Jason E. Zeikowitz is an enthusiastic environmental activist. Jason received a master’s in sustainability leadership from Arizona State University. He entered the Salesforce world in part because of its potential for increasing the visibility of environmental sustainability. Among the organizations he has volunteered with over the years, he currently volunteers for KindCause.
In our interview with Jason, he explains how we can become more engaged as individuals and culture in ending the climate crisis. He discusses the role of technology, communication, feeling, civility, and systematic change in recent efforts to improve our environment.
Q: What initial event led to your passion for saving the environment? How long have you been a sustainability advocate?
A: In 2012, I traveled to Beijing, China to Teach English. The opportunity was great and broadened my horizons, but experiencing their air quality made me realize how we needed better systems of Industrialization. I learned more about how to do that in 2015, when I came upon the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. With this motivation and direction, I feel evermore passionate and empowered.
Q: Why do you think solving the climate crisis is important?
A: The climate crisis is just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). It is a symptom of a broken Industrialized system. If you get cancer from smoking cigarettes, you need to fight the cancer, but you also need to stop smoking cigarettes. The climate crisis brings to the surface how the linear economy needs to transition to a circular economy so carbon emissions are not wasted in the air to become greenhouse gasses, but instead captured and repurposed for soil or manufacturing.
Moreover, this re-evaluation of our waste streams also means we need to consider who gets hit the worst. Often, those who contribute the least are affected the most. This is why communications have been a major focus of climate activists. For instance, instead of just saying “global warming”, the term “climate crisis” is now being used to show the elevated danger zone we are in. And the term “environmental justice” covers overarching concerns of industrialization and how it affects different environments and communities.
Q: For those who are just learning about the current climate crisis, what would you want them to know?
A: Knowing is half the battle. Literally. What gets measured, gets improved. So just by being aware of the climate crisis, you planted a seed in your mind to look for problems and solutions.
My only ask is to consider how your life will be affected so you are viscerally called to action. Much like COVID-19, hearing about an incoming danger is different than living in it. Especially in America, we feel so isolated and safe from dangers.
Studies from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication show that majority of Americans are concerned about climate change, but ironically, a majority feel it will not affect them personally.
So knowing is half the battle. The other half is feeling.
Q: What are simple things that we all can do to help save our environment?
A: Individual actions by people and corporations can actually be counterproductive if you become complacent feeling you solved the problem alone. We need systemic change.
The greener choice needs to be the easier choice. This way we don’t just get the few individual actions exhausting themselves to go green, but instead we’ll only have a few laggards who exhaust themselves not to.
We need directive streams for recycling, compost, public transportation, and more.
How do we do all this? Organize and achieve!
Organizing with other climate activists can help share ideas for individual action; initiatives at the local, national, and global levels; and the support to achieve all.
Q: How do you see technology, Salesforce in particular, helping tackle the climate crisis?
A: Salesforce is a great technology company for two reasons: Their purpose and their product.
Firstly, Salesforce as a values-driven company created the Pledge 1% program – encouraging other companies to follow them donating 1% of the profit, people, and product. This means profits are given as direct donations, people are given Paid Volunteer Time (in addition to Paid Vacation Time), and they donate their technology to nonprofits. This technology transforms nonprofits so they can manage their data in new ways, to reach new heights at new speeds.
Secondly, their product doesn’t just help nonprofits change the world. Their product transforms for-profit companies to become sustainable because the technology allows them to see and manage data, so problems don’t become too big too late.
Q: Why do you think it is important for youth and young adults to be involved in sustainability advocacy?
A: There is a major focus on the youth and young adults because they need to be more civically engaged.
The first Earth Day in 1969 had 20 million people attend it. Greta Thumberg’s Global Climate Strike in 2018 had 8 million. What changed? For one thing, civics are no longer taught in school; instead, we have social studies.
Civics needs to be taught to the youth and young adults because:
1. Representation matters. I will leave it with this quote by Michael Envi: “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”
2. Youth and young people are still programming their expectations from society. By teaching civics at this impressionable age, we are developing lifetime voters.
Q: How can people connect with you to learn more about your sustainability advocacy?
A: I’m active on Twitter through two accounts.
@ScienceSigh is my account for climate justice.
@Astro_Nomist is my account for Salesforce and other data science technologies.
The two are not mutually exclusive because the latter is used for the former. They are just different channels, like MTV and Cartoon Network.