Dispatches from the Future
A Forecast of the Future
It was the day before graduation, and it was hot. Much hotter than the graduating class of 20 years ago experienced as they prepared for the ceremony and celebrations. Adjusting to a higher average temperature was just one way in which Chico State and the community had to adapt to the changing climate. The ceremony was now held indoors in smaller groups, and the student was preparing her home for an outdoor party to celebrate the evening after she graduated.
She was particularly proud of the community she lived in. An initiative to create small groups of sustainable communal housing off campus had provided her with affordable housing for most of her years attending Chico State. She was also able to integrate this sustainable living initiative into her coursework toward her degree Environmental and Social Sustainability.
Life in the area had changed in many ways. Winter trips to snowshoe in Forest Ranch and ski in the Sierra Nevada mountains were few and far between; these types of activities were only possible during the occasional extreme winter, and even then the snow levels were significantly less than they had been when her parents were in college. The town became a ghost town in the summer compared to the population in the winter, as the majority of people traveled somewhere the temperature dropped below 70.0 degrees at night, and didn’t reach 105 as frequently.
Her small community had adapted well; they grew heat-resistant fruits and vegetables and learned to survive only on the electricity generated by their own solar panels. They had made a living project out of living simply and sustainably, and were thriving at it. This experience, combined with the rest of her coursework, had given her an advantage as a graduating senior looking for a job in sustainability. She even hoped to start her own consulting firm, advising businesses and communities on how they could better adapt to the changing climate. The main lesson she had learned was that anything is possible, and climate change provided more opportunities for growth than anyone had imagined it would 20 years ago.
-- Ashley Manning