She's only been living in San Antonio for three months, but environmental advocate Rozina Kanchwala is quickly making herself known as a leader in the local eco community. Originally from the Midwest, Kanchwala, 28, earned her BA in International Studies in Economics at the University of Illinois and her MA from University College London in Environment Sustainable Development. She recently founded the San Antonio chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a national grassroots organization that lobbies Congress on climate issues. And on December 27-29, Kanchwala, who is also a member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, will host Camp Eco.logic, a three-day educational program for high school students (ages 14-18) on global environmental challenges and solutions. Along with critical discussions on a number of topics, including the modern food system and sustainable agriculture, guest speakers including Lanny Sinkin of Solar San Antonio, Brent Doty of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, and Alyssa Burgin of the Texas Drought Project will make presentations.
What was your inspiration in starting Camp Eco.logic?
Recently, I was in Kenya coordinating a tree planting project and working with a lot of schools. That's when I realized I really like the energy and creativity kids bring. I think it's important to engage with the youth and see what solutions they can come up with. They are our hope.
What do you want these students to take from their experience at the camp?
I want them to understand the science behind climate change and understand its implications globally and locally. I hope its sparks an interest in them to start clubs at their schools or go to college and consider majoring in environmental studies or start an environmental organization on their college campus. I want them to see that climate change is relevant to them. It's not just something happening out there.
With all the scientific data out there on global warming, do skeptics still surprise you?
On one hand yes, but some of these companies that are funding this denial are really powerful. It's interesting because if a scientist comes out with research about climate change, there is some automatic response by some organization who deny it. I think it's important we start winning those conversations. But things are changing. I know here in San Antonio Pete Gallego was just elected to the 23rd District and he supports clean energy. [Quico] Canseco was more about oil.
What environmental topics do you consider critical for San Antonio specifically?
I think we use water very inefficiently. People still water their lawns when we're supposed to be careful in how much we use. Droughts are going to continue to happen, so I think we need to be more concerned about water. Also, San Antonio seems to be very car-centric. To move away from that is going to take a lot of planning, so hopefully the city can move in that direction.
I think when most people hear the term "climate change" they tend to think of global warming, but there are countless other issues that are affected by the increasing temperature. Tell me about the work you did in India as a Fulbright Scholar.
In India I was studying agrarian distress, which includes farmer suicides that are linked to climate change. Farmer suicides in India are quite prevalent. The suicide rate is high because the crops fail because of persistent drought and because they are reliant on seed companies whose seeds don't grow and pesticide companies whose pesticides are inefficient. Their crops haven't grown for a couple of seasons and they just don't see a way out. It's a very sad situation.
8:30am-5:30pm Dec 27-29 (overnight option limited)
31575 Hwy 281N,
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