My Relationship to Climate Change

Harry Kao
Harry Kao

In our Afresh to the Core series, Afreshies discuss what brought them here and what motivates their connection to our mission. Find more stories on the blog and check the Careers page for current openings.

Harry Kao is a Full-Stack Software Engineer, focused on API performance and scalability. He joined Afresh to help reverse climate change.

We all have a personal relationship to climate change. In the face of changes in my own experience of the place I live in, like warmer days and less rain, I remember that our individual actions always have the power to shape the future.

For me, part of doing what I can to build a better future includes making climate change the focus of my work. According to Project Drawdown, food waste is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the top contributors to climate change. And that’s why I joined Afresh: to eliminate the warming that is caused by growing food that we don’t eat. 

How climate change has impacted my life

Changes to our environment are clear even in my own privileged life. I’ve lost some of the summer days that I could spend outside due to toxic wildfire smoke. I’ve noticed that ski seasons in the Sierras have become shorter. And I’ve lost some of the confidence that my children’s lives will be better than my own. 

A recent bestseller
devotes a chapter to each way that climate change will disrupt our lives and access to critical resources: rising temperatures, crop failure, rising sea levels, drought, and wildfires. 

Finding the opportunity in our response to climate change

At all times, there must be someone who is on the cusp; who could have lived a better, fuller life had climate change been ever so slightly less severe. In the years to come, we can expect that many of us will be profoundly affected by the extinction of the polar bears, the disappearance of sandy beaches, or the decline of our hometowns.

Every day that businesses, governments, and individuals hold back on addressing their role in climate change, we are putting more and more people on that cusp.

Some philosophers believe that the rightness of an action is determined by the goodness of its outcome. But the world is complex and outcomes are hard to be certain about. 

What actions we can take to curb climate change

Because we live with such complexity and uncertainty, there’s another idea that I like better, which is that an action’s worth is determined purely by its motivation. This line of thought suggests that we should mean well, do what we can, and let the outcomes be what they may.

It’s tempting to see 1.5 degrees as a magic number that determines a binary outcome: Stay under it and we've solved climate change, go over and we've failed. The best we can do is to apply our skillsets, whatever they may be, to tackling this problem. The sooner, the better.

So let us all mean well and do what we can, and let’s get to work.

Want to join Harry on Afresh’s journey to curb climate change? Apply for our open roles here.