A Message From The President

November 2019

Last month Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, founder of Davis College and the Akilah Institute, spoke on the intersectionality of gender, education and the environment. She noted that among the top ten most substantive solutions to climate change, global scientists rank the education of women and girls as number six. She also shared that Davis Collage and Akilah consider sustainability a career competency, requiring all students to take sustainability courses; their curriculum is founded in the reality and opportunity that adaptation to climate change is projected to create 60 million new jobs by 2030.

Elizabeth’s parting comment was a quote from one her students, “In America, you are busy debating the science and politics of climate change. In Africa, we already experience it every day, and we are redesigning our societies for this new reality.”

This quote leads us to November’s program of thought leaders on Climate Change. Our panelists represent the Florida Climate Reporting Network and its coalition of newsrooms from around the state that are collaborating to report on the effects of changing climate factors across the state. This is groundbreaking work to help us see how Florida citizens, cities, and industry are experiencing climate change – and how they are responding with research and innovation.

The conversation will be led by Indira Lakshmanan, executive editor of the Pulitzer Center in D.C., who observes that “While Washington argues about climate change, Florida is already experiencing its effects.” She will be joined by three panelists: Tampa Bay Times editor Mark Katches, Miami Herald editor and publisher Mindy Marqués Gonzáles, and Bill Varian, business editor and Tampa Bay Time’s point person for The Florida Climate Reporting Network.

Climate change intersects every aspect of our day-to-day existence, including our livelihoods, cities, transportation, health, as well as the looming food crisis. This is national and international news as well.

Florida is viewed by many around the country as ground zero – not only for the projected erosion of our connected coastline, but as the home of the Florida Everglades, a unique neotropic ecozone found nowhere else on earth. A world treasure similar to the Amazon rainforests, it contributes to our local economy, while influencing ecological balance globally.

How we respond to meet our community needs through education, sustainability, and innovation is critical. Our panelists will share with us how communities throughout Florida are experiencing climate change, how they are responding, and how we might collaborate to meet the challenges that will confront us.

As Elizabeth illustrated, education on sustainability will become a key metric for local and regional development, industrial and agricultural adaptation, transportation, and civic infrastructure investments that will need to be coordinated in new and innovative ways in the years to come. All will be based on a clear understanding of Florida’s emerging climate science conditions, and solid research and education that will underpin an evolving situation.

It is an honor that the Pulitzer Center chose our upcoming Athena meeting as the first public appearance for the collaborative initiative between the Pulitzer Center and the Florida Climate Reporting Network.