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Alice Ma

Low Energy Enthusiasts

""What we do or don't do right now will affect my entire life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. What we do or don't do right now, me and my generation can't undo in the future." - Greta Thunberg "

Points Total

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  • 0 This Week
  • 391 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    pounds of CO2
    have been saved
  • up to
  • up to
    spent learning
  • up to
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill

Alice's Actions

Action Track: Building Resilience

Support Microgeneration in Low Income Countries

Small Hydropower, Micro Wind Turbines, Microgrids

I will make a donation to a nonprofit that installs microgeneration in low income countries.

One-Time Action


Stay on the Ground

Telepresence, High-Speed Rail

Instead of traveling by plane, I will find an alternative way to accomplish the goals of an upcoming trip (i.e. telepresence, vacation locally).

One-Time Action

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Smart Seafood Choices

Ocean Farming

I will visit or download the app and commit to making better seafood choices for a healthier ocean.

One-Time Action

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Learn about Local Indigenous Practices

Indigenous Peoples' Forest Tenure

I will spend at least 60 minutes learning how local indigenous tribes are caring for the land by participating in a training, workshop, or presentation.

One-Time Action


Reduce Single-Use Disposables


I will avoid buying and using 3 single-use plastics and instead replace them with durable options.


Health and Education

Fund Family Planning

Health and Education

I will donate to supply a community with reproductive health supplies.

One-Time Action

Land Sinks

Support a Community Garden

Multiple Solutions

I will support a community garden by volunteering, donating, or advocating for a new or existing one.

One-Time Action


Invite a friend to calculate the carbon footprint of their household

Individual actions are important, but people and organizations working together can make a real impact. I will share a carbon calculator with a friend and invite them to calculate the carbon footprint of their household.

One-Time Action


Calculate the carbon footprint of my household

I will calculate the carbon emissions associated with my household and consider how different lifestyle choices could reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment.

One-Time Action


  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Support Microgeneration in Low Income Countries
    How can micro energy solutions reduce inequities? Why is this important to you?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 6/02/2021 9:44 PM
    For this challenge, I decided to learn more about microgeneration. Prior to doing the research for this challenge, I’d actually never heard of microgeneration. According to my research, microgeneration is a small-scale generation of heat or electric power by individuals. It’s an alternative or additional supplement to the traditional grid-connected power sources that are typically used to power our lives. Specifically within microgeneration are a few main forms of green energy production: micro hydropower, microgrids, and micro wind turbines. 

    Microgrids take energy from sources like solar, wind, hydro, and biomass to create a storage and generator of electricity that can operate as an independent generator or be added into the larger, macrogrid of a city/state. Microgrids are not only a great way to lower the carbon emissions coming from nonrenewable energy sources, but also serve as a huge assistance to economic and human development. With 1.1 billion people across the globe not having access to a grid or electricity, microgrids are a great way to supply electricity to these communities and ensure that they have the same resources provided by a general energy grid. 

    Micro wind turbines have a capacity of 100 kilowatts or less and are often found standing alone in fields or on top of buildings to take advantage of wind power. These micro wind turbines can produce electricity with virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions and can bring electricity to lower-income countries that don’t have access to traditional energy grids. These microturbines can also be integrated into cities to help offset energy usage. For example, the Eiffel Tower has several vertical turbines that produce electricity for use on site! 

    Lastly is micro hydropower systems that take advantage of flowing water to generate electricity. Just a 10-kilowatt micro hydropower system could provide enough energy to power a large home or a small resort! All of these methods of microgeneration are not only amazing ways to produce electricity without contributing to higher greenhouse gas emissions, but they are also great ways to supply electricity to countries and communities that do not typically have access to it. While researching microgrids, I came across an organization called EarthSpark that is working to bring microgrids to Haiti, with ambitions of bringing reliable and high-quality electricity to over 80,000 people in the next four years. I really admire their mission statement and was able to donate to support their cause! I definitely recommend checking out EarthSpark and learning more about microgeneration and how it can help our climate and also development in low- and middle-income countries! 
  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Stay on the Ground
    What was your process like for restructuring your trip? How can you avoid more air travel in the future?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 6/02/2021 1:07 AM
    As travel restrictions lessen and COVID cases decline, my friends and I have been discussing a trip to Oregon because a close friend lives up there. Our original plan was to fly up to Oregon from our respective locations and then fly together down to UCLA before the start of fall quarter. However as we discussed the trip and solidified details and logistics, we realized that flying might not be the best idea. The main concern we had was the cost of the flights, but also we were well aware of the environmental consequences of flying. Now, our plan is to drive from the Bay Area to Oregon and then back to UCLA. It also happens to work out very well because one of my friends has been wanting to bring her car to UCLA but hasn’t quite figured out a good time to make the drive. I’m actually really looking forward to the drive because we will be stopping in two different locations to break up the 16 hours drive into three days total. I’m super excited to be spending that time with my friends and knowing that we chose to drive instead of fly is a comfort as well. 

    One thing that I’m hoping to do in the future is to avoid flying home from UCLA for breaks. After a lot of consideration, I’m going to be bringing my car with me to UCLA for this upcoming fall quarter. I was initially planning not to bring my car so that I wouldn’t be tempted to drive short distances that are walkable but after considering the distances I would need to travel on a daily basis to get to my work and research locations, I decided that it would be more beneficial to bring my car. Also having my car means I can drive home to the Bay Area instead of flying when it comes time to visit home. I’m lucky enough to live only a 5-6 hour drive from UCLA, which is definitely driveable in my opinion and the drive from NorCal to SoCal is one I’ve made many times in the past. Using an online carbon footprint calculator, I found that if I were to fly from LA to the Bay Area, the round trip would produce 0.14 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Comparatively, if I make the drive, the trip would produce only 0.09 metric tons of CO2 emissions. This doesn’t even take into account the other forms of pollutants that arise from flying, such as mono-nitrogen oxides and disrupting cirrus clouds with aerosols from fuel combustion. I personally love driving and I hope to be able to take advantage of that when it comes to domestic trips that I could make with a car instead of hopping on a plane in the future. 

    • Suraj Doshi's avatar
      Suraj Doshi 6/02/2021 8:38 AM
      Hi Alice, 

      It was really neat hearing about how you and your friends restructured a whole trip after recognizing the effects air travel could have on the environment. Flights are expensive as well and jet fuel is not cheap which is what some of the ticket price counts towards. I think a drive is therapeutic too and you have the freedom to make ample stops along the way to break up the trip into smaller segments. I also think that having your own car is super nice instead of renting just because you do not have to worry about the hassle of giving it back and being 25 and paying rental fees. Luckily I live close enough to UCLA where I do not necessarily need a car as I can take the bus back and forth. I have thought about bringing a car to get to places such as my work and my research positions but may instead bring my bike just to try and reduce my personal carbon emissions. I also think that a five-six hour drive is very doable every once in a while. Ideally you can avoid traffic and make the trip just so that the trip does not run long. The fact that you found the disparity between carbon emissions to be so great really shows how we could reduce our carbon footprints just by restricting some of our trips. Further, I think there is soemthig to be said about using public transport. I understand that right now, during a pandemic, public transport is not going to be the first alternative just for safety reasons. You never really can know what you will be dealing with when it comes to people on the bus. I think that as the pandemic dies down, public transport is something that should be revamped and more accessible so that we can reduce the number of vehicles on the road. I understand that bringing a car is super convenient, but then again, you have to worry about parking and gas anytime you do take it out. 

  • Reflection Question
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Smart Seafood Choices
    Many states and countries have advisories on eating fish. Find out what is advised for your region. Do you think your diet choices fall within these guidelines? What steps do you need to take to make sure that they do?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 6/02/2021 12:00 AM
    As someone who is allergic to most shellfish, the extent of seafood in my diet is pretty much just fish, shrimp, and an occasional sushi meal. When I went into doing research for this challenge, I was under the assumption that most of my seafood diet choices would be within the guidelines of my area and not be a huge environmental concern. As I explored the Seafood Watch guidelines for the West Coast, I realized that I actually have no idea where my seafood is sourced from. One thing I did find out was that the salmon I typically eat is not wild-caught, instead, it is farmed, which is on the list of forms of seafood to generally try to avoid. This was definitely a huge shock and something I hope to be able to change about my salmon consumption. 

    As I did more research into salmon, I found that salmon is actually a very important keystone species and an indicator species that can help to reflect the health of an ecosystem. In addition to that, in a previous EcoChallenge, I had learned that the indigenous practice of prescribed burning actually has an impact on salmon populations, which was really surprising and an interesting crossover to consider. As with many other types of wild-caught fish, the main principle to keep in mind is to prevent overfishing to ensure that the populations of fish that exist in the wild can be sustained over a long period of time. When all the organisms within a specific ecosystem are linked by food webs and interactions, it is so important to maintain those relationships and prevent disruptions by managing overfishing and ensuring that we don’t take too much from the oceans. 

    Despite avoiding most shellfish, I do absolutely love sushi, especially yellowfin tuna, or ahi. Unfortunately, according to the Seafood Watch Consumer Guide, yellowfin tuna is on the list of foods to avoid because of the overfishing that they have experienced and the harms that fishing them bring to other forms of marine life and the environment. It’s definitely a sad realization to have but knowing this, I will definitely be more aware of my seafood choices when it comes to eating out or buying fish to cook at home. However, one thing I did notice as well is that eating seafood sustainably is not easy and definitely not cheap to do. Seafood generally is also more expensive than other types of foods and the additional price of sustainability is added when we are trying to make good seafood choices. The challenges of making sustainable choices when it comes to the food we eat can be so overwhelming and I think it is a huge reason why corporations and government policies need to do better in providing affordable, accessible, and sustainable options. On my most recent grocery trip, I tried to keep an eye out for sustainable seafood options and found the one pictured below at Costco!

    • CHAISE PUCEK's avatar
      CHAISE PUCEK 6/02/2021 2:29 PM
      Hey Alice! I loved reading your research, and have had similar realizations in the past. Until my freshman year of college, I had been a pescatarian for over three years. I was so proud of myself and always thought I was doing a great job at lowering my carbon footprint and eating sustainably. I didn't really eat dairy, as I'm sensitive to lactose, so other than sushi, I was essentially vegan. I LOVE sushi, and I never thought I'd be able to give it up. My freshman year at UCLA, in LS7B, we were discussing our carbon footprints and talking a lot about animal agriculture. I was so shocked to discover what a negative impact fisheries had on the environment. I had seen all the documentaries, and none of them ever addressed over-fishing or fish farming. What the hell? It was very discouraging to learn about something that I feel is very important to be common knowledge. After that, I transitioned into being vegan. It was extremely hard to give up sushi, especially when my family loves it so much, but there are some good vegan options, and there are lots of fish alternatives that are becoming more popular. I encourage you to try some if that is available to you! 
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Reduce Single-Use Disposables
    What single-use items (e.g. straws, coffee cups, vegetable bags, plastic bags) do you regularly use? What could be substituted instead?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 6/01/2021 2:13 AM
    A huge motivator for me choosing this challenge was my experience at two of the climate action events I watched. I watched the lectures from Slow Factory’s Open Education curriculum about the history of plastics and the history of microplastics and was shocked by how huge of an issue plastic pollution is. Not only plastics, but the whole concept of recycling has also been corrupted by corporations. I found out through those lectures that the recycling symbol of the three arrows that we see on recycling cans and plastic containers does not actually mean recyclable. Instead, the number inside the symbol just designates what the plastic was made out of, and we really should not be recycling those products because if they are sent to recycling plants, they need to be sorted out and sent away which slows down the recycling process. Even more shocking was that microplastics are so common that humans ingest a credit card’s weight worth of plastic every week, which is approximately 5 grams. The ingested plastic comes from microplastics that are in just about everything we consume, from water to seafood to even the air we breathe. 

    I think a huge contributor to the abundance of single-use disposable plastic products is the convenience that has been advertised to us. I grew up in a world that was already heavily invested in single-use plastic but when I brought up the issue to my parents, they told me that when they were growing up in China, there was no such thing as single-use plastic, and the common ways in which we use them today were not seen back then. Instead, people used reusable alternatives like cloth bags to replace plastic ones, unpackaged produce that doesn’t require plastic, and even bringing personal glass bottles when buying liquids. It blew my mind that the “convenience” and familiarity of single-use plastic is really just something that corporations had produced to sell more plastic. 

    In keeping with the idea of sustainability, I invested in a few silicone and metal straws to use and even got a convenient little straw carrier so I can always have a silicone straw with me wherever I go. As COVID restrictions lighten up and restaurants and cafes start accepting reusable bottles again, I will definitely remember to bring my own tumbler for coffee or boba when I go out. Despite all the individual changes I am implementing, there are still so many large-scale changes that need to be made, especially at a policy and corporation level, so I signed this petition to fight plastic pollution, specifically in our oceans. Definitely check it out! A common theme that I’ve discovered while doing my EcoChallenges is the issue of human greed and selfishness that drives climate change. It makes me wonder if there are sociological or psychological ways that can reorient the mindset of people, groups, governments, corporations, etc to help combat the issue of climate change from a supplementary angle.

  • Reflection Question
    Food, Agriculture, and Land Use Learn about Local Indigenous Practices
    What did you learn about indigenous peoples' land management that you can apply in your own life?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 6/01/2021 1:28 AM
    For this challenge, I researched and learned about local indigenous practices. I wanted to pursue this challenge specifically because, throughout this quarter, I’ve been trying to learn more about the people whose unceded land we are currently occupying. A few months ago, I listened to an audiobook called As Long as Grass Grows by Dina Gilio-Whitaker that explored the history between indigenous people and the environmentalism movement, touching on the conflicts like Standing Rock, various national parks and reserves, and the exclusion of Indigenous peoples in the conservation and environmentalism movements until recent history. That book was an amazing read and I highly recommend it (it’s on Audible!) but it also puts a lot of U.S. history into perspective. Also, for one of my climate action events, I attended the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science Annual Lecture where former and present postdocs in the La Kretz conservation program spoke about their research. I had posed a question about how conservation and indigenous peoples and practices coincide and one of the postdocs spoke about his experiences working with the Chumash tribe in Los Angeles. He recommended the Wishtoyo Foundation as a resource and after doing some research specifically about that organization, I found it to be an amazing website to learn more about conservation and environmentalism in the context of indigenous communities and values. Also, the Wishtoyo Foundation has recreated a Chumash Village which is used as an educational site to teach visitors about the culture and history of the tribe. The village is closed currently due to COVID, but when it reopens, I will definitely add it to my list of places to visit in LA! 

    While doing additional research about local indigenous practices, I decided to explore the concept of controlled or prescribed burning, especially since wildfire season is quickly approaching us in California. Prior to doing this research, I had heard, in passing, about controlled burning but never knew much about it. Focusing specifically on Northern California (where I’m from), I learned about the Yurok and Karuk tribes who have used human-controlled fires as a way to “promote the growth of traditional food sources, like acorns, and basket-weaving materials, like hazel. The fires even support the life cycles of salmon.” Compared to the U.S. federal fire policy of fire suppression to protect water, timber, and communities, indigenous controlled burning uses low-intensity fires to clear brush and other flammable material to prevent destructive, uncontrolled wildfires. And despite all the advantages of using prescribed burning, federal laws have made these traditional burns illegal, even on public lands that indigenous peoples have treaty rights to use. Beyond the safety benefits of controlled burning, indigenous tribes depend on many of the traditional plant and animal cycles that can only occur after a prescribed burn. This means that the prohibition of these practices not only hurts the environment but also erases indigenous cultures and practices. Learning about these indigenous practices has made me reflect on my own actions as an individual residing on land that belongs to indigenous peoples. Below, I’ve attached an image of the book I mentioned earlier, definitely a great read and resource!

    • Suraj Doshi's avatar
      Suraj Doshi 6/01/2021 10:21 PM
      Hi Alice, 

      It was really interesting to read your response to this. I really liked how you tied in your previous experience and interaction with the topic as well as your climate action event. It is nice to see that you were extending your knowledge through the drawdown ecochallenges to pursue more information simply because you were passionate about them. I also took a quick glance at the Wishtoyo Foundation website and I think that their mission to protecting natural cultural resources is awesome. I think it could definitely be a neat weekend outing to visit the Chumash Village and learn more about the tribe and their culture. What I found really interesting in your response was the relationship between prescribed burnings and the lifecycles of salmon. Through the ecochallenges, I have learned that salmon are a keystone species but I never would have thought that prescribed burnings would have any affect on them, since fire and water are technically opposites. I am curious to know how that relationship exists and in what ways prescribed burnings are beneficial to the life cycles of salmon. I think that it is quite ridiculous that the prescribed burnings are now outlawed due to state law. I wonder what the reasoning is behind this, as the indigenous people must know what they are doing and thus were able to grow sustaining crops that let them occupy the land for so long. Learning that the prescribed burnings or lack thereof have chipped away at indigenous cultures and practices is horrible to see and I definitely think there needs to be policy changes fast. There is no reason why indigenous people should be subjugated to such rules so long as they are not harming the land or anybody. They are doing what they know works best and has worked for hundreds of years and stopping this practice is senseless.

  • Reflection Question
    Health and Education Fund Family Planning
    When family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting the expressed needs of women, it results in empowerment, equality, and well-being, and the benefits to the planet are side effects. Why is family planning an important civil rights consideration?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 5/25/2021 10:14 PM
    For this challenge, I chose to donate to UNFPA, the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency, to support their mission of making family planning more accessible to reduce maternal deaths and end violence against girls and women. In researching the topics of family planning, gender equity, and women empowerment, I came across the common theme of women and girls who are more educated will tend to have children later in life, and therefore fewer children. 
    According to Project Drawdown’s research, “225 million women in lower-income countries say they want the ability to choose whether and when to become pregnant but lack the necessary access to contraception.” This lack of access to contraception is a contributing factor to the rampant population growth we see today. With a larger population comes the challenges of ensuring that everyone can have access to necessary resources and the challenge of handling the waste and pollutants that arise from having those extra people. Reducing population growth means reducing the demand for resources like food, water, electricity, and more while also reducing the number of carbon emissions that are being produced. To me, this connection between climate change and gender equality is so overlooked. Empowering women and educating girls will quite literally save the human race from extinction in the face of climate change. Not to mention, the ability to have agency and choice in her own reproductive health and behavior should be a universal right, along with education. 

    Another thing that I think is also important to consider is the idea of choice. By educating women and empowering them to make their own family planning choices, we are giving them the freedom to choose to have more or fewer children. Research has shown that more educated women tend to have fewer children, but that doesn’t mean governments or policies should be limiting the number of children women can have. A lot of us may know about China’s One-Child Policy that recently ended in 2015 and the effects of it (in fact if it weren’t for my parents immigrating to the U.S., I wouldn’t be able to be born because my parents had already fulfilled the one-child quota with my older sister who was born in China). I think it is not only important to ensure that women can have access to education, but also to ensure that limiting population growth does not become exploited by governments and policies. Something I am curious about exploring further about this topic is what can institutions like UCLA do to help this cause? Are there steps that universities can be taking to help women and girls in other countries have more access to education? 

  • Reflection Question
    Land Sinks Support a Community Garden
    What are the multiple benefits of community gardens, including carbon sequestration? Why do these benefits matter to you?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 5/20/2021 11:16 PM
    For this challenge, I chose to research and donate to a local community garden. I actually had no idea there was even a community garden in my city until I did some searching and I came across LEAF (Local Ecology & Agriculture Fremont) which is a nonprofit organization in my city that is seeking to “take positive climate action by educating our community to live sustainably, grow healthy food, and reduce waste.” I absolutely love their mission statement and the work that they do for the community. I made a monetary donation and I also found out that they are enrolled in AmazonSmile, an initiative by Amazon where for every eligible purchase you make on Amazon, your chosen charity or organization can receive 0.5% of the price. I highly recommend checking out AmazonSmile and seeing if there are any of your favorite organizations enrolled with them, especially if you are a frequent Amazon shopper (I definitely am but I’m also trying really hard to move away from using Amazon because of how wasteful their packaging is and how environmentally damaging shipping processes can be). 

    As I did more research into community gardens, land sinks, and carbon sequestration, I was shocked to find that plain soil, even without any plants or trees, can help to remove considerable amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with one study finding that “one hectare of urban soil can sequester up to 85 tonnes of atmospheric carbon per year.” It’s crazy to think that the abandoned lots and fields of dirt could be turned into such productive carbon sequestration centers just with a few changes. Not to mention the number of green spaces in cities that already exist and could be made even more productive for mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions produced by our lifestyles. Something else I found that was super interesting about community gardens is that when they are implemented in urban areas, community gardens can help to reduce heat islands and increase stormwater retention. In addition to the environmental benefits, community gardens offer fresh and healthy produce to those who need it. The garden in my community donates its produce and harvests to local food banks to distribute to the people who need those fresh foods the most. Living in the Bay Area typically means a lot of buildings, cars, traffic, and not a lot of greenery, but knowing that there are community gardens in my city has opened my eyes to a whole new dimension of actions I can take to live more sustainably. 

    As soon as this quarter wraps up and I have more free time, I am definitely going to look into attending a gardening class offered by LEAF and volunteer my time with them at their gardens! LEAF also sells fresh produce and plants from their gardens and I’ve been eyeing some of the items in their spring inventory and I’m excited to be using my buying power to support such a great cause. 

    • Audrey Goodman's avatar
      Audrey Goodman 5/21/2021 5:43 PM
      Hi Alice! I really enjoyed your response about community gardens and the benefits of such gardens. I think community gardens are not only a good way of carbon sequestration, but also a way to build community cohesiveness and encourage everyone to take little steps to help take action against the climate crisis. I also thought what you mentioned about AmazonSmile was very cool because it was something I didn’t know of, because it is so easy to contribute to a charity or organization. I am not that frequent of an Amazon shopper, although I do use it occasionally for convenience, but I am also trying to take steps to not use Amazon for a few different reasons, similar to yours. In terms of community gardens, your research made me aware of even more benefits of these gardens, such as how they can help reduce heat islands and increase stormwater retention. I would agree that community gardens provide an area of greenery and nature in cities where there is often a lack of greenery. I think it would be very cool to have a spot in a community garden, but like we talked about in class the other day, it is also possible to make your own yard into a little garden!

    • HARRISON CHU's avatar
      HARRISON CHU 5/20/2021 11:58 PM
      Hi Alice, it was very interesting reading about your research into community gardens, land sinks, and carbon sequestration. It seems like planting community gardens has many benefits which would improve the quality of life for the community. This relates directly to the research I did about regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agriculture practices include no tillage, diverse cover crops, in farm fertility (no external nutrients), no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and multiple crop rotations. All of these practices contribute to increasing carbon-rich soil organic matter. This leads to deeper roots, better nutrient uptake, increased water retention, pest resistant plants, and compounding soil fertility. When considering planting gardens, I believe regenerative agriculture practices would be very important to implement to ensure the gardens planted are run sustainably and in the most eco-friendly way possible.Good luck in your gardening class and I hope you are able to take part in installing a community garden!

    • Alice Ma's avatar
      Alice Ma 5/20/2021 11:47 PM
      Forgot to add my picture to my original post! 
  • Reflection Question
    Electricity Invite a friend to calculate the carbon footprint of their household
    What kinds of discussions did you have, or are you hoping to have with friends about climate change?

    Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 5/15/2021 11:20 PM
    Today, my boyfriend and I each calculated the carbon footprint of our respective households. We used both the Household Carbon Footprint Calculator provided by the EcoChallenge site and an Ecological Footprint Calculator I found online that gives a resulting footprint in the number of Earths it would take to sustain the world if every single person made the same decisions as us. It was so interesting to see the results of both calculators. Both of us had results that aligned with the average American average. 

    Something that we talked about after looking at our calculations is how hard it is to control where exactly we are getting our electricity from. Neither of our homes has solar panels installed, or any other type of renewable energy investment, which means the energy we use comes from the power grid in our communities. I live in the Bay Area and my electricity is provided by PG&E so I did some digging on their website to find where exactly our energy is being supplied from. I was able to find a breakdown of the 2018 power mix of energy resources and discovered that in 2018, 39% of the residential electricity was supplied by renewable, 13% by hydroelectric, 15% by natural gas, and 34% by nuclear. I was honestly shocked that the energy breakdown was mostly from renewable energy sources. Still, it is not yet 100% renewable energy nor is it carbon neutral so there are definitely still steps to be taken. My parents have been bouncing back and forth between whether or not to install solar panels on our roof for the last few years, and I’ve been trying to convince them to finally take the step and invest in solar power. Fingers crossed in the next year or so, they actually do install them! 

    Another topic my boyfriend and I discussed was the fact that according to the Drawdown article about electricity, “840 million people still lack access to electricity.” That statistic prompted us to talk about how countries like the United States, UK, Canada, and other developed nations have been able to take advantage of fossil fuels and nonrenewable energy sources to advance their economies and become the global leaders they are today. Yet, these are the same nations that are producing the most carbon emissions. Developing nations are not only faced with the disproportionately higher consequences of climate change but also have not been able to gain the same advantages that developed countries have been benefiting from for decades. This sentiment really highlighted how global environmental injustice is and how the issue goes beyond just how much electricity we use at home. 

    • Nora Clarkowski's avatar
      Nora Clarkowski 5/17/2021 7:24 PM
      Alice, thank you for doing so much research on this topic and educating me further. After reading your post, I was inspired to look into my own energy sources from my hometown of Edina, Minnesota.

      I looked into Minnesota as a whole and learned that although coal fired power plants supply the largest amount of Minnesota's electricity generation, "almost all the rest of Minnesota's electricity generation comes from wind, which supplied 19% of the state's electricity net generation in 2019, and natural gas, which fueled 18%. Smaller amounts of electricity are generated from solar energy, biomass, and conventional hydropower" (U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)). Although coal fired power plants are energy efficient, they are not sustainable and contribute highly to carbon emissions. With the amount of rural area of outside of the metro area in Minnesota, I believe that there is a lot of space and land to develop more renewable energy sources in the future. Before being inspired by your post, I never really thought about where my electricity comes from or how it really works even. Learning more about this makes me more aware of my energy usage. 

      I also have never had solar panels in my house, and honestly don't see many solar panels around my hometown. Although they are expensive, I hope that in the future I see more sustainable energy like solar panels being put in in the future. I hope your parents make the decision to put them in, you have inspired me to bring up the topic to my parents as well!

    • CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
      CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/17/2021 6:57 PM
      This was really a really interesting read!
       I'm also from the Bay, and we get our energy from PG&E as well. It's funny how I've never thought about exactly where this energy comes from. As long as my light turns on and my phone charges, I've never really thought twice about whether this energy is sustainable. But it is a relief to see that the majority of PG&E's energy comes from renewable sources.

      Over the course of the quarter, I'm starting to think that becoming more knowledgeable and aware of our impacts is so, so important. It propels us to become more responsible and it really is the first step to repairing our relationship with the ecosystem.

      I really appreciate that you brought up environmental injustice as a major concern. Environmental injustice has been a consistent pattern in so many Eco-challenge posts, and it makes me feel so kind of guilty that I'm taking advantage of these luxuries at the expense of others. At the same time, I can't imagine even living a day without access to electricity. 

  • Alice Ma's avatar
    Alice Ma 5/15/2021 10:13 PM
    Why are you here?

    Over the past quarter, the time I’ve spent in this class and researching climate change has been incredibly eye-opening. Growing up in the 2000s, the term “climate change” has never been a foreign phrase or concept, but despite hearing it almost every day either in the news or just in passing conversations, I never really understood the severity of the issue until recently. Coming into this class, I didn’t even realize we were going to be examining climate change until the first lecture, and I definitely didn’t realize how much it would change my perspective towards the role I play in combating climate change. 

    This class has definitely taught me to “own my perspective” and to embrace the interdisciplinarity of my future career. Now, I’m hoping to take the opportunity to learn to make sustainable decisions and use what power or influence I do have to invite others to take similar actions. Oftentimes, when I consider climate change and the consequences of it, I’m hit with a feeling of helplessness and fear. I want to use these challenges as a way to create positive change and reframe my mindset to one that is hopeful about our future and our abilities to combat climate change. 

    Growing up in the Bay Area meant that I spent most of my childhood in the suburbs, but every so often, my parents would take me and my sister out on road trips to visit national parks, go hiking or skiing, and just enjoy nature. Those are memories I treasure, and I hope to be able to keep making more memories from exploring nature. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my research into the climate crisis is that it’s not only these pockets of nature that will suffer as a result of climate change, it’s every single aspect of our lives. Previously, when I’d thought of conservation efforts or making environmentally-conscious decisions, I’d always imagined saving forests or lakes or mountains from pollution. Now, I’ve come to realize that it is much more than that. Living sustainably is the only way to ensure that we can still have clean water to drink in 50 years, or that we can still walk outside in the summer without overheating or suffering from severe sun damage. I hope that I can take the time here to embrace a sustainable lifestyle and encourage my family and friends to do that same! The picture I choose to upload is one I took a few winters ago, on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe. It’s one of my favorite pictures, and it really encompasses a lot of what I love about nature!