How can people get involved with the work the Cleo Institute does?
There are many programs that we offer for young people and adults at The CLEO Institute. We are always hosting webinars that you can attend to learn more. We also invite people to become climate speakers through our CLEO Speakers Network. The more people talk about this issue within their community and with family and friends, the more engaged they will become.
What is the biggest climate change threat?
I would say it’s heat. Heat is causing our ice to melt, intensifying extreme weather events, impacting our health, economy, and biodiversity. Look at what happened in the Bahamas last year with Hurricane Dorian, or the wildfires in Australia, the flooding in the midwest…the last five years have been the hottest on record! This should be worrying all of us. This is the reason we launched the Florida Climate Crisis campaign, to educate people on heat.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
We are always getting really bad news from our science community, and as a mom it’s hard to know what’s coming and what my kids will have to face if we don’t do more now. People often say that the next generation will do better, but the problem is that by the time the next generation can do something it will be too late. The last five years have been the hottest on record. Our parts per million of carbon dioxide haven’t been this high in over 800,000 years, so the time to act it now!
What advice would you give people just starting out in climate change awareness/the fight against climate change?
It’s a beautiful journey of self-discovery. You don’t have to be the perfect environmentalist, you just have to do what you can, and do it to the best of your ability. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. The question I always get is, what can I do? But the real question should be, what can I do next? We need to keep evolving and making this part of our lifestyle. We have to learn to respect and cherish what nature has given us and do our part to live in harmony with nature, not impose ourselves on her. There are a lot of emotional moments along the way, and that’s a good thing, that means you care. There’s a whole movement of people that need your support. We welcome you!
How do you stay optimistic and persistent in the fight against climate change?
Knowing that there are other people like me out there doing their part. We’re not alone in this fight. There’s a huge movement of people, nonprofits, elected officials, and companies out there fighting alongside us. I know that when people understand what’s at stake they become empowered. I always like to quote Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” I believe that most of us are good people, and when they understand what’s happening they want to do their part to become part of the solution.
Who inspires you and why?
My inspiration is the founder of CLEO, Caroline Lewis. She’s this amazing powerhouse that just moves people. She’s so passionate about this issue, that it’s impossible to turn away. She’s the reason I changed my career and joined CLEO.
Who has made an impact on your journey?
The kids in this movement. When I see teenagers marching for science, talking with commissioners, and writing letters to the media it’s mind blowing. When I was their age I was clueless about the world around me. These kids are incredibly educated and passionate. In a way they are holding the weight of our actions on their shoulders. They have impacted my journey in this movement in so many ways, and they’re a big part of what keeps me positive.
What change do you hope to see in the rest of 2020?
I want elected officials to stop playing politics with science. Science is science. We need to put people before profits and start behaving like adults. There are so many solutions that we can enact to save our economy, while protecting humanity and our biodiversity. COVID-19 has given us a chance to “return to a better normal,” and we all need to do our part to be part of this. We can’t keep “passing the buck” to the next generation. The buck has to stop here, with us.