Ann Arbor CCL was excited to host a presentation by visiting climate activists Shahir Masri, a University of California-Irvine air pollution scientist and author, and Athina Simolaris, a teacher. A year ago, Shahir and Athina decided they would pause their careers for one year (forgoing both pay and career growth) to dedicate themselves to climate advocacy. On August 1, they departed California on an 11-week outreach tour across 35 states. Along the way, they are giving presentations about climate change and solutions, collecting data on the different ways people are experiencing climate change impacts, and inspiring others to take action.
Athina and Shahir gave an engaging presentation to an audience of about 25 at the Nature Cove Community Room during their stop in Ann Arbor. Shahir shared with us an inspiring journal entry, written during the 2017 CCL Conference in DC, explaining how he came upon the idea for the tour:
I came to DC prepared to tell my CCL chapter leader that I just cannot lead the local climate resolution team. I’m just too overwhelmed with work. Walking to the conference, preparing to talk to my chapter leader. Then it hit me… What am I doing? Climate change is the issue of our time, perhaps the species! And I’m too busy? . . . Suddenly the distortion of my priorities shined like a light. THIS is my calling. THIS is important, and what I must prioritize. What better reason to pursue your passion than “the world depends such pursuit.” The other things can wait. I am going to complete my remaining 1-year of post doc research and then take the year off. . . I want to visit climate afflicted regions, blog, and write about it. . . . I want to give myself completely to this important cause.
In addition to presenting clear and sobering facts on climate science, Athina and Shahir engaged the audience in a conversation about the climate change impacts we have observed here in Ann Arbor, and the actions we can take to effect change — making personal changes to reduce our own carbon footprint as well as working to enact policies at the local, state and national level. Audience members each wrote down one action they are currently taking to lessen their fossil fuel use. All of the ideas were displayed for everyone to see, and then attendees were encouraged to adopt another action from someone else.
The event concluded with a book signing of Shahir’s newly published book, Beyond Debate: Answers to 50 Misconceptions on Climate Change, the sales of which are helping to fund Shahir & Athina’s Climate Action Tour.
Thanks Shahir and Athina for your dedication and commitment to leaving the world a better place!