Thais Lopez Vogel, VoLo Foundation
For many women Mother’s Day is a time for celebration and joy, but for others, it is one of the most difficult days of the year.
This is especially true with the world under COVID-19’s shadow. Many have lost their parents, siblings, or other family members and the confinement has not made it any easier. For me in particular, the knowledge that a human health crisis and climate change have finally collided is worrisome.
Unlike the coronavirus, which captured global attention, concern about the climate crisis has not been fast and furious. However, like the virus, the environmental crisis is a deadly contagion that harms everyone regardless of race, gender or location.
In Florida, sea levels are projected to rise faster than the global average. Higher sea levels increase flooding. In Miami alone, flooding events have increased 400% since 2007. And that has led to saltwater intrusion of our drinking water. More than any other state, Florida is susceptible to damages from tropical storms and hurricanes.
We see harmful algal blooms causing outbreaks of paralytic shellfish poisoning resulting in liver, neurological, digestive, and skin diseases. Warmer conditions also favor the production and release of airborne allergens such as fungal spores. They, in turn, may exacerbate asthma, other allergic respiratory diseases, conjunctivitis and dermatitis. Children are particularly susceptible to allergy illnesses.
Last year The Lancet reported that a child born today will experience a world that is more than 4 degrees warmer than the preindustrial average, with climate change harming human health from infancy to adulthood. Children are among the worst affected by climate change and these effects accumulate over time, and into old age.
Rising temperatures will also affect food security because the warmer climate harms farmers’ efficiency. Increased heat and drought across Florida are projected to reduce livestock output and breeding productivity. As a mother of six, three adults, one teenager and twin toddlers, I want to leave a better future for them, as I’d think it’s every mother’s wish.
This pandemic is a worldwide dress rehearsal for the climate crisis. But now we know that humans can be inventive, focused, ingenious, and effective, when the desire is strong enough to solve a problem. When we align our love and compassion with scientific data, we can create, develop and implement systems and processes to solve major global challenges.
We have the technology and willpower to make a difference. Let’s use our voices and build a coalition as quickly as technology advances, respecting the principles of social, economic and gender justice along the way. Together we can create positive, practical and beneficial solutions for everyone and especially for our loved ones.
Thais Lopez Vogel is Co-founder/Trustee of VoLo Foundation, a nonprofit foundation focused on science-based climate solutions, education and health. For more information, visit: www.VoLoFoundation.org.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.