A Force of Nature in the Fight against Climate Change
A bar graph made of colored pencils stands bolted to a wall, each bar representing an action you can take immediately to help mitigate the climate crisis. In a video nearby, Judi Lax delivers a message of urgency and hope. This is the last stop in the TAU Steinhardt Museum of Natural History’s exhibition “Global Warning”, for which Lax is the Scientific Curator, one of several efforts to she is making to address climate change. She is also a PhD candidate researching alternative electricity sources at TAU’s Porter School of Environment and Earth Sciences and a proactive climate change educator. On top of that, she is raising three daughters.
Advancing Humanity, With a Little Help
Lax is able to keep up with her myriad roles in part thanks to several fellowships and grants, including the prestigious Dan David PhD Fellowship which she received in 2019. For Lax, receiving the Fellowship has allowed her to set an example for her daughters as a woman following her passion and fighting for a better future.
She adds that funding for environmental and climate change research is absolutely vital at this moment, stressing that addressing climate issues effectively will require a broad set of solutions found by many different researchers in many fields.
One Person’s Impact
Lax first became concerned about climate change and sustainability when she was working in corporate marketing, where the products she was advertising created unnecessary waste. The strategy did not line up with her morals. At the same time, she saw how one person, especially a leader, can make a big impact; for example a CEO could reduce carbon emissions by switching all company cars to hybrids. Eventually, she could no longer ignore her conscience, and she left the corporate world to become one of those leaders.
In keeping with her goal, Lax has since done extensive work to educate the public and inspire them to do their part in the fight against the climate crisis. In 2018, she took part in Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Leaders” initiative, where she was trained by Gore himself to educate large groups including climate deniers and policymakers. To bring that knowledge to Israel, she translated the presentations into Hebrew and still regularly gives them to groups of 50-100 people. She’s also been able to reach even more people thanks to the Steinhardt exhibit, with 100,00 visitors already this year including educators and policymakers.
Looking to the Future (And the Present)
Lax is researching the use of humidity to sustainably produce electricity, building off the discovery that high voltage collects on certain metals in very humid conditions. This could be useful to power small electric devices, especially where solar energy is less convenient. She is also indexing large cities with high humidity where this solution might be the most impactful.
Lax hopes to go on to work with decision makers at high levels, and to help them understand that this crisis is everyone’s concern and everyone’s responsibility. For COP27, the annual UN climate change conference this year in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, her “final decisions” wall—that's the bar graph made of colored pencils—was considered for recreation as Israel’s contribution to the conference. “My goal is to shift the needle towards a more sustainable future.”
-By Ruth Fertig