In his latest book, GPS alumnus Palmer Owyoung ’98 explores the legislative, economic and societal changes needed to mitigate climate change
Palmer Owyoung, a 1998 graduate from the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), says all of the best moments in life have been in nature. When he lived in California, he was an avid hiker, camper, snowboarder, skier, rock climber and mountain biker. He’s done his share of scuba diving and is also a surfer.
“Since I love nature, I feel compelled to do what I can to protect it,” Owyoung explained.
And in 2020, he set out to do exactly that, by writing a book on the complex topic of climate change.
Owyoung, a resident of Phuket, Thailand, for the past 12 years, was volunteering at beach cleanups and writing a column on sustainability for his local newspaper with the aim of solving local environmental issues.
“It was the first year of COVID and things were looking kind of bleak — climate change wasn’t getting as much attention,” Owyoung explained. “I wanted to write a hopeful book about the future, without being a Pollyanna, so the book is very grounded in science and data.”
The book, titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: A Community Guide to Solving the Biggest Problem On the Planet,” took Owyoung two and a half years to write, and he compared it to writing a Ph.D. dissertation.
“The book is about 650 pages long, and it covers a lot of ground: it looks at who is most responsible for climate change, how we can fix it using current technologies and how to pay for it,” Owyoung said. “It has almost 1,100 citations, which took a lot of time and energy to find and read through, so at times it felt overwhelming.”
In the book, Owyoung argues that protecting biodiversity is as important as solving climate change because it is a requirement for a healthy ecosystem.
“Biodiversity provides us with food, clean air, clean water, plants, trees, raw materials and protects us from disease, so even if you aren’t a nature lover, there is an economic argument to be made for protecting nature,” Owyoung said. “Multiple studies show that our health and happiness are linked to having natural green spaces, so having a healthy environment isn’t just nice to have; it is a requirement for humans to thrive.”
Owyoung added that his time at the school helped to make him both a better writer and thinker. He pointed out that GPS focuses on the interconnectivity of the world and teaches students how the politics and economics of one country can have a ripple effect — similar to how the environment is interconnected.
“Solving climate change requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses socio-economic issues, the abuse of power by corporations, the high carbon-emitting lifestyles of the wealthy, the inefficiency of our food and energy systems, and how little regard we have for nature,” Owyoung said. “Being able to come up with cogent arguments grounded in facts and data to defend my position is a skill I sharpened at GPS.”
Owyoung works as an independent currency trader and writes as a hobby. “Solving the Climate Crisis” is his first nonfiction book.
“I am lucky enough to work at home and I work for myself, so balancing writing and trading wasn’t too much of a problem,” Owyoung explained.
To learn more about Owyoung’s book, visit his website.