MY AL GORE BUSINESS
By Prof. Mydah F. Kabingue, CAS Faculty Member/JCI Rep.
It was past five on the second day of the training when the Chairman finally arrived. He has been talking to an audience of 650 international delegates since Monday, the 14thof March 2016 and he has not shown any sign of weariness at all. This man amazes us and he has been that one fixture amidst our fight against climate change.
So what questions do we ask: Why have you been doing this? Do you ever get tired after a long day of presentations? How do you present to an all-women group? How do we deal with climate change deniers? The Chairman expressed gratitude for all the work we have done and like little children hypnotized by the Pied Piper, we hang on to every word he says. The conversation then shifted to our little victories in our home countries – one mentor who makes sure that his resort in India only utilizes sustainable and earth-friendly resources, another mentor has had 57 public presentations in a year, and another is trekking to mountain villages in order to distribute and install solar-powered lights. Then, one mentor inquired on the best method to starting the rather academic presentation if one is asked to discuss climate change to children ages 6-10. The Chairman advised that we could start with questions relating to the daily experiences of the child – start with what the child already knows.
The eight of us were very lucky to have been chosen among 35 mentor-trainers to a private talk with Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and now Chairman of the Climate Reality Project. His organization focuses on creating awareness, action and solutions towards the urgent issue on climate change. Since 2009, they have produced thousands of climate change advocates who are committed to action when they go home to their respective countries after the training. Trainings have been held in countries like the United States, Brazil, India and Canada. The organization also participated actively in last December’s COP21 in Paris, where cooperating parties agreed to cut global carbon dioxide emissions.
I, for one had my training in Miami, Florida last year. Together with other eight Filipinos, we were trained on the latest science on climate change as well as on communication and organizing tools needed to spread the message. After the training, I initiated the Light Up Cebu project in partnership with JCI Cebu and Data-Phil Technology Educators, Inc. Since November, we have been distributing and installing solar-powered lights to school children’s homes in Cebu’s mountain barangays. Our mission is to address both the basic need for light in the homes and alleviate climate change through solar energy. Since the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the many effects of climate change – rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, loss of biodiversity, etc. , it is our moral obligation to contribute to its resolution.
Serving already as mentor-trainer in the Manila training last March 14-16 strengthened my commitment to the task that Chairman Al Gore bestowed on us. It is not everyday that an ordinary professor like me is chosen to have a talk with a personality as big as our Chairman. It is also not every day that one is tasked to contribute to a huge movement that the Climate Reality Project is spear heading. Call it “starstrucked” but it also does not happen everyday that one gets a picture with a US Vice President. I take this memory as my everyday reminder that this movement is for my children; that they can grow up in a more environment-friendly Philippines or world. I was told in Manila that we are like ants shouting in the wilderness – we are making noise but nobody’s listening to us. Well, I’ll take what the Chairman told us in that one-hour private talk – “Hold on.”