Dr. Amber Pairis, director of Climate Science Alliance-South Coast   Photo courtesy of Amber Pairis

Idyllwild has raised some talented and hard-working people over the years. Whether it’s in academia or the arts, there is an influx of successful people that come from our town. Dr. Amber Pairis, director of Climate Science Alliance-South Coast, is one of those people. 

Pairis moved to Idyllwild when she was four years old and spent her elementary and middle school years at Idyllwild School. 

Pairis attended ISOMATA, now known as Idyllwild Arts Academy (IAA), after first attending the Elliott-Pope Preparatory School in Idyllwild. Elliott-Pope had to close its doors after 60 years on Dec. 31, 1990 due to a decline in attendance and the recession. 

While attending IAA, Pairis majored in visual arts.

“I think being an artist helped me to be a better scientist and has definitely been a part of why I work the way I do,” Pairis said. 

She graduated from IAA in 1992 and furthered her education at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she double majored in art and environmental studies.

She then went on to do three years of research on the remote northwestern Hawaiian Islands with endangered species. 

“You can see I like these hopeful topics, endangered species, rarest of the rare,” Pairis said. “Things that my children will never see. Then, during my doctorate, I pivot to climate change. Working on climate change for almost 20 years, I like to say it’s been just enough time with climate scientists to be terrified, but I can’t live in that space. I decided to focus on the positive — climate hope.” 

Pairis did her graduate work at Antioch University New England, earning her doctorate in environmental studies.

In 2015, Pairis created Climate Science Alliance (CSA). Its mission is to safeguard natural and human communities in the face of a changing climate by leading activities and creating partnerships that increase awareness of climate change impacts, promote solutions and facilitate action. 

CSA has grown to partner with over 200 organizations, collaborate on six large-scale research projects and engage with more than 100,000 community members. 

“Everything I do is to bring our community together, to build resilience and safeguard people and places,” Pairis said. “We have amazing programs with art and artists, a climate kids program and building relationships between researchers and community.”

According to the CSA website, “Pairis served as the climate change advisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for five years and created the department's Climate Science Program and CDFW Climate College.”

When the Town Crier asked Pairis what we can do to make a difference, she said: “Taking care of yourself and others in the climate sphere is a marathon, not a sprint. Collaboration is key — leaning on each other, supporting, promoting and linking together where appropriate have a bigger impact than we can alone. Little things count — everyday actions count, kindness and taking care of each other, making a daily impact and be an active part of the discussion.”

For more information about Climate Science Alliance visit www.climatesciencealliance.org.