By Lisa Howard
October 28, 2019
Muir Institute fellows and researchers presented the One Climate Initiative to a packed room at the Big Ideas Symposium at UC Davis on October 18. The half-day event at the Conference Center was a chance for the campus community and the public to learn about the many forward-looking “Big Ideas” being promoted by the university.
The One Climate Initiative, championed by Muir Institute Director Ben Houlton, provides a blueprint to catalyze UC Davis faculty — and affiliated partners — to strategically tackle climate change, the truly defining challenge of the 21stCentury. “We can harness the ‘DNA’ of UC Davis to be a problem solver,” said Houlton, noting that more than 500 faculty are affiliated with environmental issues.
Approximately 500 students, faculty and staff contributed to the design of One Climate Initiative through two large-scale campus meetings and an active steering committee.
In addition to Houlton, the panel included: Ayako Yasuda, a professor of finance in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and an expert in impact investing, climate finance and socially responsible investment; Melinda Adams, a Ph.D. student in Native American Studies and experienced collaborator in ecological research with Native American Tribes; Helene Margolis, an associate adjunct professor in the UC Davis School of Medicine and an expert in human health and climate interactions; and Eric Post, a professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and an expert in the ecological consequences of climate change and the impact of climate change on wildlife.
Houlton made the point that the effects of climate change are already being felt at UC Davis, illustrated by the campus closure in 2018 due to smoke from the Paradise Fire. At the time, Sacramento had the worst air pollution on the planet despite being more than 100 miles from the fire.
“Climate change has entered our living rooms,” said Houlton. “We have dangerously affected our climate. But we can solve this problem if we innovate now.”