Climate Optimist Workshop with Special Guest, Anne Therese Gennari.

The Climate Optimist

Lara Murray-Sterzel, Staff Writer |

On Wednesday, March 1, the Environmental Science Club held a Climate Optimist Workshop with guest speaker Anne Therese Gennari. Gennari is the author of the recently released book, Climate Optimist Handbook. She came to speak about climate change and encourage students to act. This event was made possible through the support of the College Senate Committee, SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association, the Environmental Science Club, the Activities Council, and the Office of Sustainability. 

Gennari stated the ongoing crisis has been her passion for a long time, and she’s worried about what the future could hold if we’re not careful. She’s looking to help people play a more active and positive role. Gennari discussed how we’ve reached a tipping point in the climate from all the built-up fossil fuels and deforestation over the years. She called it scary because we can’t be precise in our predictions. 

An example Gennari used to describe what this tipping point looks like is through examining the Arctic. Due to our atmosphere being warmed by fossil fuels, the Arctic’s ice has begun to melt. This creates a problem for the ocean and mainland, causing floods and the destruction of homes. Another example Gennari used was the dangers in the Amazon. The Amazon Forest not only habitats a variety of endangered species, but provides enough carbon dioxide for the earth. If deforestation continues there, we’ll lose our fresh air and moisture to produce rain.   

By losing our natural resources, we are putting our planet and ourselves at risk. Predictions were made that the weather patterns are being changed because of recent events. Gennari shared a psychological study that was conducted showing people gaining knowledge of the climate crisis, but reacting mildly. A strong imbalance activates immediate positive or negative reactions. 

To prove her point, Gennari brought up a picture of a tiger on the room’s screen. She asked the audience if they would walk up to it if they could. Most of the room declined. Gennari explained that people come up with many different scenarios and conclusions as to what’s going to happen to them. Most people would run or scream because it’s a dangerous animal, but Gennari said the other option is to freeze. She said that if you get too overwhelmed or scared your actions reflect it. This plays into the climate crisis. People are either in denial or feel responsible for the current problem. Which concludes with the negative immediate reaction of defeat. 

Ultimately, Gennari brought awareness to climate change and a clear understanding of our conscience, and helped the audience realize nature is always growing, and we can learn from it.  

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