I was accepted to this conference! Yay! I’ve been wanting to post on it, and this morning I got the perfect email really explaining it perfectly. So here it is. This text below is entirely from Mario Molina. If YOU would like to a part of this project, head on over to https://www.climaterealityproject.org!
The Climate Reality Project created the Climate Reality Leadership Corps to build a global network of people who want to effect real change – and give them the tools to do just that. The program is made up of skilled, motivated people from all walks of life, in regions where they can make a real difference in the movement for climate solutions.
By holding our next Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Florida, we aim to mobilize and equip citizen activists to join efforts to move both the state and the US towards meaningful action on climate change leading up to the 21st Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris later this year and beyond.
Why Florida? In many respects, the state represents the frontline of the fight for climate solutions. Miami has one of the highest capital assets risk profiles of any city in the world, due to the density of its population and concentration of wealth near its coastline. Conservative estimates put Miami’s current risk exposure at $416 billion (USD) in the case of a 100-year flood. Flood losses could potentially top $3 trillion annually by 2070 under current sea-level rise projections. In addition, salt-water contamination of the state’s fresh water supply and extreme flooding events are significant and immediate risks.
Despite these imminent risks, some of Florida’s elected officials continue to express skepticism about the science of climate change, and news reports indicate that state agencies have previously been instructed to avoid terms like “climate change” or “global warming.” In contrast, cities, businesses, universities, and citizens’ groups across Florida are calling for more aggressive action on climate change, including support for the Clean Power Plan, an open market for renewable energy, and investments in resiliency.
Against this backdrop, Climate Reality will host an intensive three-day training event in Miami from September 28-30, 2015. The event will convene activists, social influencers, and decision makers from civil society, local government, and media sectors to learn how they can play an instrumental role in building support for climate action in Florida in beyond. Attendees will join leading scientists, entrepreneurs, and communications professionals for workshops highlighting what climate change means for Florida and the US, breakthroughs in clean energy and other solutions, and best practices in organizing and outreach. In addition, attendees will also learn how to tell the story of climate change and solutions from former US Vice President Al Gore and other experts, using the presentation that became the award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Global warming projections for Florida indicate that the state could see sea levels rise by three to five feet or more and experience some of the most dramatic heat increases in the nation. The state is also expected to see precipitation become both heavier and more sporadic, intensifying drought-flood cycles and increasing the risk of extreme flooding during storms. The consequences of these impacts extend well beyond the natural environment as rising seas in low-lying areas will threaten tourism, real estate, and fresh water supply due to salt-water intrusion. The estimated lost tourism revenue alone due to these impacts could be in the range of $50 to $178 billion per year by mid to late century.
The experience of forward-looking cities and countries shows that early investments in resiliency can mitigate some of the costs associated with sea-level rise and extreme weather events. Worldwide, many local governments are adopting low-carbon technologies and investing in resilient infrastructure to prepare for the impacts of climate change and avoid devastating costs.
Despite the Florida government’s skeptical view on climate science, counties and city partners participating in the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact have agreed to make climate change projections a strategic consideration in their planning. Resulting initiatives include investments such as the $300 million that Miami Beach is investing to install new pumping stations for its stormwater management system; plans for a surface water reservoir; and restoration of natural ecosystems such as mangroves and natural coastline to mitigate the impacts of storm surges.
While these initiatives represent significant investments, their costs pale in comparison to the potential damage the state could suffer without them. As well as helping prevent catastrophic costs, comprehensive climate policies can also help stimulate economic growth. If Florida embraces such policies, the state could unlock real investment potential in renewable energy and resiliency projects that not only help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also support local economies and create jobs along the way.
Florida is a key state in unlocking the power of clean energy solutions for the Southeastern US; it has the third-highest solar generating capacity potential in the country, but is not even in the top ten in production. In fact, New Jersey (despite being a smaller, less-sunny state) installed more solar capacity just last year than Florida has in its history.
Unfortunately, Florida is hampered by poor – or lacking – renewable energy policies. It is one of only four states with laws prohibiting citizens from purchasing electricity from third-party suppliers that are not utilities. Environmental activists and some Tea Party members are working to try to change this law through a ballot initiative next year. Together, these groups can truly make Florida the Sunshine State once again.
If Florida embraces solar power, the state can create jobs and supply renewable, clean energy to millions of homes. Nationwide employment in the solar installation sector grew by 120 percent between 2010 and 2014. Sixteen percent of solar jobs are held by Latinos.
RAISING THE LATINO VOICE
As the fastest-growing demographic in the state, Latinos have a critical role to play in driving climate action and the importance of their voice can’t be overstated. Latinos make up 23 percent of the population in Florida and represent the third-largest Latino population of any state in the US. In the 2012 federal election. Recent surveys indicate climate change is second in importance only to immigration reform for Latinos. Ninety percent favor action on climate change and 86 percent are in favor of regulating carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.
We believe that by attending the Miami training, hundreds of new Climate Reality Leaders like you will have the knowledge and tools to build public awareness of our shared climate challenge and – most important – drive regional action for solutions.
If you have questions about the training, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – and I look forward to meeting you in Miami.
Mario E. Molina
Director, Climate Reality Leadership Corps