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With the Support of Pharrell, Climate Action is a Hot Topic this Winter

nasa_2014NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record Image: NASA

Posted 8 February 2015 - by Carol Brighton

It has been 50 years since the first known presidential warning on CO2 pollution. Smoldering in scientific circles for more than the last half century, the climate threat created by burning fossil fuels has waxed and waned in the public eye. With big price tags connected to more frequent climate disrupting events, concern is mounting. Even climate deniers recognize that coastal communities are now suffering from more frequent nuisance and storm flooding. As a result, the topic of climate has been heating up meeting rooms in Virginia and around the world. Spearheading a campaign to raise climate awareness and drive action is non other than famed pop-icon and Virginia Beach native, Pharrell Williams.

With over 10,000 miles of tidal shoreline, more than any of the lower 48 states, Virginia residents sit on the frontline of climate change related sea level rise. Due to reasons discussed more fully here, the rate of sea level rise along the mid-Atlantic is accelerating at unprecedented rates.  With the world’s largest naval installation and critical commercial port facilities, the impacts of rising seas on Virginia infrastructure will have far reaching impacts. As some models project a 6.5 feet rise in sea levels or more by the end of the century, the Commonwealth sits in a very precarious position. Some 628,000 residents are thought to live on land elevations within 6.5 feet of sea level. The vast majority of these citizens reside in Hampton Roads cities. To address the warnings and recommendations of scientists, leaders from government, academia and NGOs met in Williamsburg last December to discuss adaptive planning for flooding and coastal change in Virginia.

At the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic's 2nd annual meeting at W&M to address climate change policy, the responsibility of government to act was one of many of the topics discussed. Virginia’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission organized by Governor McAuliffe to recommend actions that can be taken within the single term of his administration convend at the meeting and established specific working groups to focus on data generation, land use and transportation, carbon reduction from energy, financing adaptation strategies and public education. To oversee and coordinate these efforts, Virginia's first Chief of Resiliency Officer, Brian Moran, was welcomed as the leader of the Update Commission.

While Virginia leaders were grappling with climate change on a local level, negotiators representing close to 200 countries were in Lima, Peru to address the subject on a global scale. The Lima conference, the 20th of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change culminated with a universally approved resolution to move forward on climate action. The deal sets a framework for Paris talks in December that could produce an international protocol to limit green house gas emissions. Participating countries are to develop and submit proposals for individual action that will be included in global measures to be negotiated in Paris.

While the road to Paris is fraught with hurdles, history proves that global climatic agreements can be achieved and successfully implemented.  Over 25 years ago  the United States was a key negotiator of the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to cut emissions of  a commonly used and pervasive chemical found to destroy the earth’s ozone layer.  Stratospheric layers lacking in ozone at both poles known as holes allowed dangerous amounts of ultraviolet radiation to enter the atmosphere.  Growing year after year, scientific and public concern over the gaping holes  holes  spurred world leaders to sign on to phase out the chemical culprits, chlorofluorocarbons.  Today experts agree that the ozone layer is recovering.

At a meeting of world economic leaders, a climate initiative emerges as major news.

In January at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, Pharrell Williams caused a stir by directing the international spotlight onto climate concerns. Adding star power to galvanize public support and renew political will for climate action, a bold initiative was launched in front of a packed audience made up of the world's elite and most influential government and business leaders. Together with Former Vice President Al Gore and Emmy Award winning producer Kevin Wall, Williams announced a campaign to amplify the call for climate action. The trio are organizing a live event in June that will garner the participation of 2 billion people across all the continents. Over a hundred artists will take the stage June 18 in Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Sydney and Cape Town in what Wall describes as the largest event of its kind ever staged. An event by a band of scientists at an Antarctic research station is also scheduled. With live coveage by major TV and radio networks, Williams notes that "we are literally going to have humanity harmonize all at once."

The whole goal of the campaign is to drive substantive action in Paris this year. You can join the movement and voice your support at LiveEarth.org Now.





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