Minnesota, my home state, has traditionally had four well-defined seasons: a short but beautiful spring, a hot and stormy summer, an autumn with picturesque trees turning red and gold under crisp blue skies, and a slide into a long, frigid, snowy winter. Minnesotans embrace the outdoors – boating and fishing on summer lakes and rivers that later becomes skating, skiing, and ice-fishing through the bone-chilling cold. In Minnesota, we know that -40 degrees is the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius.
I was born in 1962, and over my lifetime these seasons appear to have shifted. Winter is shorter, with snowfall less reliable and fewer “cold snaps” and frequent thaws. Autumn temperatures stretch into mid-November while both soft spring rains and short summer downpours have become multi-day weather events.
As kids, we skied and skated from Thanksgiving through late March. The outdoor ice rinks never melted, nor was there a need to create man-made snow for local ski slopes. My two sons, now aged 16 and 21, have never experienced a Minneapolis winter where our city did not have several winter rains (rather than snow) or where lakes, ponds, and rivers remained frozen for five or six months. Outdoor hockey in the southern third of our state is becoming a nostalgic activity of the past.
When I see such radical change in my lifetime, I wonder what will the next generation experience? As my high school son and I spend the next week at COP23, we will tag team a daily topic. Ian will explore how youth is impacted and addressing the issue of the day. My role is to explore philanthropy and how it fits into the climate change puzzle. Private funding has the capability of tackling a very specific issue or applying a more broadstroke approach, which will be instrumental in the U.S. as federal funding for climate causes is diminishing.
Below are topics Ian and I plan to explore:
- Get to Know COP: What it’s Like to Be a Participant
- Island Nations: Importance of Fiji as the Host Nation
- Youth Movement
- Impact on Wildlife
- Sustainability – Forests, Fresh Water, Food Supply, Air Quality
- Human Rights & Social Justice
- Awareness Building in the USA and Globally