- THIS COMMON GROUND Program CAN BE ENJOYED BOTH in Person and VirtualLY -

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“We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we’re the last that can do something about it,” has become something of a cliché,” a summary of the existential threat posed by global warming.

 

As climate change moves from an imminent peril to a deadly reality for vast swaths of the country, a panel of nationally recognized groundbreakers will discuss the gaping dichotomy between what scientists say needs to be done to moderate an impending disaster and the political reality of what is possible.

 

We will have a broad ranging discussion of the science, economics and politics swirling around the alarming climate change headlines. The panel will examine what state and local communities are doing to mitigate the congressional stasis, what might break the logjam, how the issues play in national, state and local elections and the role of private citizens and companies.  

 
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Bill Weir

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Bill Weir is CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent, covering breaking news about environmental disasters and producing long-form segments about the cost of climate change. He is renowned for his bravery in on-site reporting and for striking an emotional chord that gets viewers to care about climate change. 

 

Weir joined CNN in 2013 after ten years at ABC, where he launched the weekend edition of Good Morning America and co-anchored Nightline. Driven by the curiosity to see the world that would be left for his daughter, he in 2015 started The Wonder List with Bill Weir, a travelogue-docuseries that enchanted viewers with beautiful locations and then encouraged them to turn their care into urgency about protecting threatened sites. 

 

His 2022 documentary Road to Change, which features interviews with Americans experiencing and fighting climate change, was called “one of the very best pieces of climate journalism ever run by a mainstream news organization” by The Columbia Journalism Review

 

Despite his regular reporting on the climate apocalypse, Weir preaches a message of hope. A self-described “earth optimist,” he intersperses stories prompting despair with reports of technological advances and people coming together to create change to save the planet. “We are the one creature that can imagine a different reality and work together to make it happen,” said Weir at the Smithsonian’s 2020 Earth Optimism Summit.

David Wallace-Wells

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David Wallace-Wells, a columnist and climate newsletter writer for The New York Times, is the author of the 2019 New York Times best seller, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, an apocalyptic portrait of where civilization is headed. His Cassandra warning of our future is nothing less than economic collapse in the wake of famine, desertification, pandemics, broiling cities, charred forests and acidic oceans.

Originally published in 2017 as a long-form essay in New York magazine, the piece immediately provoked a storm and went viral, becoming the most read article in the publication’s history. Many saw it as prescient, the “Silent Spring” of our time, a belated bugle call to battle and a desperately-needed SOS for a dying planet; critics savaged it as alarmist pornography, “fear mongering,” “scientifically imprecise” and little more than dishonest clickbait.

But just years later, Wallace’s distress flares have been largely validated by the enduring headlines of fires and floods and by a major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has warned of an impending doomsday. Even many of those who dissed his essay now praise the book, which follows up and expands on the earlier work.

cristina mittermeier

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Cristina Mittermeier is an award-winning photographer and the mother of conservation photography, the now-well known practice of using photos of wildlife to spur action that protects the natural world.  

 

After many years as a marine scientist at Conservation International, Mittermeier turned to photography in the early 1990s when she realized scientific papers and figures alienated people outside academia. “We’re telling this story in the whole wrong way,” she said in a 2021 My Modern Met interview, explaining that photos are the most effective way to inspire action because they prompt more emotion than data.  

 

Despite early derision from editors for suggesting that photos be leveraged for change, rather than simply sold for calendars and static purposes, she was among the first to use photos to galvanize the conservation community, donors, volunteers, and government officials. Mittermeier, whose works includes the iconic 2017 images of an emaciated polar bear dragging its body along the arctic ice, is described as “one of the most essential and influential outdoor photographers in the world” by Outdoor Photographer

 

In addition to receiving numerous awards, Mittermeier has been named as the Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year, National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year, and one of Outdoor Magazine’s top 40 most influential outdoor photographers. She and her partner, fellow wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen, are the founders of the SeaLegacy non-profit, a collective of artmakers using the power of media to amplify ocean solutions to environmental issues.

Cindy McCain

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Cindy McCain is best known as the wife of late Arizona Senator John McCain but also renowned as a businesswoman, humanitarian, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture (FOA).

 

Following decades of philanthropic work in America and around the world, McCain in 2021 was nominated to the ambassadorship by President Biden, who first introduced her to her late husband. In her post at the agency, which is charged with curbing global hunger, she advises governments and supports agricultural innovation to establish steady food sources for vulnerable populations.

 

But she spends much of her time seeking to raise awareness about the ongoing impacts of climate change on food production around the world, especially in Third World countries. “You can’t have a discussion about climate change… and not talk about the many millions of people around the world who don’t know where their next meal will come from,” McCain said in a 2021 State Department briefing.

 

Although McCain has always preferred to stay out of the political spotlight - with the possible exceptions of her husband’s two presidential campaigns when she became a beloved figure - she has called on the Republican party to act with more bipartisanship and has publicly endorsed Joe Biden for his 2020 and potential 2024 presidential bids.

 

McCain is the Chairman Emeritus at the McCain Institute of Arizona State University and has served in an advisory capacity to several philanthropic organizations such as Operation Smile, Project C.U.R.E, HaloTrust, and more.