The vast majority of Dane County residents understand that climate change is happening. So what does it take to move folks to action?
Local Girl Scouts are hoping that they can spur action by showcasing an issue we do not talk about a lot, the carbon embedded in our buildings.
Local Girl Scouts of Wisconsin – Badgerland Council’s Girl Scout Troops 1477 & 1952 have created a charming video Concrete Climate Ideas: Girl Scouts Talk Building Materials and Embodied Carbon. In the video the girls explain how they became interested in embedded carbon, the environmental impacts of high-emission concrete and the alternatives available. They also identify tangible things all of us can do to reduce carbon in building materials.
The video is awesome. Not only is the information solid (they even include a list of references if you want to learn more), but they make issues easy to understand. For example, they compare thinking about the ingredients in building materials to thinking about the ingredients of items in your shopping cart. The combination of animation and Girl Scouts (in uniform) explaining the issues is both adorable and compelling. See for yourself below.
I learned about the video from the Troop 1477 and 1954 troop leader. Julia reached out to me for help connecting the Girl Scouts to decision makers—because these girls want their video seen and action taken. Naturally I was delighted to connect the girls to various stakeholders I know AND I also offered to write a blog about their video—as a way to share the content more broadly.
The girls’ effort is impressive. They met virtually, twice a month for about 4 months to research the issue and develop the video. And, now that the video is complete, they are eager to pursue ways to share this information with the building community, with local government leaders and with the public at large.
More, the issue they raise is an important one. In addition to reducing emissions from the operations of our buildings and transportation systems, we should be doing all we can do reduce the amount of carbon created in producing infrastructure. Getting to zero emissions means addressing everything.
The girls’ enthusiasm for action comes through clearly in the video. After months of learning about embodied carbon, they are eager to see adults take action. When I met with a few of these girls recently one of them asked me if their advocacy would create change. Such a big question! These are smart kids so I was honest with them. I acknowledged that change is hard and often slower than we would like, I gave them kudos for the various ways they supported change in the video--they did all the right things to make change easier and more compelling. And I told them that I was confident that their efforts would influence the people who saw it--because I cannot imagine anyone listening to these bright girls talk about solutions and not be affected.
The key, then, is expanding distribution of the video—so that more people see it.
Here, of course, is where I need your help. Watch the video. Share it with your friends. Think about what the Girl Scouts are asking us to do and do your part. Together we can be the adults these Girl Scouts deserve.
We can do this, Dane County.
Kathy is the Director of the Dane County’s Office of Energy and Climate Change. In that role she's leading efforts to implement the Climate Action Plan. Prior to coming to Dane County, Kathy led Cool Choices and, prior to that, she led Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program.
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