As voices about Climate Change start to be heard louder and clearer, from all political spectra, even if a President’s decision to take a world power – and leading polluter per capita – out a Climate Agreement, we must listen.

On September 18, Yale University hosted the - former Secretary of State - John Kerry Initiative at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. This  two-day conference on climate change, brought together an impressive group of speakers and panelists that included former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, California Governor Jerry Brown, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, General Electric Chair of the Board Jeffrey Immelt, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The main agenda for the event was not to discuss whether climate change is real or not – the consensus among the leading scientists in the world is unanimous. But, to see where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there, primarily in terms of energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy, to drive the global economy.

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Watching the conference on live streaming it is remarkable to see how dynamic things are at the moment. First, it makes one optimistic to see that the issue is starting to take central stage in the global discussion, exactly as the devastation caused by recent hurricanes requires from a mature global community: to understand what happened, why it happened and what we need to change to intervene in this devastating pattern of destruction. Second, it raises our optimism as a world community to see more and more powerful voices taking over the vacuum created by a misinformed world leader – President Trump, who decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement, as governors and mayors in US cities pledged their commitment. The Paris Agreement, signed in December 2015, was a global commitment by 195 countries to make changes to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade to address the climate change crisis. In parallel, we see leading businesses moving forward with strategic changes that will not only ensure efficiency, but also reduce their carbon footprint and increase their profits.

How about us, the public? According to Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, we are not as homogeneous as we seem. In fact, as far as climate change is concerned, we are divided into 6 groups: there are the alarmed (about 16% of the public) who are certain that climate change is happening, are eager to do something and be part of the solution, yet don’t have enough guidance to address it and make the necessary changes. There are the concerned (about 29%) who may see the effects and devastation caused by climate change, but since the changes are not affecting their lives, or the lives of their family, or their community, it is not a priority to do something about it. The third group are the cautious (about 25%) who are listening to the ‘arguments’ about whether climate change is real or not, if it is happening or not, if it is caused by humans or not, and whether it is serious or not, and are waiting for a consensus to decide where they stand on the issue. The disengaged (about 8%) have heard about climate change but don’t know anything about it. The doubtfuls (about 13%) don’t think climate change is happening at all, they think it is a natural phenomenon that has nothing to do with human activity, so there is nothing that humans can do about it and therefore, for them, it is not a problem. Finally, the dismissive (about 8%) are firmly committed that climate change is not happening, certainly not caused by humans, and it is probably a conspiracy theory or a hoax or a plot or that scientists are simply making up data. This last group, although very small, is very well organized and mobilized, dominating the public discourse, causing confusion as they serve some very powerful economic interests, like the fossil fuel industry.

In Israel the discussion on climate change is almost in existent. The government is busy with the threat of being whipped out by our enemies, and is working hard to purchase sophisticated systems to protect us – with a little kick off on the side for the people involved in the deals. The media is busy with other issues, with few exceptions. But, as natural disasters may be just around the corner threatening to affect our daily lives at a fundamental level – take drought and water supply shortage, for example, or rising temperatures and the effect is may have in, for example, forest fires – Israel is building up a carbon-dependent economy for the next 15 years. Instead of investing on the innovation potential of renewable energy through sun, wind, sea waves, and geothermal, among others, Israel is hooking itself to natural gas – a fossil fuel. In effect, it is giving the keys of the Israeli economy to the hands of a business consortium, who will decide the cost of electricity, production and our lifestyle, and will keep the country at a steady release of carbon dioxide to the earth's atmosphere for the next decade.

I want to be positive and optimistic like a friend who lives in the Negev. He is one of these enlightened architects who made green buildings an integral part of his practice as early as in the 1980s. He once told me: ‘It makes me happy to realize that I am not alone!’ He is right. One of the overwhelming messages sent out by the global community with the Paris Agreement, is that governments and businesses, cities and communities all over the globe are all together in fighting climate change!

If you want to join the global commnunity on Climate Change, I gladly share some links to get going on the climate change issues and challenges. I strongly recommend that you watch the videos and take notes, then google them to get more information. If you are already well into the subject, enjoy these videos.

Here are the links:

- The Yale Climate Conference livestream videos. They are truly inspiring, especially the one with Leonardo Di Caprio:  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujuFg71GT1E 

- Interview with Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, on Moyers & Company: http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/news-events/ending-the-silence-on-climate-change/

- Get a chance to watch the new documentary ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ with Al Gore, screened in September by ECOWEEK at the Jerusalem Cinemateque and Lev Dizengoff in Tel Aviv:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Inconvenient_Sequel:_Truth_to_Power

- Get a chance to watch the new documentary ‘Before the Flood’ with Leonardo Di Caprio to be released later this month: https://www.beforetheflood.com/

- I strongly recommend that you also watch the documentaries that came out about a decade ago, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ with Al Gore and ‘The 11th Hour’ with Leonardo Di Caprio – that present more data and graphs - links to both:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Inconvenient_Truth
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_11th_Hour_(2007_film)

If you want to know more about the scientific facts or about what you can do, or how to get involved in making a (positive) change in your neighborhood or community, you can check out www.ecoweek.org (we have compiled links and bibliography under ‘I LEARN’ on the menu).

Here is a favorite of my eldest daughter Maya: try out your carbon footprint and understand how and what it means to make changes to your everyday routine and how it affects energy use and pressure on global resources (for example, try out changing the size of your vehicle, or your home, or how many times you travel per year, and you will understand the impact each choice has on the planet):
http://www.amalnet.k12.il/Sustainability/Design/%D7%98%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A2%D7%AA+%D7%A8%D7%92%D7%9C+%D7%90%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%92%D7%99%D7%AA/%D7%A9%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%9F

What is most significant is to learn the facts and try to make meaningful choices. But, most important, remember that you are not alone. We are all together in this, because Climate Change is everyone's business! 

 


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