Natalia Ruiz

 Natalia Ortiz, Director of Development - CLEO Institute/ Photo courtesy of CLEO Institute

The scientific community has sounded the alarm warning us of our warming and changing climate.

Many of the world’s leading climate scientists, who are part of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued a report last October stating the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) as early as 2030 causing catastrophic impacts across the globe.

The reality is that 2018 was the 5th hottest year since record keeping began, and for us, in South Florida, and of course Key Biscayne, that has terrible implications. This means we will continue to suffer alarming rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion into our aquifers (which supply our drinking water), and more extreme weather events such as heat waves and more intense hurricanes to name a few.

In 2017, the amount of “weather related” disasters amounted to 306 billion dollars to the US economy. The Keys and west coast of Florida were severely impacted by Hurricane Irma, and our neighbors in Texas and the Caribbean felt the wrath of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria respectively.

Last year, the Carolinas faced Hurricane Florence and northern Florida was hit by Hurricane Michael (almost a Category Five storm) -- the most powerful in recorded history to strike the Florida Panhandle.

These headlines, including the algal bloom and red-tide crisis we have faced in our state, though sobering and overwhelming, should fuel our passion for change and taking action. It’s clearly established that our over dependence on fossil fuels directly correlates to the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and the rising of sea levels.

Urgent action is required from all sectors of society to tackle the climate crisis to ensure that we can continue to exist on this planet, the only one we’ve got. Our country, cities, and states must transition to a low-carbon economy. They must implement bold mitigation and adaptation policies that protect our livelihoods from a rapidly changing climate and get us future ready.

But this existential threat does not only fall on the hands of our elected leaders and policy makers. Fortune 500 companies must lead by example and significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from their buildings and supply chains.

Additionally, we -the people- must also do our part. We must use the power of our vote, the power of our voice, and the power of our purse, to send the signals needed for change to happen from the bottom up and from the top to bottom. Because solutions do exist. In fact, more than 80 existing solutions are available today, and 20 more are coming down the pipeline, that would stabilize the heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere to levels that reverse global warming.

If you are worried about more intense hurricanes coming our way, or our coral reefs in Florida being bleached, or beaches being closed due to the red-tide or water pollution, or the quality of air you breathe and the water you and your family drinks, or just worried that rising sea levels may affect the value of your property, do something about it.

CLEO Institute Earth action suggestions:

1- Sign the Florida Climate Pledge.

2- Attend a CLEO Institute “Climate Change 101” training.

3- Reduce your carbon footprint.