New Book Meets Live Green! at the crossroads of climate change | News






Iowa State Live Green! The initiative embraces the intersectionality of climate change by providing students, faculty, and staff with opportunities for environmental, economic, and social sustainability.



A PhD student from Iowa State has co-authored a new book that discusses intersectionality and the holistic approaches needed to address the global climate crisis.

Fifth-year doctoral student Andreas Miles-Novelo is co-author of the book Climate Change and Human Behaviour: Impacts of Rapid Climate Change on Human Aggression and Violence with psychology professor Dr. Craig A. Anderson.

Part of Miles-Novelo’s research focuses on the human body’s physiological response to heat and how these changes affect human behavior. Several studies have proven that increased heat leads to an increase in aggressive behavior.

“And because you’re devoting all of these resources to trying to cool your body and trying to regulate yourself, you’re doing [a poor] work evaluating your emotions, and your behaviors become more reactive,” Miles-Novelo said.

Understanding the body’s response to heat can give researchers insight into how people might react to extreme weather caused by climate change.

Miles-Novelo’s research goes beyond hard facts by examining how the media influences people’s attitudes towards climate change. It specifically examines internal and external groups that reflect political, economic and social systems that harbor inequalities.

Climate change is often viewed from an infrastructure perspective. Initiatives for better water quality, waste management solutions, design to avoid traffic jams, etc. However, Miles-Novelo studies climate change from a sociological perspective.

“We constantly think about our environment or our social settings and how that influences our behavior, how we think and how we feel,” Miles-Novelo said. “And so [my advisor] really started to think about climate change in that kind of aspect.”

Miles-Novelo’s research opens a dialogue on a holistic approach to climate change, emphasizing intersectionality.

In his book, Miles-Novelo not only emphasized the importance of step change, such as reducing emissions, but also the need for humane and fair treatment of all people in policy changes.

“That’s why in particular, in our book, we talk a lot about the Green New Deal as a set of policy ideas, because he tries to think about these things holistically,” Miles-Novelo said.

For example, Miles-Novelo uses New Orleans as an example in the book when talking about the intersection of social behavior and infrastructure.

“If a levee breaks in New Orleans during the hurricane, which neighborhood gets flooded? said Miles-Novelo. “It’s the neighborhood right next to the seawall that tends to be a poor neighborhood, a more racially diverse neighborhood.”

As Miles-Novelo prepares to defend his thesis this summer, he recognizes that his research is far from over. The levels of complexity of the intersectional approach to climate change require a nuanced understanding. Miles-Novelo hopes her book will help others grasp this understanding and encourage them to engage in conversation.

“This is going to require a coordinated global effort, especially if [we] want to, you know, save our species from extinction,” Miles-Novelo said.

However, not everyone who empathizes with climate change is interested in reading a research-based book.

“The most important part of moving forward toward a sustainable future is identifying what resonates with you and making that commitment yourself,” said Merry Rankin, director of sustainability for Iowa State.

Rankin and Miles-Novelo can agree that sustainability is a lifetime commitment because the effects are intersectional; environmental, economic and social.

Long live the green! offers many sustainability opportunities, the Iowa State Sustainability Initiative and Rankin’s main line of work. Rankin is also working with the town of Ames, which is working on a climate action plan in which students can participate.

“I really don’t want sustainability to be kind of what we did at Iowa State or what we did in college,” Rankin said.

Living Green! was launched 14 years ago and has since made substantial progress in reducing the state of Iowa’s emissions, switching to renewable energy sources and reducing waste from landfills.

“There’s a kind of benchmark that we measure ourselves against, that we’re measured against in relation to our commitment to sustainability, and that’s the international certification called STARS“, Rankin said. “And I’m so excited that we were able to achieve a Gold Certified for three consecutive certification periods.”

Long live the green! has not only made substantial progress in operational objectives, but has also improved social awareness of the issue through events such as Sustainapalooza and Earth Day, social media presence, sustainability courses and career opportunities. Among the many social advancements are events such as Sustainapalooza, a website, newsletter, increased social media presence, educational campaigns, and alternative spring break options.

The goal of Live Green! The initiative is to increase awareness of environmental, economic, and social sustainability among students, faculty, and staff through education, engagement, and empowerment.

“We hope everyone is equally empowered to find their connection to sustainability in their own lives, in their own opportunities, and within the limits of their own resources that they might have,” Rankin said.

Living Green! The team understands that people have different interests, so they emphasize the importance of personalized sustainability. Their top priority is to make sustainability accessible and understandable.

“There’s a lot going on,” said Valentine Chenus, campus and community engagement intern for Live Green!. “So I think that might seem like a really heavy burden to take on, like living sustainably and trying to help fight climate change. And so we really want to help students feel educated and empowered to go out and to live sustainably.”

One way to learn and empower yourself is to join a environmental, economic or social sustainability club.

Ashley Kleve, another campus and community engagement intern for Live Green!, agreed and shared several ways to get involved with high and low engagement.

“So just showing up at our events and learning from our social media presence is another way,” Kleve said. “And there’s also the sustainability minor, and lots and lots of different courses related to sustainability.”

Long live the green! has many upcoming events including earth day in April (updates to come on the site). Chenus and Kleve are in charge of the Earth Month calendar, which lists several events on campus and surrounding communities related to sustainability. The calendar already has 50 pages.

If out-of-school commitments are too much, consider sustainability-related courses listed on Live Green! directory website.

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