Category Archives: Dream in Green

COP21: A Good Start, But Not Enough

Will The World Go Far Enough To Solve Global Warming in Paris at COP21?

The short answer, I fear, is no and that’s a shame.

Nearly 200 countries from around the world will meet in Paris over the next two weeks to focus on solutions to address the coming catastrophe our planet faces from global warming at the 21st  United Nation’s Conference of the Parties (known as COP21) . It is an important meeting and one that has the potential to create the type of goals that our world needs, but I fear the agreements that will come from these meetings will not do enough, soon enough, and that while it will be a good step, it’s only that, a first step towards the serious changes that people must undertake to truly solve the problem.

I am also concerned with the fact that whatever comes out of the Paris meetings will only be goals, and they will be voluntary, not some legal requirement but more like a collective moral one.

“Science is no longer the bottleneck. The challenge is political and social.”

Dr. John Sterman (aka Dr. Doom), MIT Sloan System Dynamics professor

I worry about how those goals will be implemented or if they will ever be implemented. In my own work, with my own eyes, I see progress being made, more people becoming involved and concerned, but the politics of global warming and sea level rise still stand in the way. For the goals that will come out of Paris, and the more aggressive ones that we will need as a next step if we are going to seriously make a dent is sea level rise, people all over the world will need to demand changes in fossil fuel production and consumption, massive growth in renewable energy such as solar and end our or planets deforestation.

Scientists agree that in order to avoid disaster beyond the damage man has already caused by dramatically increasing carbon in our atmosphere since the time of the Industrial Revolution will require that mankind not allow temperatures to increase more than 2 degrees Celsius. One of my concerns with COP21 and the politics behind it is that the assembled nations will likely agree to a target of 3.5 degrees, far more than is acceptable if we are ever to seriously do something.

MIT’s Climate Interactive ( has created a simple infographic that shows where we are headed if we do nothing (that’s the yellow line at 4.5 degrees), what COP21 participating nations will likely agree to voluntarily set their goal achieve (that’s the blue line at 3.5 degrees), and what’s actually needed in most experts opinions (that’s the green line at 2 degrees). Here is a simple way to understand the various milestones:

The good news is that people all over the world will be talking about climate change and that’s helpful to getting more folks involved. The more people become involved (please tell everyone you know to become involved) the sooner we can demand that leaders do something to solve the problem.

If the 3.5 degree goal is agreed upon and implemented then that’s a good thing too, it’s a start and obviously a possible improvement over where we’ve been heading.

China, the world’s largest producer of CO2, is expected to set goals to cap its carbon emissions and emphasize green energy solutions for its power grid.

Brazil will announce that it will become the first major developed country on the planet that will reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions (Brazil, by the way,  has one of the world’s strongest commitments to using solar power… something Florida and the United States needs to dramatically improve upon).

And at a time when we not only need new leadership and laws to solve this problem we need ‘Uber’ or smart phone like new solutions, new inventions, that will provide new technology to replace fossil fuels. That’s why someone so innovative as Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, announcing that he will establish a multi-billion dollar research program to find new climate change technologies is an important part of COP21.

As with all things sea level rise and global warming, much work remains to break-through the politics and special interest that stand in the way to truly solving the problem and something tells me that those challenges will continue over my entire lifetime.


United Nation’s World Climate Project Workshop

Speaking of COP21, I want to share that I am honored to participate in the U.N.’s World Climate Project workshop that is being hosted by the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science on December 5th. Dream in Green, for which I serve as one of their “Dream in Green ambassadors,”  has selected 14 students from seven schools in Miami-Dade County to participate as climate advisors to students from Breakthrough Miami and Frost Science’s Upward Bound program. The event is being conducted in concert with the  COP21 United Nations climate negotiation taking place in Paris and aims to give students the opportunity to work in teams, represent countries around the world, and learn how to negotiate climate agreements that will stabilize global temperatures. The project is an initiative by the White House to provide resources to organizations to help people engage in thought-provoking, mock-UN events that simulate the United Nations climate talks. 

The program involves 180 middle and high school students participating in Upward Bound and Breakthrough Miami’s programs that will participate in the negotiations. Students will get to experience what it feels like to negotiate a climate agreement with the goal of keeping global temperatures from increasing 2 degrees celsius. Through meeting with real climate scientists and consulting with their climate advisors, the students will gain the ability to discuss environmental issues, as well as learn more about the topic and how it is effecting the world that they live in.

The Seas Are Rising And So Are We!


As I walked across the street from a parking garage to a lush park in downtown Miami I was overcome with joy at what I saw. An amazing sight of colors and sounds that leads me to know that South Florida cares. More people than I’ve ever seen together in one place, at one time, with the common goal of attacking the serious issues of climate change and sea level rise.

As I wrote last month, it is my belief that the recent budget hearings for Miami-Dade County marked a turning point in our community because of the diversity of citizens who appeared before the Commission demanding that our local governement take action to combat sea level rise. But that turnout was nothing compared to the People’s Climate Movement March that took place last week here in downtown Miami. Over 1,000 people from all over South Florida, young and old and of every color and culture our incredible community enjoys marched together on the night of October 14th on the streets demanding change. And I was proud to be with them.

The night was inspiring and also a whole lot of fun. People chanted for ‘Climate Justice‘, a phrase I’d not heard of before but one that most certainly illustrates that people of all sorts of social backgrounds are being impacted by climate change and that if we do not act, many will be displaced.

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We also chanted that ‘the seas are rising and so are we‘ and the governement could not have helped hearing us because the rally that proceeded the March took place in the park adjacent to the Miami-Dade Government Center building. County leaders including Commissioner Daniella Cava, Chief of MiamiDade County’s Office of Sustainability Nicole Hefty, and the Mayor’s very recently appointed James Murley, Miami Dade’s first ever Chief Resilience Officer, amongst others saw the park overflowing with people demanding change and could clearly hear speaker after speaker asking for solutions. Signs and banners and even costumes helped drive home the point that people want change and we want it to start NOW.

I’ve never walked in a March before, but I must say that it was inspiring. Inspiring to see policitcal leaders from all over our community (Pinecrest’s Mayor Lerner was there, so too, was my friend and South Miami Mayor, Dr. Stoddard), renewoned scientists, business owners, educators, doctors, artists, activists, lawyers, musicians, farmers and farm workers, as well as children of all ages from all over the region came together for a common cause and concern.

It was also inspiring because of the energy that we, together, produced. Energy that I am now certain will result in change. Energy that represents votes and voices that will demand being heard and helped. The issue of climate change, and especially sea level rise in our community, can no longer be overlooked. The future of our community and our environment are at risk, but so too are political leaders who do not take the concerns of people, concerns based on extensive science, to heart.


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To read an article from the Miami Herald on the March, please click here! To read a recent editorial about the March by my friend and mentor, the ever so encouraging and inspiring Caroline Lewis, founder of The CLEO Institute, please click here! On a personal note I want to share that from the look on her face, the happy tears in her eyes, that Caroline, a woman long on the often lonely front lines of our region’s sea level discussion, could also sense that things are changing for the better. She’d be the first to say that we have a long way to go, but that the March was a vivid sign of progress. On behalf of all of us here in South Florida, most certainly the youth that she so eagerly leads as an educator, thank you Caroline for your constant inspiration.

To all of those who marched with me last week, thank you. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your energy. Thank you for giving so many so much hope that, together, we can address sea level rise and, in doing so, protect our environment, economy, lifestyle and each other. There is much work ahead and most of the decisions will be costly ones, but I am confident that we can mitigate this problem while our world seeks solutions to end our dependency on fossil fuels. March on South Florida and, remember, The Seas Are Rising And So Are We’.

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