jackson Family Wines.