Since starting at as the new US Digital Divestment Campaigner, I keep thinking of one summer afternoon storm two years ago in Eastern Turkey.

The sky was a sick orange as ominous dust clouds marched across the Anatolian plateaus. Old nomadic beekeepers, with their faces wrinkled from years of squinting at the horizon sighed as they ducked into their white canvass tents, muttering in Turkish “well, there goes our season.”

Within minutes, the clouds were upon us, and brown hail the size of golf balls pummeled the tent. Accompanying the ice orbs, thick dark sludge slid from the sky and landed in deafening plops.

Mud rain fell for the next few hours, covering all of the plants in thick film, wiping out all of the blossoms, and stunting an otherwise promising 2012 honey season. This June mud rain was devastating, but it wasn’t the only inclement weather we would see that summer high on the fragile grasslands of Northeastern Turkey, bordering Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. There would be blizzards in the middle of July and August too that would wipe out whatever flowers remained.

Storm clouds loom over nomadic beekeeper hives in Eastern Turkey (photo: Cat Jaffee)

Storm clouds loom over nomadic beekeeper hives in Eastern Turkey (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

And that was it. Thousands of beekeepers that had traveled hundreds of miles to be here on the plateaus would pack up hives of hungry bees early and turn around to venture into the lowlands, pumping their bees with sugar and medication to keep them alive for yet another season somewhere else.

Cellphone waves! Pesticides! Monocrops! Varroa Mites! There are countless war cries around what’s wiping out the bees. But out in Eastern Turkey there are few telephone lines and limited organized agriculture. Here, many people keep bees the same way since the beginning of recorded time; yet only recently are bees visibly struggling. And the main culprit that few even consider is climate change.

Since age 22, I have been traveling to this part of the world to start a community led honey tasting trekking company called Balyolu: The Honey Road. Eventually, I picked up everything and made Eastern Turkey my home, running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the idea, winning business competitions, rallying grant funding, and even convincing National Geographic to support me as a Young Explorer, only to find myself in the middle of some of the worst honey seasons in world history. Many factors contributed to why no one could produce honey, but variable weather unlike anything anyone has ever seen was reason number one.

A beekeeper in Eastern Turkey opens his hive to reveal a tomb of dead bees (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

A beekeeper in Eastern Turkey opens his hive to reveal a tomb of dead bees (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

During the five years that I spent building and eventually running my company, the weather became more and more unpredictable, the honey less and less mellifluous, and the beekeepers increasingly disheartened. As my company struggled, and environmental and political protests rippled across the country in 2013, it became time to leave Turkey and return to Colorado where fires, floods, and fracking circled my home.

Looking down at my resume, trying to figure out what to do next, I saw in all of my experiences something that each of us have: a climate context, a climate CV. These are the ways in which climate change has followed all of us, forcing us in and out of jobs and homes, influencing the way we live, what we eat, and why we believe what we believe. Avalanches, draughts, typhoons, blizzards, floods, and mud rain were the main headings of mine, and it felt like time to start doing something about it.

So I linked up with to help run some of our story-telling platforms, focusing on fossil free and divestment. My hope is to impact the way we US citizens view our own global presence and start applying pressure to our political and economic systems to take a good long look at our collective climate CV. I know there is no possible scenario in which we can use fossil fuels forever, let alone beyond the next 50 years, so why wait and watch as mud rain suffocates flowers and stifles bees; or as floods drown our homes and then fires light their wreckage ablaze? Divestment has legs, because it initiates the social stigmatization that we need to move forward. Divestment is not asking people to stop driving cars or flying planes, nor does it ignore that all of us still rely on fossil fuels in many ways. What divestment does is it asks us to take the first step in recognizing our own climate context. Divestment helps our communities become aware, respond, and transition to new ways of living by applying the age-old tactic of simple social pressure.

As part of my role now, I wake up and read hundreds of articles about climate change in the US, a job that sounds like it should be depressing; except that it’s not. I see sparks of hope across all of our news feeds, people of all faiths joining together to divest, universities taking a stand, and communities and governments rallying together to build a world that we can all continue to live in.

I think enough of us have looked up and seen a mud-filled dark orange sky, a sign from weather and nature that something isn’t right. And enough of us have looked down at our climate CVs and decided that it’s time that we do something about it all.

Join me on our Fossil Free social media channels FBTwitterInstagram, and let’s build our movement together.

Cat Jaffee and local women beekeepers work with Caucasian honey bees (Photo: Rebecca Shannon Spitzer).

Cat Jaffee and local women beekeepers work with Caucasian honey bees (Photo: Rebecca Shannon Spicer).