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Women’s Discoveries that Influence Climate Change

by Erin Twamley

The faces of women making positive changes for the environment and planet are often hidden. Many of them may not have known that their research, discoveries and investigations would help address climate change. They conducted some of their environmental work before we even knew the term!


The following women have done amazing work that enabled us to make strides on curbing climate change:

Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dr. Earle is most notably known as an Oceanographer. In fact, she has spent nearly 271 days of her life underwater. But did you know that data from the oceans and coral reefs is key to understanding the impacts of climate change?

The ocean is one of the largest absorbents of carbon dioxide and helps us to tell the story of the past, present and future on Earth. Dr. Earle’s work helps us understand how we can help keep the oceans healthy.

Dr. Mária Telkes & Eleanor Raymond

Today, commercial and residential solar is booming across the world. But did you know that two women were instrumental in bringing solar power to residential homes in Massachusetts in 1948?

Maria Telkes and Raymond designed a solar-powered house in Massachusetts

Maria Telkes and Raymond designed a solar-powered house in Massachusetts

The idea of a solar powered house in a cold climate baffled most scientists and Americans. But MIT solar energy researcher Dr. Mária Telkes and Boston architect Eleanor Raymond helped to challenge that notion.

Together, they designed and built the first solar powered house in the USA. Breaking or changing perceptions is often a key factor in advancing our clean energy future. It is also important in leading efforts to address climate change. These two women helped people understand that solar energy can power homes and businesses in almost any climate.

Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy is the Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (and is a former EcoHour speaker!). She has dedicated her career to policy work at the local, state and now federal level to address climate change.

She is a strong advocate for decisions and policies that address climate change in the USA and around the world. Her job is to help policy makers and federal agencies make decisions to mitigate climate change.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace is recognized as the first computer programmer. What year was that? 1842! Long before typewriters and computers, people were writing algorithms, she wrote an algorithm for the analytical engine, which would later become known as the world’s first computer program.

Today, computer simulations and models are key for understanding the global, regional and local effects of climate change. Without computers and computer programs, we would not be able to predict and understand our climate future.

To see what other women are doing today to address climate change, check out the article, 20 Women Making Waves in the Climate Change Debate.

Erin Twamley is an energy education specialist and adult educator. She is a leader in providing climate and energy information for STEM education efforts. She authored the book, Climate Change: Discover How It Impacts Spaceship Earth to positively engage youth in learning about and addressing climate change.


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