Dante Gonzales, an undergraduate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, is a familiar face for many students on campus. As a Carbon Neutrality Initiative Engagement Fellow, Gonzales created Carbon Crew, a branch of the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC). Gonzales is also a member of the Students of Color Environmental Collective (SCEC), and he was one of the core organizers of our campus Climate Strike in October 2019. In this month’s Student Spotlight, Gonzales shares his leadership experiences in Berkeley’s environmental community.
Photo courtesy of Dante Gonzales.
What first sparked your interest in carbon neutrality and emissions policy?
Growing up in Southern California, I found it shocking that a person’s zip code can define whether or not they are breathing clean air. Frequently, communities that have been historically disenfranchised—typically low-income, Black, Indigenous, and other POC communities—are forced to breathe polluted air from industrial areas because of lax regulation and discriminatory land-use policies. Clean air is considered to be a human right, but many people feel helpless and alone while inciting change because decision-making has been confined to government and other historically exclusionary government agencies.
Carbon neutrality has always been an important issue for me personally. I believe that solutions can be implemented on multiple levels and can include a broad swathe of populations in the decision-making process. I launched Carbon Crew to offer convenient and impactful ways to empower communities to achieve carbon neutrality. We need all hands on deck to solve the climate crisis, but first, we must equip individuals with the knowledge that they are not alone and can help make positive change.
Describe your position as a Carbon Neutrality Initiative Engagement Fellow, the purpose and future of Carbon Crew, and your department within the Student Environmental Resource Center.
Photo courtesy of Dante Gonzales.
As a Carbon Neutrality Initiative Engagement Fellow, I engage our campus and community with the strategies and goals of the University of California’s Carbon Neutrality by 2025 initiative. Carbon Crew seeks to redefine what it means to "engage" community members with the Carbon Neutrality Initiative. Our engagement goes beyond flyers, info sessions, and lofty policy language, and instead aims to create real, enriching connections with our campus and community. The group focuses on activism that takes a diversified approach toward building climate resilience and achieving carbon neutrality, creating spaces of inclusion for members to join the fight.
Carbon Crew is split up into three teams: Food Justice, Campus Engagement, and CO2RE (CO2 Reduction and Education Team). Our Food Justice Team uplifts marginalized voices, promotes plant-forward options in our campus dining halls, and spurs discourse on alternative agricultural practices. Our Campus Engagement Team involves our community in activities that highlight carbon neutrality and environmental activism. Events in the past have included the UC Berkeley Divestment Panel and the #whatcarbonneutralitymeanstome photo campaign.
Our CO2RE team generates, teaches, and shares environmental curricula with local community centers and schools, with the hope of fostering the next generation of environmental leaders. Eventually, we hope to grow into a Registered Student Organization and create intercity (and maybe even interstate) relations in the fight for carbon neutrality and environmental activism.
Describe your involvement in the Students of Color Environmental Collective and what that space means to you.
This will be the fourth semester that I have been involved in the Students of Color Environmental Collective, and this space really holds a special place in my heart. To see the work of its founders and previous students to better the lives of students of color in the environmental field has been extremely inspirational, given that such spaces are limited in both our campus and society. SCEC provides an opportunity for us to come together, vent, organize, and create a community that shares knowledge, resources, and support.
Photo by Cornelia Grimes.
How did your time at Berkeley inspire you to organize the campus Climate Strike?
I am reminded every day how passionate and strong the environmental community here at Berkeley is. Organizing the climate strike was a coordinated manifestation of this power, and it was truly amazing to see how many people stood with us in solidarity. Although Berkeley is always at the receiving end of protest jokes, the privilege and platform that we have as an institution is undeniable. It would be a shame to not use that power to uplift our most marginalized individuals in addressing the climate crisis. I am excited to see what our community will achieve this semester and what other organizations we can include in our movement for collective liberation.Image: Date: Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 15:00 Byline: Anjika Pai Legacy: section header item: Date: Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 15:00 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Student Stories Expose in main "News river"?: yes
“Most people thought that the terrestrial collapse started at the same time as the marine collapse, and that it happened at the same time in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere,” said paleobotanist Cindy Looy, University of California, Berkeley, associate professor of integrative biology. “The fact that the big changes were not synchronous in the Northern and Southern hemispheres has a big effect on hypotheses for what caused the extinction.
Today Dean Ackerly sent the following message about the COVID-19 situation to alumni, parents, and friends of the College, which addresses how our community has pulled together and responded. The message also includes a link to a new web page compiling short videos from faculty, for the enjoyment of our entire community and to share with newly admitted students who are making the decision on whether to come to Cal next year.
Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends,
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives in ways unimaginable just a few weeks ago. I expect most of you have received messages from Cal, and heard about the rapid transition to remote work and instruction. There is an extraordinary spirit of commitment and collaboration to keep our community safe and do our part to flatten the curve. For many, this has created challenges and anxiety, whether it's concern for family members, supporting students with remote learning, or missing the day to day social interactions with colleagues and friends.
In this moment of "business-as-unusual," I want to lend my voice to the messages of support and solidarity that you've been receiving from other members and leaders of your campus community. Please know, we are with you.
Moments of crisis are also a good time to reflect on our core values. Seeing the bigger picture is a shared principle and motivator for all we do at the College. Together we are working to transform this difficult situation and find opportunities to innovate and support each other until we are back on campus together.
I wanted to give you some key updates on the College and the campus:
- We have transitioned to remote instruction with great success, thanks to the hard work of instructors and students alike. We are all learning new ways to communicate in this "virtual" world. Zoom has been an incredible platform and asset for us, and creates opportunities to bring together some groups who would not normally gather for in-person meetings.
- Research activities are largely curtailed, on campus and in the field, with the exception of COVID-19 research, essential projects, and critical services such as maintaining living material in the greenhouses. While we hope the impacts on research programs can be minimized, we also know that similar steps are being shared by colleagues all over the country.
- All campus events have been cancelled at least through the middle of May. At some point, we will begin to transition back to campus, but right now we don't know when we will be back to normal operations.
- I'm quite sad to report that all commencement ceremonies have been canceled for spring 2020. The main campus ceremony WILL be rescheduled (follow updates here), and all academic units are weighing options to hold events in conjunction with the campus-wide event. Stay tuned for updates.
- We are thinking about offering one or more of our public lectures virtually, via Zoom - watch your inbox for invitations!
- Faculty with expertise in public health, epidemiology, infectious disease, virology, policy, economics, and law are all on the front lines. We are very proud of the research community that contributes so much to California and the nation especially at a time of national crisis. For an in-depth look at the biology of coronaviruses, you can listen to a lecture given yesterday by PMB's Britt Glaunsinger.
- Yesterday, campus hosted a live webcast focused on COVID-19 and the campus' response to the pandemic, and a recording can be viewed here. For the latest updates on the evolving COVID-19 policies and resources for the entire UC Berkeley community, visit https://news.berkeley.edu/coronavirus/.
For many of us nature has always offered a refuge, a place to relax, think, spend time with family and friends, exercise, and play. Everything human beings have needed to thrive was provided by the natural world around us: food, water, medicine, materials for shelter, and even the natural cycles of climate and nutrients. As I've been reflecting over the last two weeks, I've come to appreciate these many gifts that we may take for granted in everyday life. I've started my own backyard bird list, spending a little more time appreciating what is literally at my doorstep.
While we're all spending more time at home, I wanted to share something well suited to social distancing. My team has put together a web page featuring recent talks and presentations from Rausser College faculty on topics near and dear to our hearts. These could be a nice distraction at this moment and there is a lot to learn from these videos. I hope you enjoy them. They can be found here.
I want to express my deep appreciation to all faculty, staff, and students in the College for pulling together to face this situation, and all of you for your support and engagement. We look forward to opportunities to see you again in person in the not too distant future. We always appreciate your feedback; contact us at email@example.com.
With warm regards and wishes for health,
Dean, Rausser College of Natural Resources
Photo by Peg Skorpinski.
Congratulations to environmental science, policy, and management professor Allen Goldstein on receiving the 2019 Yoram J. Kaufman Outstanding Research and Unselfish Cooperation Award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The award recognizes Goldstein for his expertise within atmospheric science and his influence in the field, and for his accomplishments in mentorship and guidance of young scientists, creativity in his research, and fostering international collaboration.
Goldstein’s research focuses on atmospheric chemistry, with particular attention to anthropogenic and natural changes in the composition of the atmosphere. Several current projects in Goldstein’s lab include research on emissions from Northern California wildfires and on secondary aerosol processes in the Amazon.
Learn more about the award on the AGU website.Image: Date: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 13:30 Legacy: section header item: Date: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 13:30 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Honors and Awards Expose in main "News river"?: yes
Compliments to MCB Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Matthew Welch on receiving one of two 2020 Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Awards!
In a new video, Britt Glaunsinger, professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and investigator at the Innovative Genomics Institute, discusses the genetics, evolution, and virulence of coronaviruses. COVID-19's rapid spread around the globe has highlighted the importance of studying the virus' genetic landscape and molecular structures. Watch the video below, in which Glaunsinger breaks down the latest scientific understanding of coronaviruses while addressesing the main unanswered questions.
Image: Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 15:15 Legacy: section header item: Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 15:15 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Multimedia Research News Expose in main "News river"?: yes
Congratulations to Roberto Zoncu on receiving tenure and his promotion to MCB Associate Professor!
Congratulations to MCB Professor Marla Feller on receiving a UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award!