Sarah E. Lewis is immediate past chair of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society Board of Directors. She spent a career as an attorney working on commercial lending and real estate projects and recently authored a book, “The Change Agents: Whispers in the Wind.” She grew up in Scotia, attended Middlebury College, got a law degree from Syracuse University and a masters in environmental science from the SUNY College of Environmental Forestry. She lives in Albany with her two dogs, Bop and Jazz.
Q: How did you get involved with the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and what makes its mission so important to you?
A: I’ve always loved animals and started supporting MHHS after moving back to the Capital Region in 2004. I was very impressed with the work they did. I met an MHHS board member at a work event and mentioned that I always wondered how to get on that board. She advised they were looking for board members, we went through the process for me to join, and now I’m in the last year before I term off. MHHS’ mission is important to me because I feel strongly that all animals deserve a good home. I also recognize and appreciate everything that animals give back to humans. MHHS does an amazing job transforming the lives of animals and people through partnerships, protection, and hope.
Q: What motivated you to write your novel about nature and humans getting together to save the planet from climate change and what do you hope the novel will accomplish?
A: My initial desire to write the book arose from grief after one of my dogs, Bebop, passed away unexpectedly. Struggling with the loss, I thought I’d write a story in which he was a main character and teamed up with other animals as well as humans. I struggled with what they’d do together and, after reading a climate change blog I follow, decided they’d fight climate change since it impacts both animals and humans. My goal is for the story to inspire people to become Change Agents and get more involved in fighting the climate crisis.
Q: Your novel is described as sending a “hopeful message” rather than one of “doom and gloom.” Why did you take that perspective?
A: Doom and gloom messaging has been prevalent around the topic of climate change and that approach often makes people anxious, want to shut down, and not dwell on it. There’s plenty of bad news on what we’re already experiencing as a result of climate change and what the future may hold if we continue on the current trajectory. Rather than depressing people with the story in “The Change Agents: Whispers in the Wind,” I wanted to motivate them to do something in the climate fight by sending the message that if we work together to address climate change, we can make a positive difference for the future.
Q: What do you say to people who deny climate change is happening?
A: I think the main thing to stress is to objectively look at the facts. The tragic storms, fires, floods, and warming temperatures impacting more and more of the planet, particularly in recent years, are the direct result of climate change and have been predicted by scientists for decades. The pure facts of why these events occur demonstrate clearly that the changing climate is a main cause. Climate deniers sometimes say the planet has warmed in the past and the changes we’re now experiencing are part of the natural cycle. While there have been times of warming and cooling in Earth’s history, the current patterns have been caused by human activity, which was not the case for prior cycles. Also, the depth and breadth of human civilization is now much greater than during any prior warming or cooling cycles in which humans may have inhabited any part of the world, making the impacts on people that much greater today. As a result, past eras aren’t comparable to what’s happening now.
Q: Dogs or cats and why?
A: Nothing against cats, but dogs for me. I grew up with dogs and enjoy the company they provide. Compared with cats, dogs seem more apt to follow commands and happier to spend time with humans. Also, my impression is that it may be easier to go for a walk with dogs than cats.
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