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Climate takes center stage in South Florida for Aspen Ideas 2024

Local 10 WPLG

By Louis Aguirre and Anastasia Pavlinskaya Brenman

This article originally appeared on

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – For the third straight year, Miami Beach is hosting critical conversations about climate change and action as part of the Aspen Ideas Climate 2024 Conference.

But why is South Florida the stage of choice for this crucial event?

Well, Miami-Dade County is largely considered to be ground zero. It’s believed to be one of the first regions to experience the effects of climate change.

“It’s a coastal community,” said President and CEO of the Aspen Institute Daniel R. Porterfield regarding the venue. “It’s on the forefront of addressing the climate crisis.”

The three-day event will welcome scientists, leaders, captains of industry and change-makers from across the globe.

“I love that this is an important conference focusing on solutions,” Grammy award-winner and humanitarian Gloria Estefan said during last year’s conference.

“We are in charge now, humans are in charge of the whole planet,” Bill Nye “The Science Guy” exclaimed. “We are stewards of the earth.”

The legendary science educator will be returning to the stage this year. Other familiar faces will include U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Apple vice president and former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, and Bezos Earth Fund Vice Chair Lauren Sánchez.

The eyes of the globe will be watching to see how South Florida steps up to these environmental hurdles.

“We have big challenges and with that will come big solutions,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “And we’re already very aggressively pursuing [those solutions].”

Those solutions will come in the form of reinforced resiliency, increased green infrastructure, and scalable advancements in clean energy. Throughout the three-day event, discussions will be held by those who are working on making those solutions a reality.

“Our company is looking at geothermal cooling,” Terra Group CEO David Martin explained. “Basically, we reduce the amount of power consumption because our chillers are getting cold water from the environment.”

The South Florida firm champions sustainable development, which will be a critical component in addressing the climate crisis.

The rising heat is already impacting all South Florida residents, as 2023 was the hottest year on record; more days of extreme heat are forecasted for the coming decade. This combination has community leaders expressing their concerns about how the most vulnerable residents will be impacted.

“Climate change is impacting all of us, but especially communities of color”, explained Catalyst Miami’s Director of Popular Education and Grassroots Leadership Destini Smith. “We’re thinking about where they live, how the conditions of their housing are and are they fit to come up to the challenges that climate and extreme heat will have in our communities?”

“(It’s) the ability to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table,” said Verizon’s Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Rose Kirk.

The conference is solutions-oriented and the public plays a big role in advancing the narrative, regardless of politics.

“I’m a Republican and I’m here to talk climate,” said U.S. Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, as he addressed a cheering crowd last year.

Many of the events are open to anyone who wants to join. And if you can’t make it to Miami Beach, much of the conference can also be streamed online.

“The conference is all about what can an everyday person do in their business, in their neighborhood, in their community, with their students,” said Porterfield. “Whatever it is to be contributors to a larger movement, to protect the planet, and to protect our communities and people.”

In short, everyone is invited to the table.

“We know what to do and how to get there,” said UN Special Advisor to the Security General on Climate Action and Just Transition Selwin Hart. “We just need to roll up our sleeves and simply get to work.”

Aspen Ideas Climate runs from March 11-13. For more information on tickets, streaming, and for a full list of speakers, visit its website.


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