As we finish a winter that has been disturbingly spring-like in the Bay Area, a recent comment by the prolific environmental writer Wendell Berry has been rolling around the back of my mind: “If we do the right things today, we’ll have done all we really can for tomorrow… So I hope to do the right things today,” he told a New Yorker reporter for a profile published in February.
I read those words during the same week that a new report methodically laid out details on destruction around the globe already caused by climate change and how much worse the destruction will in all likelihood become within decades. California’s wildfires and drought—our lives—were cited as nascent examples by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. “With fact upon fact, the report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said on release of the report. “Every fraction of a degree matters. Every voice can make a difference. And every second counts.”
The overwhelming enormity and devastation of climate change compared to the smallness of individual efforts is inescapable. It can feel hopeless. But past that, there’s potency in Berry’s view that “if we do the right things today, we’ll have done all we really can for tomorrow.”
The Bay Area is bursting with people doing the right things today.
Four of them are celebrated in this issue of Bay Nature, people who have conserved open space that sequesters carbon, are restoring watersheds that wildlife depend upon, and are expanding the diversity of people connecting with nature. The Bay Nature board and staff read through many dozens of nominations of remarkable individuals who work with meaningful organizations. It’s humbling to choose a few Local Heroes to hold up as gems among an embarrassment of riches.
Also in this issue: news of a fire revolution that’s beginning in California, where neighbors are learning to safely burn landscapes to prevent catastrophic wildfire; a Southern Pomo–Coast Miwok woman’s perspective on the decline of abalone in California and hopeful collaboration with marine scientists to reintroduce white abalone; the changes one environmental art venue has made to welcome more diverse artists to its gallery.
These people and organizations are restoring the environment and communities despite all the odds. None alone will prevent the world’s temperature from rising, but together along with many, many others, we’ll have done all we really can.
What right things will you do today?