Santa Told Me He’s Concerned About Climate Change

Traditions are important to my family and me.

That’s certainly true during the holidays, especially Christmas.

How we decorate our home each year. Walking to church for candlelight service on Christmas Eve. How my brother Owen and I wait for each other to go downstairs together on Christmas morning with dad always at the foot of the stairs filming our first few minutes of excitement. These traditions and countless others help define our family and are childhood memories that I will never forget and, I am sure, one day share with my own children.

Writing a letter to Santa over the years and then visiting him at our local mall only to find that he had received those letters, that he had them in that little mailbox that sat next to his chair and knew our names and what we’d asked for are especially vivid memories and, I dare say, part of the magic of the holiday that we hold dear in our hearts.

And speaking of those memories and that magic, something new and remarkable happened yesterday that I want to share with you. It’s part tradition and also has a bit of magic blended in but is also a sign of our times and the importance that no matter who you are, or where you live, that our warming climate is a concern to just about everyone.

You see, just as we were about to leave our home for the theater to see the Nutcracker ballet (another annual tradition) my cell phone rang with a Facetime request from a number I’ve never seen. Mom and dad encouraged me to answer it and I was then surprised to be looking at the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, who with a robust Ho Ho Ho announced that he was calling to wish Owen and me a Merry Christmas.

OK, I have to admit that at first I was surprised and a bit speechless.

And while I was trying to wrap my mind around the call, what I was seeing and how much he knew about Owen and me, the next thing I knew Santa was telling me how concerned he is about climate change and its impact on the North Pole. One second we were talking about school and Christmas and the next he was asking what they can do to protect his homeland from melting, from disappearing, how solar power is a good start and how easy it is to store the power of the sun in batteries over those long winter nights we’ve all read about.

Santa talked with Owen and I about some other things including his reindeer, Owen’s singing and acting and such but what I can’t get out of my mind was his concern over our environment. It seems that even legendary, mythical figures are concerned about our warming climate and how we solve this crisis before it’s too late. And that call, and especially his concern, just goes to further define the term Christmas Magic.

So from our home to you and your family and friends, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza. And remember, Santa is not only watching all of us to see if we are naughty or nice but to see how we each treat this special place where we live, planet earth, so that his home in the North Pole, like mine here in South Florida, will be around for future generations of children to love and cherish.

Portugal. The Man: Trust the Native Alaskans

My friend John Gourley is, by his own admission, not a scientist. He is, however, a Native Alaskan and is today the lead singer of one of the most popular alternative rock bands on the planet: Portugal. The Man.

I had the opportunity to hang out with John after his recent set during Riptide Music Festival on Ft. Lauderdale Beach and I think his comments are some of the most important that I’ve ever shared with readers of my blog and am pleased to share part of my interview with you.

Before becoming the lead singer of a world famous rock band, John spent his childhood in rural Alaska. His childhood in the 80’s and 90’s was much different in many ways than for kids growing up in a big city like Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. While he did not have internet or Netflix or other modern devices, he filled his time skateboarding, snowboarding, exploring the outdoors, and tending to his family’s pack of Iditarod racing (mushing) sled dogs.

John knows and loves the Alaskan outdoors, but he is deeply concerned that it is disappearing before his and his friends very eyes because of climate change.

Alaska is a challenging state because it is filled with so much abundant nature and as John says, “it’s easy to overlook the impact of climate change while there is still so much rural environment remaining”.  It’s also challenging because the oil industry has a significant stake in producing and then transporting their products, but John knows that the Alaska that he loves is melting away and he told me that he worries about what will be left of that magnificent place when his daughter grows up as “more of the coastline melt[s] away”. Speaking of coastline, the state of Alaska has the largest amount of coastline of any state in the United States and Florida, including that beach where John’s band performed, has the second most coastline.

John’s message is a strong one and includes the suggestion that we listen to people in places like Alaska who are living with the impact of climate change right now, people like John and his friends, and especially indigenous people like Native Alaskans. As John explained, “It’s easy to be ignorant to this stuff or naive and just not see it, but trust somebody who’s been around it and grew up in a place that you think is cold. It’s not cold year-round anymore. Alaska’s not cold anymore. Trust the Native Alaskans. People who have been there for thousands and thousands of years.”

Almost two years ago I had the honor of giving a keynote address at the Florida Atlantic University Sea Level Rise Summit: Alaska to Florida after which I received a standing ovation and later learned that some in attendance actually cried while listening to my comments. At that time I could not fully understand the reaction or the emotion from the several hundred esteemed professionals that were in attendance – scientists, educators, and policy makers including many who had flown in from Alaska for the symposium. That is until yesterday when John portrayed so vividly what he has been seeing and explained it as if it were one of his songs.

John talked, for example, about the city of Shishmaref, Alaska and how climate change there is obvious to the naked eye; I mean that’s where you really see the effects of climate change. That’s where you see the permafrost melting, you see the island melting… it’s just an island and you see it melting away into the water and you see houses falling into the water.”

Like John said, he’s not a scientist but that does not mean that he doesn’t have eyes or want to see the climate change crisis addressed for himself, his daughter, and future generations. When asked about climate change and sea rise, Florida’s governor Rick Scott also says that he’s not a scientist but he does this to avoid talking about what’s happening to our state. And yet non-scientist Governor Scott leads a state where places like Miami Beach ($450 million) and the City of Miami ($200 million) are spending huge sums of money to begin addressing the sea level rise problems caused by our global climate change crisis that people all over South Florida – most of which, I might add, are also not scientists either – see with their own eyes and leads me to ask and wonder why ‘leaders’ like Governor Scott avoid this so very important issue. It can only be because of politics and that, in my view, is terribly shortsighted given that the climate change crisis is likely the biggest issue that my generation will ever face.

Pretending to not see what’s happening does not solve the problem, because climate change is not about donkeys or elephants, red states or blue ones, it’s much more important than politics.

As John said about what he’s been seeing and why we must set politics aside and focus on solutions before its too late, “It’s not normal. It’s something that we’ve all seen. Just leave the political views aside and just look at science and just trust it. Science is based on fact. Politics are based on the guy down the street that paid me to give a speech. Don’t let politics be a part of it.”

As I said at the end of my interview with John, I can’t say it any better than that, nor agree more. Rock on Portugal. The Man, and thanks again, John, for being so passionate and public about this important topic.

To learn more about Portugal. The Man, please check out the Miami New Times article      and while you at it consider listing to some of their most excellent music.

Fall Forward

“In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water.  They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him.  

Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings.  In vain he tried to keep his promise.  Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below.  

Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number. The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation which we call death is no proof that they cease to exist.”

The Dragonfly Story

By Walter Dudley Cavert

Do you know the feeling when you walk into a room and there’s that one person who fills up the place with his or her energy?

That person who everyone is drawn to and no matter what they are talking about, their thoughts and passions are contagious to the point that you want to meet them and become involved?

That’s my friend Hudson Lowe.


I met Hudson in Downtown Miami in 2015 at Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality training. We, along with about 1,000 people from all over the world, spent three glorious days together studying the science of climate change with many of the planet’s leading experts. At the time I was a 15 year old Sophomore in High School and Hudson a Freshman at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Immediately I could tell Hudson was a difference maker. Someone who would change the world. As Lin Manuel Miranda writes about Alexander Hamilton in his perfect play, Hamilton, ‘The man was non-stop’.

One idea after another came out of Hudson from the minute I met him and did not stop during the three days we spent together. Honestly, I’d never met anyone like him. He was smart and interesting and while I am often reserved and quiet, he was outgoing and instantly drew a large crowd of other young people to him that created a group that during those three days were inseparable. Together we knew we would change the world and it was obvious that Hudson would help lead the way.


I found Hudson to be fun and funny while also being serious and concerned at the exact same time. He also made it clear how much he loved music and so it did not surprise me when in the midst of talking about the serious impacts of climate change to our future that he announced to me “Let’s make a rap video about climate change together’.   In honor of Hudson and the fun we had here’s our quick creation;

His enthusiasm and concern for climate change aside, I was impressed by how much my new friend had accomplished at such a young age. To call his accomplishments impressive is an understatement. In High School he’d founded the Ocoee Green Initiative which not only had an impact on his community but led to his school being honored by the Green School Recognition program. He’d traveled to Iceland as part of the Green Program, a student sustainability project and, like me, he knew that solar power should be installed everywhere so it was no surprise that while still in High School he made a presentation to the Orange County School Board to ask them to install solar panels on area schools. And he told me how he’d place stickers on the light switches all over his school, and pretty much anywhere else, reminding people to turn off the lights while instilling sustainability into their minds and lives.

And just like the work I do with The Sink or Swim Project, Hudson told me about how much he loved lecturing at elementary schools and educating children about climate change. As you can imagine, meeting someone my age that was doing the same type of work I was doing made a significant impression on me and gave me hope that I was not alone. In Hudson I knew that our generation had another soldier, a leader, to help spread the word and to demand the changes our society needs.

In college as an engineering student his interests and passions only grew. He joined FAU’s Mission Green Association program, its Ideas for Us, traveled to Vietnam and Hong Kong as part of a global leadership program,  and even found time to intern at the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management.  Taking rigorous classes in a challenging major would be plenty for most students, but not Hudson. He was out to change the world and was doing it with great gusto.


Over the years since we met in 2015 I’ve thought a lot about Hudson, about his passion to be involved in so many different and important initiatives and how he inspired everyone he met. And I’ve especially thought about him nearly every day since learning of his passing late this summer, knowing he died at a far too young an age, yet had an impact that will last a lifetime and beyond.

Over the last few months I’ve tried hard to find the words to express both my sorrow over his loss and my appreciation for his friendship but Thanksgiving strikes me as a good time to thank Hudson for who he is and always will be in my mind and heart. It’s also what Hudson would want, to have me and all who knew him to “Fall Forward“.

And so to his dad Randy, mom Chris, and sisters Dakota and Delaney, thank you for raising such a fine young difference maker and leader. The world needs more Hudson Lowe’s to solve our climate crisis, to lead the way in treating people with kindness and to inspire our generation to be actively involved in making this place we call home, our planet, a better place.

To Hudson and the Lowe family, and to everyone else, Happy Thanksgiving.

To learn more about my friend Hudson Lowe and his lasting legacy, please visit the organization founded in his honor:, as well as follow them on instagram:

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