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Wakey, wakey, wakey world, listen to our youth on climate change and collaborate on solutions…

  • December 17, 2019 1:22 PM
    Message # 8308093
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I love going to the Shedd Aquarium (have sponsored CGCC field trips, too), and my favorite thing to see at the Shedd are the hydroponic coral reefs.  Kudos to Shedd researcher Ross Cunning who is trying to find “corals that can survive warming ocean temperatures.*” Journalist Steve Johnson wrote a really interesting piece on the camaraderie developed while traveling to the Bahamas to collaborate on Cunnings' research mission.

    I did not know that the Shedd owned a research boat, the Coral Reef II.  I have to say I enjoyed this article because Johnson took me back to my journey to Antarctica on the Akademik Ioffe ten years ago.  Back then, we, too, rose early, and also headed out “on little boats all the time” to explore the consequences of climate change.  Indeed, my favorite part of the mission was riding in the zodiacs to look for birds, leopard seals and penguins, and chart the resilience of the brilliant ice.

    Sir Robert Swan, a polar explorer, led our 2009 expedition.  There were approximately 100 people on the Akademik Ioffe, worldwide participants from Britain, Pakistan, China, Canada, South Africa, Germany, and the Netherlands.  I was one of four teachers (some politicians, but mostly forward thinking businessmen), and maybe one of a handful of Americans on that trip.  We were open to experiencing other cultures and generating ideas to cool the planet. I forged enduring relationships with friends and colleagues from many places, but most notably China and South Africa.  To this day, I support a South African school, Sumbandila, founded by my roommate on the ship, Leigh Bristow.  Translated, Sumbandila means "show the way."

    So, I take two phrases from my journey.  The first is “wakey, wakey, wakey,” the three rousing words I heard at 6 am each morning on the Akademik Ioffe.  The second is “show the way,” and of course, they relate to each other. 

    I have confidence in our youth to act on the climate crisis.  Many have been galvanized by Greta Thunberg, the youngest person to receive Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the year award.  Greta has made decisive gains in creating awareness on climate change and calling for urgent action.  We are doing fairly well on the “wakey, wakey, wakey” leg of resolving climate change, but we are falling short on collaboration and action.”  I have faith that the great minds on the planet, like Ross Cunning, are seeking solutions.  Now, we have to get communities on board to follow scientific recommendations, and slowly, we are doing so.  A few days ago, the New York Times recognized the remarkable, collaborative benefits made once leaders implement and share ideas, reporting that Denmark has passed on to “China’s electric grid operators what it has learned about how to operate a grid with lots of variable wind power.  When tiny Denmark uses more wind, the impact on global emissions is minuscule; when China does, the effect can be enormous.” ** True progress, collaboration, and “show[ing] the way” towards action.

    In the CGCC community, a very significant “show the way” forum is our upcoming Kids Climate Summit.   We hope that you and your students or you and your families will participate in the Summit, held at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy on May 2, 2020.  I am excited to collaborate with anyone interested in participating and am deeply appreciative of those who have signed up to submit proposals (last day to submit is 1/16) and support the Summit.  After working with youth presenters at middle school conferences for many years, I have confidence that Summit participants will foster change and help “show the way.”

    Thank you for your support, thank you for your consideration, and thank you for helping us “show the way.”  Anthropologist Margaret Mead summed up the power we all have to spark change, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    Cheers and happy holidays to all!

    *Johnson, S,  (December 16, 2019).  Life on Shedd’s coral reef II:  Come for the science but don’t miss a meal.

    **Victor, David G.  (December 13, 2019).  We have climate leaders.  Now we need followers,

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