It’s safe to assume that most people who find themselves on the Austin Climate Coalition website have at least a bit of interest in bettering our planet, and knowing who Gina McCarthy is a crucial step towards this goal. So - who is she?
Gina McCarthy now serves the newly created role of National Climate Advisor in the Whitehouse. She'll be leading a team to coordinate climate work across branches of the federal government and federal agencies to put the USA on track to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
McCarthy has a pretty impressive resume. Before her most recent appointment to National Climate Advisor, she worked as the head of the National Resource Defense Council (which sued the Trump administration more than 100 times). Before that, she directed the Harvard center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. Prior to that, she ran the environmental protection agency under President Obama. Her resume is pretty stacked.
McCarthy has been backed by groups like the Sunrise Movement and other climate organizations, and her unique perspective on the climate crisis makes her an appealing candidate to lead the way to a greener future. She got her first job in the US government as the first full-time Board of Health Agent in the town of Canton, Massachusetts in the mid-1980s. She realized soon after that the people walking into the health center often had issues that could somehow be connected back to environmental problems. For example, issues like unhealthy air quality, lead paint exposure and consumption, poor housing and many more suddenly became a crucial part of her work. She realized that a person's life is highly dependent on the quality of their environment and their resources. As an agent for Canton Massachusetts’ Board of Health McCarthy took on roles like the State Hazardous Waste Coordinator to determine if water was clean enough to drink. She would inspect food and houses and even septic systems. She saw that the pollution issues her community was facing came from the lack of regulations, and she saw how ignorant so many of our leaders had become when it came to the connection between environmental exposures and health. Her past gives her a unique perspective on the climate crisis, and she was able to understand from direct experience how many negative effects a poorly-cared-for environment can cause. She sees that the climate crisis affects people in real, harmful ways, a fact some politicians chose to ignore.
Gina McCarthy will hopefully lead us to a better future filled with clean energy, low carbon emissions, and environmental equity, so make sure you pay attention to her actions as National Climate Advisor. Always hold the people in power accountable.
Veronica Britton is a junior at McCallum HS.