Vivian’s Climate Story


Vivian Rittenour



How are you sensing climate change?

Climate change has become an integral part of my adult life as I have dedicated the past few years to working on my undergrad degree in environmental science. As a product of the early 2000’s, I have grown into the person I am today because of how the conversation regarding climate change has grown throughout the years. Being able to take environmental ecology and biology courses that focus on educating public school students on the existence and alarming nature of climate change, has certainly been a factor for my generation’s feelings towards climate change activism. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I have seen first hand how fast climate change has begun to exponentially make itself known. In recent years I have noticed the alarmingly low amounts of rainfall each year, as well as the amount of wildfires that have been devastating the area during dry seasons. Just this past year, I was living in the Eugene area during the 2020 wildfires that had devastated millions of acres. I remember receiving an emergency alert on my phone late in the afternoon telling me that the area I lived in was advised to evacuate the area immediately. I drove 3 hours to Portland through the most apocalyptic setting I have ever seen, to be with my family. It was eerily beautiful at times, driving through the bright water color reds, oranges, and yellows that illuminated the typically grey skies. At times, however, we drove through so much soot and ash that it looked as if it were the middle of the night. Only the flicker of a neon McDonalds sign occasionally would I realize how unnatural this drive was. After the fires had subsided and the fall season kicked in, my nose still smelled the burning red skies.

How do these changes make you feel?

These changes make me feel lost and helpless, but through my studies of environmental ethics, I am able to grapple with the logistics pertaining to why certain groups are more effected with environmental injustices, like wildfires, as well as how we can change the trajectory climate change is in. It’s incredibly important that we acknowledge those who are devastated more by environmental injustices and do our best to help those in need not just after an event, but also by preventing certain environmental injustices from being so devastating.






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