Yesterday, December 11th, the COP21 Conference including 195 countries came to an agreement on the need to shift from carbon-based fuels and on a way to do so. This is a start to the type of global progress that we need and while the goals and limitations will not solve the problem, it is, finally, a serious beginning. Congratulations to the world’s nations who came together to begin seriously addressing the problem that threatens our future.
Category Archives: Conference of Parties
While the world’s climate negotiations are taking place in Paris at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, a simulated negotiation took place here, in Miami, on December 5th at the Frost Museum of Science that included 60 high school students from the Upward Bound program along with 120 students from StarBot Academy, Breakthrough Miami’s middle school STEM Program. I was proudly asked to act as a Climate Advisor to some of the children and was assigned to the group that represented the world’s developing nations including Pakistan and the Middle East, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, and the Island Nations.
The program, which was sponsored by Breakthrough Miami, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Dream in Green and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science was a mock-UN climate negotiation that educated the children on climate change including social and economic impacts to the world’s various nations. It was fascinating to see the depth that children as young as middle schoolers undertook in considering how a changing climate will impact jobs, industry, technology, agriculture and, of course, various aspects of the environment. I am not surprised by the children’s understanding of these issues, I see such reactions all the time as I present my Sink or Swim initiative to children, but it sure was encouraging.
Organized by Climate Interactive’s World Climate Project, the children not only learned about many climate related topics but used a policy decision making simulator called C-ROADS (Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support), which was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Climate Interactive, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and Ventana Systems. The children from each country or group of countries then created an action plan that addressed the concerns of their member nations and then entered into robust, often passionate, debate from the auditorium stage as they argued their position and facts in support of their temperature goals.
It was a wonderful experience being with the children and so many passionate people. I am also happy to report that working together, negotiating with one another, we were able to set climate temperature goals (an increase of no more than 2%) that, if the world’s ‘real’ (current) leaders can accomplish the same result that the children did will lead to tremendous improvement in the future. To the children that participated, as well as the sponsors, thank you for allowing me to be with you. To those who are negotiating the real agreement in Paris, please do your best to set the most aggressive goals possible and know that what you are doing will soon be in the hands of the children that were with us here in Miami and around the world. We, the children of the world, are counting on you and if a bunch of kids can come to a helpful agreement then we expect you can too.
“We have the ability to change, but we have to muster the ability to change.” – Vice President Al Gore
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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.