Category Archives: Ben Kirtman

A TEDx Talk Mother’s Day Gift

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I am humbled and excited to share with you that the video for the TEDx Talk that I gave on sea level rise earlier this year has just been released and I cannot think of a better day to share it with everyone than Mother’s Day.

The reason that sharing this with you today is so appropriate is because of the wonderful support that my mother (and father and brother) has given to me is beyond anything that I could have hoped for and is part of the reason that The Sink or Swim Project has touched thousands of people in such a short time.

I sincerely hope that you will share this TEDx Talk with as many people as possible. The topic and the message are very important to South Florida, our country, and our planet. As you will see, the talk focuses on the fact that our planet is warming, seas are rising, that we must and can overcome political obstacles that protect old habits, and that the children of my generation “get it” and will demand solutions, as well as lead the way during our lifetimes to implement them.

Thank you to my mother for all of her love and support and happy Mother’s Day to your moms. The love of a mother is like no other and should be cherished, and that includes cherishing our environment and Mother Earth.

A Special Report from the University of Miami

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Dr. Ben Kirtman, Professor and Director of the Cooperative Institute of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, is one of the world’s leading climate scientists, a co-author of the NOAA Climate Prediction Task Force and the IPPC’s most recent report, as well as someone who has been very kind to help educate me about climate change and sea rise over the last few years. He and many other exceptional educators all over the University such as Dr. Hal Wanless, Professor and Chair of the School’s Department of Geological Sciences, are at the absolute cutting edge of the study of sea level rise science, the social and health impacts that climate change will increasingly have on our world, alternative energy solutions that we must commit to and the policy making issues that will help us solve this growing crisis.

The University of Miami is, in my view, uniquely positioned to both study and help solve this growing crisis and, although I admit being biased (I am a graduate of the school’s Summer Scholars Program in Tropical Marine Biology and plan to study Ecosystem Science & Policy there this coming summer as well as follow my mom, dad and grandfather, all of whom are Miami grads, by applying late this year for undergrad admission), I am deeply proud and excited that the new University President, Julio Frenk, has made climate change a major focus of his administration, of part of what he calls The Relevant University. In his recent Inauguration speech Dr. Frenk made his commitment to helping the world on its climate concerns clear when he said;

    For instance, rising sea levels—a major threat to Miami as well as the rest of the world—was discussed repeatedly during my listening exercise. Climate change is an arena where virtually every academic discipline has something to contribute, and where the institution is already showing the way forward. In the coming months, we will announce a new University-wide effort to expand our considerable expertise in sea level rise. This is exactly the kind of transformative, global contribution that Miami can and should be making to the search for sustainable solutions.

So with these thoughts in mind I am pleased to share the news of the University’s campus wide focus on climate change and to share with you their brand new overview that shows the depth of their commitment and ability to help our community and world. As we say around these parts, it really is “All About The U’!

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“We have the ability to change, but we have to muster the ability to change.” – Vice President Al Gore

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I hope that you won’t mind me sharing news (mainly in pictures) about two events here in Miami that took place last week that, together, illustrate the progress being made in educating people about sea level rise, but also the challenges that our planet and people face from this forthcoming catastrophe…

I was honored to spend three amazing days at the Climate Reality Leadership Training program that was led by Vice President Al Gore, who conducted the majority of the education. Talk about someone with a passion and dedication! The conference was attended by 1,200 people from 86 countries. Highlights for me included meeting tons of amazing people (thanks to each of you!) from around the globe who care about this issue, world leaders on climate change, and not one, but two Noble Peace Prize winners (Al Gore and famed Glaciologist Dr. Eric Rignot from California)!

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France will be hosting the world later this year as the United Nations conducts its Conference of the Parties Framework Convention on Climate Change (known as COP21) in Paris. COP21 is designed to bring the world together to create a new international agreement on the climate with the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees.  Last Monday night I was fortunate to attend the French Ameri-Can Climate Talks (FACTS) that were held here in Miami Beach and which are designed as a precursor to COP21 that takes place from November 30th to December 2nd in Paris.

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The FACTS panel was amazing and included Fatou Ndoye, Deputy Regional Director of the United Nations Environmental Program, Philippe Letrilliart, Consul General of France here in Miami,  Dr. Ben Kirtman, Associate Dean of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, Dr. Juliet Pinto, Associate Professor at FIU, Phillip Levine, Mayor of Miami Beach, Dr. Anny Cazenave, Director of Earth Sciences at the International Space Science Institute, Dr. Eric Rignot, Glaciologist and Moderator John Morales, Chief Meteorologist here at NBC 6.

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The panel discussed the science of climate change, what has changed in recent decades and what will happen in the near and long term of our future. The data and research that Dr. Cazenave and, separately, Dr. Rignot presented was alarming and clearly defined the depth of the problem at hand, the damage that has been done and what is very likely to take place within my lifetime and my children’s lives. When I asked Dr. Rignot for his own personal view of how high seas might rise in my lifetime, this based on his life’s work in the world’s artic environments, his answer of “at least 3 meters” (that’s about 9.8 feet) was, well, sobering and sad.  3 meters of water above current levels will present massive problems to our environment, man’s infrastructure and society all over earth.

To learn more about COP21, click here.

All the week’s education and passion aside, the point of these programs was vividly represented all over South Florida by the annual King Tides and with it, rising salt water all over our region. The flooding, the heights of which have never been seen before, included massive coastal salt water flooding, inland flooding, road closures, water rising nearly to people’s knees and together illustrated the reason for these important conferences and training.

The good news is, the passion of the people attending these events and working to solve this problem will not, it is clear to me, be stopped. Together we will overcome politics, social and economic challenges, and all else that stands between where we are today and solving this very real problem. I am sure that we can work together to solve sea rise and global warming because we must take it seriously and change our behaviors. We have no other choice.

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To learn more about Climate Reality, click here, to learn more about FACT, click here. Consider telling someone else about this topic, learning more, and getting involved. Speaking of getting involved, please consider joining others who are concerned about sea rise by attending the People’s Climate Change Movement Miami’s March For REAL Climate Leadership on October 14th in downtown Miami. The March starts at 5 PM and Government Center. To learn more visit www.peoplesclimate.org.

Together we will solve this problem.

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