Climate Change According to Thais Lopez Vogel

By Carlos Roa

On March 17 and 18, the 2022 edition of Climate Correction™ was held in Orlando, Florida. It is the leading annual climate action conference in the United States, focused on driving innovative solutions to address the issue.

Behind this initiative is VoLo Foundation, a private family foundation created in 2014 by David S. Vogel and Thais Lopez Vogel, which seeks to educate the public on how to create a sustainable and safe planet for generations to come.

David is a world-renowned data mining and predictive modeling expert. He has won many awards for his predictive modeling, including the prestigious KDD Cup.

Thais is a Venezuelan lawyer who has been included in the 2020 and 2021 “One Hundred Most Influential Latinos Committed to Climate Action” by Sachamama, one of the country’s leading non-governmental organizations dedicated to informing and mobilizing Latinos for climate action.

VoLo is a name formed by the first syllable of David and Thais’ last names. She states: “We offer facts and scientific data; we corroborate the information before it is published. We have no political affiliation; we do not raise funds from anyone. We only ask that you visit our page, our social networks and listen to our podcast to educate yourself about this issue.” 

Some of the topics discussed at the event were agriculture and leadership in the face of carbon emissions, clean energy, and artificial intelligence in agricultural production.

It also featured a free interactive exhibition open to the public, with innovative exhibits from companies, non-profits, universities and research institutions. It was complemented by an exhibition of art inspired by climate change.

Latinos are the most affected in the U.S.

In her Climate Correction™ opening remarks, Lopez Vogel warned that Florida – where the Foundation is located – is especially vulnerable due to sea level rise and extreme heat that averages 25 dangerously hot days; when temperatures reach 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, each year.

“By 2050, 130 of such days per year are predicted, more than any other state, according to Climate Central,” she added. And if that wasn’t enough, she says Latinos are one of the most impacted communities by climate change in the United States.

“We take the data very seriously, and based on it we can say that Florida, New York, Texas and California are the states with the greatest impact due to climate change. They are also the ones with the most Latino population,” Thais warns.

And reflects: “Although we have been talking about the climate problem for more than 20 years, we had never experienced it and that is why it was difficult for people to support this cause. Now we are living it, especially in Florida with the hurricanes and floods, or with the fires in California. It is impacting us.

The so-called Sunshine State lost an estimated $5.4 billion in real estate value between 2005 and 2017; home prices in at-risk areas dropped 5% to 10% between 2018 and 2020 and may lose an additional 5% to 15% in value by 2030.  Property insurance has increased between 26% and 34%.

Thais recollects that Florida is also affected by climate migrations, such as those it received when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico or Dorian devastated the Bahamas.

Action on climate change

The VoLo Foundation assumes its activism from philanthropy, understanding it as the allocation of resources to solve the needs of the community.

In this sense, they are inspired by the reference of George Peabody, considered the father of modern philanthropy, who focused his actions in favor of education, with donations of relevant sums of money for research institutes, schools and libraries.

“We want to use resources to analyze situations and propose new schemes that allow us to overcome challenges”, explains Thais, adding that her task is that “philanthropy turns its eyes and resources towards non-profit organizations, formed by qualified professionals, who deal with specialized technical work aimed at changing policies.”

He believes that the change in thinking we need is in the hands of civil society institutions. “And our philanthropic effort should be focused on supporting their actions.”

The work of these institutions is to educate the citizen so that they fulfill in the most positive and purposeful way their different roles in society.

“We are spouses and parents, we are consumers, we are workers, we are political entities. We need references on how to exercise these roles in a way that contributes to the greatest possible welfare of the community,” she reflects.

She would like, for example, to see a tax on carbon, for example. “We need politicians on our side and willing to do it. We have to all come together, like we came together with COVID, only when we aligned we were able to develop the vaccine and we did it in less than 2 years.”

Thais Lopez Vogel believes that politicians should have climate change as number 1 on their agendas. “Voters should demand it. Latinos have to get active in politics, we have to learn more about the climate problem; but at the same time act, vote, be part of the solution. We are more than 60 million in the United States. We have a voice and we will be heard,” she concludes.

This article was originally published in IQ Latino. Click here to read the article.

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