Interview with Erica Dodds
Healthy Climate Alliance
is an education, networking, and advocacy program of the Foundation for Climate Restoration with the goal of restoring the climate: giving future generations a healthy climate like our grandparents had. HCA serves as a bridge between the public, policy-makers, and technical and business experts.
Hi Erica! Could you please introduce the Healthy Climate Alliance and what led to your working with the initiative?
The Healthy Climate Alliance is an organization that's part of the Foundation for Climate restoration. We are focused on giving our children a safe and healthy climate like the one we had 100 hundred years ago. And we do that through Advocacy, Outreach, and networking. So we already have the technology we need to restore a safe and healthy climate. Now it's just a matter of doing it, and a lot of what that takes is awareness that that is a choice we can make. And advocacy getting policymakers to generate policy that's supportive of climate restoration and education letting our children know that this is something that they can have and should demand.
The help the Climate Alliance was started by my dad Peter Fikalski in 2015 and I became involved when I moved back to my hometown and needed a new job and a lot more important work could I possibly be doing. So what was supposed to be a three month trial turned into a full time gig that's taking over my life and a very good way.
What are some of the main benchmarks and milestones you've reached with the organization since you became its Executive Director?
Since I started with a Healthy Climate Alliance in the summer of 2017 we've made huge progress, for one thing when I mentioned climate restoration to people now, they've heard it before or it only takes them a few seconds to understand what it means.
When I started climate restoration was such a new idea that it took quite a bit of conversation for people to understand that this is a real feasible possible idea that we are already working on, it's not a pie in the sky concept.
So, in the meantime the last almost two years, our membership has tripled, we've had meetings with all kinds of politicians around the world, we've hosted our first climate restoration conference in Rome inspired by the pope's let out a secret encyclical on caring for our common home.
We hosted a panel at the global climate action summit in San Francisco, and we have had our first peer-reviewed article published by the RAND Corporation asking: is climate restoration an appropriate policy goal?, and, of course, the answer is yes, you should set a goal of the thing you're actually trying to achieve that makes it much more likely you'll get there, even if you miss you'll get closer than if you didn't have it as a goal in the first place.
What are some of the main impact measures that the Healthy Climate Alliance focuses on?
Our impact measures mostly fall under three categories social, political and educational.
Socially, we're looking at how much are people engaging with the idea of climate restoration. Have they heard of it? Is it showing up in the media? And to that end, we're doing really well, our membership has more than tripled over the last year and a half, mentions of climate restoration in the media have gone from, only when we put out a press release, to about three times a month, just organically.
Politically, we're looking at how much our politicians aware of our ability to restore the climate and how interested are they in participating, and we've gone from politicians saying that's very interesting, but clearly thinking that we're a little bit crazy, to really wanting to know how they can help, and to that end, Representative Jamie Raskin back in September introduced a resolution into Congress expressing the sense of Congress that we have an obligation to give our children a safe and healthy climate like we had 100 years ago.
And we're also beginning to work with individuals at the U.N. who want the U.N. to begin taking apart too. So hopefully we'll have updates there in the next year.
Educationally, we're interested in whether climate restoration is showing up in education. Do teachers know about it?. Are they telling their students? as it in the curriculum?. And we're actually pretty close to launching a partnership with a graduate school, that wants it students who are largely involved in environmental sustainability efforts to learn about and participate in climate restoration efforts.
So we're really excited to take that forward.
How does your research at Western Michigan University impact your work with Healthy Climate Alliance? How do these two spheres of your life intersect?
I spent a lot of time, since I started with a Healthy Climate Alliance, asking myself how I can better incorporate my research from Western Michigan University into my work, and it's been really interesting, so my graduate studies are in evaluation, and of course, evaluation ties into every field, every field needs to know whether what they're doing is actually what they intend to be doing, whether it's going as well as it should.
And with climate restoration, a lot of what we do is decide what are the projects that we want to promote, and how do we decide what is the most worth our collective time as a society, so my background and evaluation has been really useful in generating a rubric and criteria that can explain to others how we've made our decisions and can help us make thoughtful decisions about what are the most worthwhile projects to pursue if we want to restore the climate, and how do we express those values to people who have not yet been involved in this work.
What's next for your work with the Healthy Climate Alliance? What are the main projects, partnerships and networks you'll be focusing on in 2019?
In 2019 our main focus is on making climate restoration the basis of the U.N. Climate Summit in September. So in order for that to work, we need to spend a lot of time generating partnerships within the UN system, advancing the work that's going on right now and restoring the climate, generating more awareness about climate restoration as a concept, and generating political support including legislation that supports climate restoration, and then, of course, tying it all together with some fabulous events at the UN climate summit in 2019. It's gonna be a busy year.