Friday, 13 May 2016

Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project

Peace Corps Volunteer Dana Jordan, Manila, Philippines
Over 700 participants from 58 countries attended The Climate Reality Project hosted by former US Vice President Al Gore. This three day conference and training happened at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City, Manila, during March 2016. The Grand Ballroom was absolutely buzzing-over with anticipation from excited guests, and I nearly fell out of my seat when Al Gore came on stage just a few feet away from where I was sitting! I was immediately captivated by his energetic presence and charming smile. This brilliant story teller is probably the leading authority worldwide on global Climate Change issues. Mr. Gore is the chairman of The Climate Reality Project, and everyday he is updated with photos and research from around the world concerning either catastrophic weather occurrences or solutions promoting sustainability. After attending this three day training, I feel more aware of Climate Change issues and where we are all headed as one world! We have a hopeful future ahead of us regarding solar, wind, and other renewable energy, but according to Mr. Gore the time to kick the fossil fuel addiction is NOW. 

The Grand Ball Room at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City
Over the course of three days attendees listened to Filipino and International speakers on a variety of topics and attended break-out sessions. The Mayor of Tacloban, Mr. Alfred Romualdez, shared an emotional story about his experience during  and after Typhoon Yolanda  - the strongest wind-storm to hit Earth (November 8, 2013). Mr. Romualdez’s teenage daughter was nearly swept away in a fast moving current along a city street. The young girl was forced to cling to a lamp post for more than two hours until help arrived. Rodne Galicha was also an inspirational speaker. This young Filipino man shared his vision for a more sustainable Philippines and is the new branch manager for The Climate Reality Project in Makati – one of ten branches around the globe. Mr. Galicha comes from an island in the Philippines that is currently getting 100% of its energy from a hydro-power plant. He explained that for Earth Hour (March 19, 2016) every household on his island intended to leave all the lights on to celebrate their achievement in clean renewable energy.

Former US Vice President Al Gore lecturing
It is important that the Philippines – a country of approximately 60% coastline – take strong and immediate action to build resiliency in regards to changing weather conditions. The Philippines is the number one country expected to be affected by Climate Change, and the former US Vice President stated that “sea level in the Philippines is projected to rise two to three times faster than the global average (Al Gore, Personal Communication, 2016).” This is why it is incredibly necessary and vital that Filipino communities work with their Local Government Unit (LGU) and other emergency groups such as the MDRMMO and PDRMMO to create strong Climate Change Action Plans and to not build within 200 feet of the water in the coastal communities.

My personal snap-shot of Mr. Gore on the go!
Participants at The Climate Reality Project were grouped by region, and at my table I sat with attendees from all over Panay – an island located in the Western Visayas. Coincidentally, I met a man from the same community as mine – San Jose de Buenavista, Antique – where I serve as a  Peace Corps Volunteer under the Environment sector. Mr. Bong Sanchez, an Environmental and Human Rights Activist has become an inspiration to me with his own work fighting for Climate Justice. We have been able to meet and collaborate since our first meeting in Manila. Each participant had his or her own story to share, and we discussed our projects, ideas, and solutions for three days in small group break out sessions. I was impressed throughout the conference! The venue was easily accessible and incredibly luxurious - the grounds were lovely with cemented pathways meandering through a landscaped garden and over looking a palm-lined Manila Bay. But more importantly, I was impressed with the organization of the event, and that the conference made efforts to be 100% waste free! For example, each participant received a binder printed on 100% recycled paper, durable and yet bio-degradable! Efforts were made to buy local ingredients and the menu all week was meat free! (Food production and food transport are large contributors to CO2 emissions, especially where the meat industry is concerned.)

Love this! It's 100% recycled paper!
The Climate Reality Project has changed my life. I sat and listened to this visionary speak of his dream for the world alongside people from all over this planet who believe we can have a better future than the present one we are currently traveling down. Al Gore united people – complete strangers – from 58 countries – men and women from places I will never have a chance to travel to. I did not realize how attached I was to this vision for a renewable and sustainable Earth until I listened to him speak.  I have a calling in life and that is to Teach for Ecological Consciousness and Change. This is how I can aid this movement and do my part. This calling has brought me to the Philippines where I have lived and served for three years in the community of San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. I have missed precious time with my family in the US to not only share my knowledge and skills, but to learn from Filipinos new ways of recycling and sustainable living. Filipinos are making remarkable efforts in growing organic food and keeping it local! This experience has been an opportunity for me to grow professionally and spiritually. Al Gore reminded me of my commitment to service, and of a deeper commitment to this Earth and to people which I serve on this planet.

Sunset over Manila Bay at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila
I left this event exhausted. (Al Gore can talk!) And I returned to my home in San Jose knowing that I am, in fact, part of an extensive world movement and collective of world Environment leaders. Every nation is joining together in this battle – to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel use. Al Gore has challenged me to get involved deeper - by committing myself to 10 Acts of Leadership to be completed this year. 

Are you interested in attending The Climate Reality Project as well? I totally recommend it! And if you are a CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER then you should definitely attend! This project is offered 4 times a year by Mr. Gore and his staff in different locations around the globe. 

My selfie with Mr. Gore! I had to contortion my body in uncomfortable ways to get this photo! 

This three day conference was held at the Sofitel Hotel - a luxurious 5 star hotel in Manila

Me! Empowered and following my dreams in Teaching for Ecological Consciousness and Change

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully someday I can go with you ma'am to teach.