Sea level rise and flooding are significant concerns for Florida, given its extensive coastline of 1,350 miles—the longest in the contiguous United States.
Interview With Thais Lopez Vogel, Co-Founder and Trustee at VoLo Foundation

This interview was conducted by Selva Ozelli


What prompted VoLo Foundation to establish Florida Climate Week?

We were inspired by Climate Week New York City, a pioneering event that has provided us with valuable insights. This prompted us to question why not to establish a Florida Climate Week, especially considering that Florida ranks as the tenth most impacted region by climate change globally, a fact stated by a recent study from climate risk experts XDI and reported by Reuters and CNN.

How long has VoLo Foundation been organizing this event?

2023 was the fifth year for our Florida Climate Week event.

Does your organization collaborate with United Nations Climate Change conferences?

For COP27, in 2022, we sponsored the participation of our partner organization Citizens’ Climate Lobby. With their onsite People’s Pavilion, they allowed audiences across the planet to be virtually involved in the summit. 

For COP28, we are tailoring some plans with partners to involve VoLo Foundation in this event. 

We also follow closely all the UN conclusions and guidelines, to resonate them in our communications strategy.

How many participants attend your event each year?

This year, we had 320 registrations for our virtual events, and for the first time, organized 10 onsite events across the state. We are currently in the process of calculating the total attendance for these onsite gatherings in collaboration with some of our valued partners. We will provide the final attendance numbers for both virtual and onsite events once the calculations are completed.

What is the most critical environmental issue facing Florida today?

Sea level rise and flooding are significant concerns for Florida, given its extensive coastline of 1,350 miles—the longest in the contiguous United States. These issues pose a threat to our drinking water, as there is a risk of ocean water intrusion.

Why is Florida more vulnerable to climate change?

Being a peninsula, our entire region is at risk from the growing strength and frequency of hurricanes, driven by warming oceans. 
Moreover, escalating levels of extreme heat pose a significant threat to individuals, especially outdoor workers in fields like construction and agriculture, who are increasingly susceptible to heat-related illnesses, some of which can be fatal.

Vulnerable populations, including the elderly, people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, children, and even our beloved pets, face even greater risks.

If the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, sea level along the Florida coast is likely to rise one to four feet in the next century. How will this impact Florida?

Florida is already experiencing the effects of this issue as lives are being lost to hurricanes. The cost of rebuilding in the aftermath of these devastating events continues to rise, mainly due to the increasing severity of the damage each time.

Insurance companies are opting to withdraw from the state because it is no longer a profitable venture. Looking ahead, it appears that Floridians will face a grim scenario in which damage will escalate, and insurance coverage will become scarcer.

Havre de Grace Maritime Museum & Environmental Center Art Shows for Florida Climate Week:

This summer Florida experienced a severe marine heat wave which resulted in the bleaching of coral reefs within the 3,800 square miles of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Did you have any programming about this event at your conference this year in addition to the featured art show Orcas and Reefs by Selva Ozelli?

Yes, we also addressed the threat to coral reefs in our virtual events “Coral Conservation: There is Hope in the Chaos”, “Community Partnerships for Coral Research”, and “Coral Projects: How to Create Sea Change One Small Step at a Time.” 

The increasing bleaching of coral reefs in Florida has been on our radar for a long time, and indeed the severe marine heatwave experienced this summer raised the urgency to resonate the voice about the current situation and make calls to action.

Orcas & Reefs Art Show for Whaling Museum by Selva Ozelli:

COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, is set to catalyze action at the nexus of biodiversity and climate. It marks the first COP where nature, land use, oceans, and coral reefs will be at the forefront of the agenda. What is Florida's stance on this topic?

We are closely monitoring the potential calls to action that might arise, as the conference will bring together brilliant experts to address these complex issues. Thousands of individuals from various sectors in our state are already actively engaged, including government officials, community leaders, nonprofit volunteers, and more. 

VoLo Foundation is prepared to promote collaboration and encourage coordinated action in the most effective manner.

The Future of Power Art Show for COP28:

Anything else you would like to add.

Look for facts and make informed decisions. VoLo Foundation exists to bring knowledge to audiences because we believe this is the right way to make a difference. Never underestimate the power of the small changes we can make in our everyday routine. 

Let’s take action by voting. This is not either a blue or red problem, it’s a green one, and it affects us all.

How can people get involved with Florida Climate Week?

Our virtual events are available for a limited time on the website and our YouTube channel. 

Please stay in touch to learn about our October 2024 FCW, which will mark the 10th anniversary of VoLo Foundation.


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