Retired teacher becomes 'Paladin' for climate change
January 13, 2022
Retired teacher Nancy Snyder has found a way to educate people about the causes of extreme weather, and the Climate Change Committee of the League of Women Voters of Mason County is but one of the recipients of the knowledge Snyder has gained in the past year.
Snyder was originally slated to attend an in-person training session offered by the nonprofit Climate Reality Project, which was founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2005 as the Alliance for Climate Protection. However, COVID-19 killed those plans in 2020.
Snyder had a second opportunity to participate in the Climate Reality Project’s training in 2021 when it was offered via a 10-day virtual conference.
Snyder, who’s in her mid-70s, had already been concerned with climate change for years, but had previously been content to support climate science through charitable donations and making climate-friendly purchases. Then she read “The End of Ice” by journalist Dahr Jamail in 2019.
After Snyder attended one of Dahr’s lectures, she said she was struck by the immediacy of climate change, so she took out an ad in the Shelton-Mason County Journal that underscored those global effects and urged fellow grandparents to help protect their grandchildren’s future.Initially discouraged by the lack of positive or negative reaction, Snyder saw another opportunity by joining the Climate Change Committee of the League of Women Voters of Mason County.
“Their guest speakers have shared their expertise and research on climate issues,” Snyder said. “They’ve all been invaluable to me, as I’ve struggled to decide which path I wanted to take.”
Missing out on the in-person Climate Reality training session was disappointing, Snyder said, because “I’d hoped to be immersed in a group of like-minded people from around the world, and to be able to learn from them and the climate scientists leading the training.”
Snyder said she tends not to care for Zoom and other online technologies, but she nonetheless signed up to sit in front of her computer for 10 days, “listening and learning.”
Snyder realized she needed to prepare her own presentation, not just pass on knowledge she’d received on the climate. She realized she needed to show how climate change applies to our region, noting, for instance, that the acidification of our waters has harmed shellfish and other marine life. Rising temperatures and droughts affect the resilience of agricultural lands and forests.
“When I first started teaching social studies in the 1970s, I was contacted by the Flat Earth Society,” said Snyder, who explained that the group essentially wanted her to “disprove” photos taken of the Earth from space by astronauts. “I ignored the request, but neither did I teach my classes about the dangers of conspiracy theories. I wish now that I’d done more, throughout my teaching career, to emphasize the need to counter such theories with verifiable facts.”
Snyder sees parallels between those earlier conspiracy theories and “well-funded” modern groups claiming that climate scientists’ findings are a hoax.
Snyder noted that taking action can consist of simple steps, from sending letters to your local news media and emails to your government representatives to supporting measures in your hometown such as tree-plantings and community gardens.
Snyder said that the extreme weather we’ve experienced over the past year has made her mission all the more urgent.
“The heat dome in June cost people’s lives, as well as those of millions of marine animals, resulting in millions of dollars of economic damages,” Snyder said. “The more recent atmospheric river — which caused unusual rainfall amounts, resulting in flooding and mudslides throughout our region — is just one more reason to take action.”
Despite the effects of such weather events, Snyder said she hopes to offer reasons for hope as well, from advances in technology and “innovation” to basic steps that nearly anyone can take.
“Two-thirds of Americans simply never talk about the warming of the planet,” Snyder said. “We can all avail ourselves of resources to take action and learn more. For instance, you can go online to the NOAA website and see pictures and data for yourself. To me, anything’s better than relying solely on social media.”
Paraphrasing the motto of the mid-20th century TV cowboy Paladin, Snyder says of herself, “Have presentation, will travel,” inviting groups large or small, with appropriate COVID protocols in place, to email her at [email protected] about arranging a date, time and location for her to present to them.