Circus tent

Nick Goldsmith of Ithaca, New York, fights climate change for a living. But 15 years ago, it was not even on his radar.

At the time, he had recently graduated from circus school and was making a living as a performer.

“I worked for about 10 years as a professional juggler and acrobat, traveling the world,” Goldsmith says.

But during a show in Germany, he injured his back. He took some time off to heal. While resting, he did a lot of reading and learned about the climate crisis.

“It’s one of those things you can’t un-learn,” he says. “So I started doing a lot of research on my own on climate change itself, on energy efficiency, and on renewable energy.”

He felt compelled to get involved. He joined environmental advocacy groups and then he made the leap: going back to school for a master’s in energy management.

Today, Goldsmith is the sustainability director for the city of Ithaca. He’s working on green building policy and how to support more electric vehicles. His work is helping the city get closer to its goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2030.

“The community here is really, really engaged in sustainability and environmental action,” he says. “And they get involved and they get their hands dirty.”

So Goldsmith’s career has taken a dramatic turn, but the former juggler still has a lot of balls in the air.

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Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Editor’s note: This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.