- 2016 marked the hottest year on record for Planet Earth. Asia and the Artic experienced unprecedented high temperatures, parts of Africa and Latin America were drought-stricken, and the Northeastern region of the U.S. had a brutally cold and stormy winter.
- 2017 was just slightly cooler than 2016 – it snagged the spot for the second hottest year on record. It brought frigid cold and snow to parts of the globe that traditionally don’t experience extreme winter weather, like Italy. Meanwhile, wildfires raged through California and Siberia, countries all across Southeast Asia were flooded, and the devastating Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria tore through the U.S. and Caribbean.
- And already in 2018, we’re seeing extreme weather events across the globe, including flooding, more wildfires and drought.
I share this, because these are just some of the real Earth events guest speaker Raj Rajan recently brought to Clarke as part of our ongoing Speaker Series designed to open minds and deepen our understanding of sustainable development. Raj is a volunteer advocate with The Climate Reality Project, working tirelessly to get the world talking about, believing in, and working against the drivers of global climate change.
Vector-Diseases on the Rise
There were so many meaningful takeaways from Raj’s presentation, but one that especially resonated with us was the impact climate change is having on the spread of vector-borne diseases. He shared that warmer conditions extend the breeding season and geographic range for vectors that carry diseases, and allow viruses to grow faster in their systems. Overall mosquito populations are peaking sooner and lasting longer in the summer season. And global travel and immigration is exposing new regions of the world to vectored diseases they haven’t experienced before. We saw that firsthand in the U.S. with the 2016 outbreak of Zika in Miami. Zika was not a new disease at the time, but it was new for the U.S. to have local cases.
Plus, extreme heat and longer warm periods are fostering the spread of toxic algae blooms that threaten public recreation and – more terrifyingly – drinking water sources.
As I reflect on Raj’s presentation, I feel a call to action – to do more to minimize our impacts, to get more involved, and to be a bold catalyst within our industry, our communities and our networks to initiate and influence meaningful conversations about the issues of, and solutions to, climate change. The work that needs to be done to reverse the effects of climate change can seem overwhelming. But I also feel hopeful, because I know that there are thousands of individuals and companies that are working hard and making material changes to reduce their environmental impact. As our President and CEO J. Lyell Clarke often says, “Don’t believe anyone who tells you that individuals or small and mid-sized companies can’t make a difference in the world, because at Clarke, we do every day.” And, he is right. We’ve done a lot already and we’ll keep at it because we know that there is always more to do. Will you join us?