PROJECT TO INVESTIGATE AND REPORT ON COMMUNITY BASED EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
According to the consensus of the world’s leading climatologists, we are quickly reaching a “no return” stage whereby the ability of local, regional and national governments to restrain the addition of harmful greenhouse gases though regulation will be sharply limited. Evidence is mounting that powerful climatic changes has already had devastating impacts on the social, political, ecological and economic strata of communities throughout Central and South America. This proposed initiative intends to learn how these specific impacts are affecting community life region by region. Investigators will conduct direct interviews with community leaders, university researchers, business people, and local and regional government officials to attempt to comprehend the magnitude of the changes wrought upon distinct areas as a result of climate change.
The Lead Investigator for this initiative is Cliff Thaell. Mr. Thaell is a former president of the Florida Association of Counties (2004-05). He was the elected commissioner at-large of the Leon County (Tallahassee, Florida) Board of County Commissioners for 16 years. In that role, Mr. Thaell led the county towards a more sustainable future by helping to enact a 15 point Climate Action Plan, create an Office of Sustainability, organize and conduct two Climate Action Summits, join the international climate action organization, ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) establish one of the nation’s first municipal ordinances permitting homeowners to finance energy assistance improvements of the homes by borrowing against the tax deeds. Mr. Thaell served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties and was also the Elected Liaison to ICLEI.
Georjean Machulis will be Project Coordinator. Ms. Machulis has previously worked in Latin America as an Advisor to the Women in Development project assisting women in third world nations to organize economic cooperatives. She has a long history of working with women in business development projects and is co-owner of a small farm in San Bosque, Costa Rica in which she and her partners are working to develop an eco-tourism and farmer’s cooperative on 24 acres in the Central Highlands region between San Jose and the port city of Limon.
The Investigators who are currently in Chelem, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, will identify and contact leadership of community-based or grassroots groups throughout several countries in Latin America whose mission has been to confront the existing and potential ravages of climate change on their families. These countries will potentially include: Mexico, Hondurus, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. They will seek to understand the perceptions of leaders about what is and has already happened as a result of climatic changes to their livelihoods, their cultural traditions and their political institutions.
They will further a deeper understanding of the role that local, regional and even national governments have played or are intending to play to help people survive the changes wrought by persistent climate change, creating and employing “Adaptation Strategies” in partnership with local communities.
Through a dedicated website at www.cliffthaell.com, The project team will report by regular bi-weekly blogs on their encounters with community, business, university and governmental leaders regarding the impacts of climate change.
They will produce video “postcards” of interviews with community leaders and other opinion makers to communicate directly with Partners and Sponsors. Routine monthly Internet conference through Skype will be scheduled and conducted for Partners, Sponsors and other interested observers.
The Initiative is intended to be a 12-24 month investigation beginning in September 2011. The mission of the project is to develop a broader understanding of the human costs of climate change in Latin America and what, if anything, can be done to help populations adapt to the existing and future impacts of climate change on local economies.
The mission of this project is to contribute to the emergence of an environmentally sustainable and socially just human presence on our planet. A great deal of time, money and expertise has been expended to devise creative strategies and possible remedies pointing to workable models that are now being put into practice. Across the globe. It is our intent to focus this investigation on specific regions in both Central and South America, discover the issues both globally and locally that are impacting people’s lives as a result of climactic changes, work to understand the perceptions of potential solutions and learn how we can work together to contribute to creating a healthier world.
Humanity as a whole faces daunting challenges that put our own survival into question. Recent years have seen increasing efforts by people and organizations to address environmental devastation, resource depletion, species extinction and extreme wealth inequity by exposing the truth, advocating for change and implementing solutions. People who live in wealthy countries must share a greater responsibility for the crises related to climate change because we consume vastly more per capita than those living in developing countries. We know that those in poorer nations often bear the brunt of our excesses. When we are able to confront our situation honestly, we will be able to feel moved to accept responsibility for our predicament. When we face up to our obligations, we will discover that there is much that can be accomplished to improve the world’s situation. We will see that there are indeed many signs of hope to give us the courage to continue pressing forward.
THE PROJECT MEMBERS
We are Cliff, Georjean and our adopted 11 year old son Waylon. Weare embarking on a one to two year odyssey to learn as much as we can about the natural world in Latin America and the people who inhabit this part of our tiny globe.
Waylon is being Home-Schooled. He would ordinarily be in the 5th grade at his school in the United States. He has the responsibility of getting the knowledge he needs to achieve the next rung in the educational ladder. We are working with the School for Arts and Sciences (SAS) in Tallahassee, Florida and Rose Academy, also in Tallahassee to gather the resource materials necessary to help him gain the knowledge, skills and information he will require to move on. Georjean and Cliff serve as Waylon’s coaches. Each day is a new learning experience (not just for Waylon) as we explore and move around the planet. One of the best things going is the sense that we do not need to hurry! On most “vacations” when people are away from home, there’s a felt need to see and do as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. With a year or more ahead of us for our travels we are learning to let go and relax and just let “life” come to us. We are very excited about the prospects for our new direction.
WHERE WE ARE. WHERE WE’RE GOING
So, at the moment, we are in Chelem, Mexico in the Yucatan near the major city of Merida. We flew into Merida Thursday night (September 1) and met Cliff’s sister Ginny and husband Jim. We stayed in a terrific hotel in el Centro, “Luz en Yucatan”, visited the Museo de Antropoligia, ate several meals, drank fresh juices (jugo), and left for the little beach town of Chelem (21 km). We have a nice house right on the beach! The Gulf of Mexico is beautiful here, we swim every day, and eat great fish brought to us by the local fishermen.
We are going to Progresso tonight to check out the local fare and drink some cerveza’s. It’s a little port town right on the coast about 15 km from Chelem. We are hoping to make some contact with people who are working on sustainability issues in this part of Mexico.